We have a new format for our guest artists questions its called the a-z blog and our guest can choose ten or more questions to talk about themselves Jenny Oldknow is Novembers guest artist and we have two blogs to share with you from Jenny as she talks in depth about her art and inspirations, (scroll down the blog to read last weeks )so grab a cup of tea and read part two!
i. Describe the ideal working atmosphere.
Preferably on my own, empty of human noise and distraction, but with just my Labrador dog, Harvey and the two guinea pigs which live in my studio for company. Animals are my muses! Having some good music playing (and the lyrics are as important as the music itself), an aromatherapy candle or joss stick burning, and I am happy.
j. Describe some important goals you have achieved.
Winning my first major award at the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art in 2012 was the first, and came at the perfect time, just as my youngest child started school full time, and served to really boost my confidence and profile. It certainly boosted my CV and gave me welcome publicity at a crucial time. Earlier this year I became a trustee and secretary of the Association of Animal Artists, which is really giving me an insight into the other side of the art world, as well as enabling me to meet some amazing people.
k. The most recent goal
Is one I have just achieved, and that is to get work accepted into the prestigious Society of Wildlife Artists annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London, which I am really thrilled about, especially as this year was my first attempt in entering. To be accepted into a show like this is hugely encouraging and motivating. I was extra pleased that it is one of my ink drawings which is part of the exhibition, a medium which I am passionate about, but have never ventured to exhibit until this year. I am fairly ambitious though, and as soon as one goal is achieved I am instantly looking forward to the next goals, and building on past successes. Every time I have a solo exhibition, like this one at Studio 61, it makes me realise, when I see all the work hung together for the first time, how much I am growing and developing as an artist, which is the main goal for any professional artist, I think.
l. How would others describe you? Your work ethic/habits?
Passionate, dedicated, obsessive - all these word have often been used to describe my attitude to my work as an artist. Although it is a fairly recent
m. What methods do you use to organise your time?
A big Filofax and weekly/monthly/yearly planners! I am a bit old school and like a paper diary and planners! I try to plan each coming week with priority tasks most important, but as most artists know, sometimes inspiration hits, and I just have to do something that I feel like doing at that particular time. Sometimes I plan in advance to sit down and paint, but nothing happens, and if I try and force it the results are usually far from satisfactory to me. Being in the countryside on a regular basis is important to me and my work, as it is the main inspiration on my work. I am lucky living on the doorstep of stunning countryside and having my dog to encourage me out there. I find that immersing myself in the wilds helps ground me and can lead to a productive working time. Allowing myself the time to walk and dream and think is vital to me, both practically and psychologically,
n. Tell me about a time when you have felt pulled in all directions and how you handled it. Something always has to give eventually. The more you put into something hopefully the more successful you are, which usually means you get busier! For me it was remembering that my focus, and driving passion is to create art, so I need to watch that things like teaching, whilst is always something I have enjoyed doing, doesn’t take up so much of my time that I can no longer create my own work. And indeed teaching is something that I have reduced in the last few months. Being a busy mum and working full time (sometimes more than full time!) always means that a certain amount of juggling has to happen, family comes first, but good organisation and discipline means that I always have time for my art.
o. What motivates/inspires your work?
The natural world. Most definitely. I have always been a country girl at heart, and animals and the countryside have always been preferred subjects in my art. You will rarely find me in a town centre painting people, cars or buildings. Trees and animals are far more my thing. Increasingly, I am open to other influences on my art, including that of literature and poetry, including the haiku I write. I am beginning to correlate these things with my art and seeing them becoming more intwined in the future somehow.
p. How do you measure your level of success/achievement?
The bottom line has to be how satisfied I am with the work I am producing, not just with the end result in a frame, but on how inspired I am to create it in the first place and how interesting I have found the creative process in the production of my work. Anything that becomes too easy or repetitive isn’t a challenge to me, so as soon as that feeling of complacency begins to creep in it is time to think about how to challenge myself more. Healthy sales, getting into exhibitions and winning awards are great ways to measure success and achievements, but most importantly the work has to be something I am proud of, without consequential validation from others or produced just to chase sales or please selectors. I have to believe 100% in the work I create.
q. Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Ambitious. I am ambitious for both my own work to grow and progress, to improve and always be the best artist I can be, and to continue to be inspired to create from the heart. I am ambitious to become increasingly accepted within my field of art, for the work I produce. Never settling to the present, enjoying it, yes, but always knowing that better is to come if I work hard enough for it, and keep an open mind heart to possibilities.