Art, // April 3, 2021
Trisha Lambi — ARTIST
Interview with artist Trisha Lambi —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Trisha Lambi and I’m a visual artist from Australia. I’m an oil painter and I love figurative painting although I do venture into landscape and still life painting when the whim takes me. I’ve been an artist officially since 2003 and in that time, I’ve represented Australia at the 2006 and 2007 Guangzhou Art Fair in China and exhibited widely in Australia and internationally in Italy, London, Germany, USA, and Taipei. In 2018 I completed my first artist residency which involved painting a mural in the streets of Lakkos, the historic old town of Heraklion, Crete. I loved the experience so much that I did another residency in 2019 – this time in the beautiful French village of Fontaine-Daniel. No mural this time but plenty of inspiration gained. That same year 3 of my paintings were featured on the Australian reality TV series The Block which was a great experience. My latest achievement is my selection in the juried 2021 International Guild of Realism’s Spring Salon Online Exhibition which will also be featured in the American Art Collector magazine, so life is good.
2. Why Art?
I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember and while an artistic culture didn’t figure largely in my family life the urge to make it has always been there. Even though I seemed to run in the totally opposite direction for quite a few years it was always lurking in the background – I would take a class here and there and continue to draw whenever I could, but it took the birth of my first child to push me fully in its direction. In my spare time, I would draw portraits of him and soon I began doing baby portraits professionally. I also found myself painting – mainly landscapes and still life, but it was the advent of the internet which really boosted me along on my new career. I built myself a website and it grew from there.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I’m not sure I ever had the thought that when I grow up, I want to be an artist – it really wasn’t on my radar as everybody knows that artists spend their lives starving in a garret! Perhaps that’s why I took the circuitous route. I do remember trying to find careers where creativity could be used – fashion design, occupational therapy, architecture but when it came time to choose, I opted for teaching, and it wasn’t until I was working for a year that I gave serious thought to a fine arts degree. I do know that I was drawing from an early age, and that it took me away to another world – it didn’t matter if I was making the art or if I was watching someone else. Two of my sisters paint and I used to love watching my eldest sister work – I must have got carried away in my reverie though as she tells me I would often spill her water over her painting.
4. What are your favourite subjects and media?
For some reason I’ve always drawn women – even as a very young child – and that’s still my favourite subject. I have no idea why – I’m one of 8 children and the youngest of 5 girls – perhaps that has something to do with it. All I know is that my parents’ books were covered with drawings of women. Having my daughter as a model makes the subject even more lovely to me! I paint in oils as I love their buttery consistency and I often use my hands instead of a brush to apply and blend the paint. I also love their forgiving nature – they take time to dry so any mistakes can be easily rectified.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I work from photographs so whenever I can convince Zoe (my daughter) we will do a photo shoot and from that I usually have a selection of photos I find myself itching to paint. The light and pose of the model will inspire a setting – at the moment I’m a tad obsessed with pool settings, so I’ll hunt around for photos of pools and floaties and I’ll create a montage from the latter and my photo of Zoe. It’s always fun trying to get the shadows to conform and to get the posture realistic and once I have that sorted, I’ll sketch it onto the linen using a grid on both my reference photo and the linen. Next step is a very rough undercoat where colours are decided upon and finally the finessing – the part that takes the most time but also the most enjoyable.
6. What are your favourite artworks/ artists?
Wow so many! Along with the usual suspects: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and the Dutch masters, I must make special mention of an Australian realist artist Patricia Moran whose books vastly improved my painting technique. Other favourite contemporary artists include Jeffrey Smart and Ben Quilty. Vastly different styles but each speak to me – I love Smart’s use of strong lines and colours to create beauty out of the mundane and Quilty for his expressive works acting as a social commentary in a very pure form. Last but not least Vincent Van Gogh – standing in the Met Gallery in New York among their collection of his paintings really was a religious experience.
7.What are the best responses you have had to your work?
I have had so many lovely responses to my work that it’s difficult to choose as each collector is incredibly special to me. However, the one thing they all have in common is that they connect to the emotion in my work and that is priceless to me.
8.What do you like about your work?
I like that my paintings are bold and strong and sensuous and that they really can’t be mistaken for anybody else’s.
9.What advice would you give to other artists?
Don’t listen to anybody, follow your gut wherever it takes you. Over the years well-meaning people have freely offered their advice on success as an artist – still life doesn’t sell, pink doesn’t sell, green doesn’t sell, realism doesn’t sell, to name a few. I’ve finally learnt to shut out the white noise and paint that which excites me – I think the moment you kowtow to outside advise is the moment your work becomes contrived and dull.
10.Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Painting away in my studio and travelling the world undertaking artist residencies (Covid permitting of course!)