Wednesday, 29 January 2014

One of Our February Artists in a Window Ciara McGuire

New to Studio 61 is Ciara McGuire who creates wonderful mixed media paintings, we interviewed her to find out her inspirations and background.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ciara McGuire and I am a mixed media artist, designer, blogger and owner of Ciara McGuire Designs on Etsy  and Society 6. I create mixed media painting using acrylic paints, watercolours, paper, inks, oil pastels and much, much more. I work on canvas, cardboard, paper and fabric. I will paint on anything if it stands still long enough!

Why do you do what you do?
I create art because I can’t remember a time in my life when it hasn't been a part of my life. Ever since I was a very little girl I have sketched, coloured, painted, cut, pasted and made pretty things. I have just always been like this. I don’t know where it came from or why it continues but every morning I wake up and that creative urge is still there so I still do it.

How do you work?
I work out of a teeny, tiny studio in Sheffield city, just across the road from where I live, which is very handy. I have decorated and organised it so that it is an inspiring and homely space for me to create in by filling the walls and shelves with my own, and other peoples artwork, burning candles and aromatherapy oils and installing a kettle for me to have pick-me-up cuppa whenever I need it! My studio hours are 9.30 – 6pm Mon to Thurs and 9.30 – 4pm on Fridays. I make sure to stick to these hours quite strictly (unless I have to leave the studio for a work related meeting) because I find that it is the only way that I can get real, solid work done. I do everything in my little studio including working on my artwork, blogging, filming my You-tube videos and packaging up my orders.

What work do you most enjoying doing?
 When I am creating without any end result in mind, just letting the art flow out of my mind, through my hands and out onto the page, I am at my happiest. I love to experiment with different and new products or with whatever is at hand at the time. I don’t believe I have to be working with the highest grade paints or canvas; I don’t believe I need to be educated to the highest level in art. I just do what feels right and what I think looks good. People seem to enjoy what I do, regardless of how I got there so for me that is all that matters.

What themes do you pursue?
I am drawn towards positive, uplifting themes. The colours I use are typically bright and vibrant and the pieces I create often incorporate a positive quote of some sort.  I paint a lot of flowers and this is not just because they are pretty to look at but more because of what they symbolize. To me, a flower represents growth, change and blooming into the beautiful life that you should be living. Think about what happens in Winter when the flowers die away. It may feel like everything is grey, there is no colour in the world and the flowers are gone forever. But come Spring those little flowers will burst through the soil and bloom once again. There is always hope. That is what I try to get across in my artwork.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Wow I have a list as long as my arm! I worked in sweet shops, newsagents, restaurants. I was even a hairdresser in another life which I suppose was the creative side of me coming out again. When I first moved to U.K I worked in Greggs. It was great to have picked up a job so quickly (seen as we moved here due to recession in Ireland) but it was that job that finally drove me to make the decision to follow my heart and go full time along my creative journey. I still work one night a week in an Irish bar but honestly that is just for the craic (fun) I have with the regulars. They are like my second family really and no matter how busy I am with my artwork I think I will always find time to spend in the Grapes.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I suppose the artistic life could be described as lonely sometimes but I am comfortable with my own company and honestly, I enjoy being alone a lot. It’s the only way I can work.  However, I will always, always have talk radio on while I work so my studio is never quiet plus it keeps me up with current events which I think is important too.  Because I work alone all week, I always make sure to make time to see family and friends. Everyone needs a little human interaction after all!

What do you dislike about your work?
There is nothing that I dislike about my work. Of course there are certain areas that I would like to improve and I am always trying to better myself and my craft. There are days when I am uninspired, nothing will go my way, I can’t get what is in my head to look right down on paper.  This is natural, for any business. But I don’t dislike my work because how can I expect others to stand behind what I am doing if I don’t? I can’t fail, I can only move on wards and upwards. I just put it all down to practice and experience and know that tomorrow is a new day.

Favourite or most inspirational place?
I don’t know that I have any specific place that I can pinpoint but being by the sea is always a source of inspiration for me. I grew up in Wexford, which is situated on the South Eastern coast. I was used to walking along the Quay watching fishing trailers bobbing up and down and listening to the gulls screeching all around. As a child every Summer was spent at the beach, no question. It was second nature to me, something I didn't even think about. When I moved to Sheffield that was something that I had a hard time getting used to – not being able to see the sea no matter how far into the distance I looked. I genuinely felt smothered at times! However, I feel this has taught me a valuable lesson, not to take my surroundings for granted. Now when I am lucky enough to have a trip to the seaside or when I am visiting home I appreciate and enjoy it so much more. 

Professionally, what’s your goal?
I like to set myself lots of goals, big and small.  For example this year I have challenged myself to paint 50 large paintings in order to free myself of the anxiety I have felt about creating large scale. That is more of a personal challenge than a professional one I suppose but I am documenting this on my blog throughout the year so maybe it’s a little of both. As far as long term professional goals go I have a few, I would love to have my artwork licensed so that it would appear on household items etc , I would like my Etsy shop to be getting a little more activity and I also would like to be in a position (perhaps later this year) to start teaching classes and workshops. Passing what I know onto other people and sharing the joy of messy, free art would be a dream come true for me and I would probably learn twice as much from my students! Apart from that, I am excited to continue to grow and learn more and more about my craft and to keep on making others happy through my art.

  Thank you Ciara! To learn more about Ciara read here: