Meet the artist: Lisa Le Quelenec
What or who inspired you to start painting?
I don’t really remember a time when I haven’t drawn and painting has been a progression for me from the first childhood drawings. My Nan used to give me a set of Inscribe soft pastels and a pad of Ingres paper every Christmas when I was young and it was gift I would look forward to for weeks. They were much anticipated trips to town. I was also very lucky to have been taught by a very talented watercolourist, Norman Bailey, when I was at secondary school he inspired my love of watercolour.
Coming from Jersey in the Channel Islands the sea has always played a big part in my life. I guess it is natural that it’s influence comes out in my work. It holds endless fascination for me.
What mediums do you use for your artwork? – Which is your favourite and why?
I like to experiment with lots of different mediums and techniques but I mostly concentrate on acrylic and watercolour. I love the freedom of acrylic, how you can paint in thick meaty impasto one minute and then the softest whispers of glaze the next. It’s very forgiving and with the addition of different mediums you can have all the advantages of oil painting without the long waiting times and the smell. In contrast watercolour is much more challenging and intuitive.
My most important tools are my sketchbooks and after evacuating the house of people if it was on fire they are what I would want to save next. Years of sketches, ideas, memories, research and potential new work are contained within the pages and they are something that I wouldn’t want to lose.
Formally trained or self-taught?
I studied an art & design foundation course at Falmouth College of Arts. It was absolutely and without a doubt one of the most exciting things I could have done. I was introduced to so many different media and ways of working. Afterwards I did a degree in Fine Art at Southampton Solent University. Three years of painting in oils culminating in a final project based on shell forms. These were highly textured large scale pieces and quite unlike anything I do now although I continue to paint shells.
Which contemporary artists do you admire?
So many….Kurt Jackson is a favourite. http://www.kurtjackson.com/ . I love all the texture and mark making of Maggi Hambling’s work http://www.maggihambling.com/ . The light and colour Frederick Cumming captures http://www.fredcuming.com/ I could look at his work for hours.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
I made the leap from part time painting at weekends and evenings to full time a few years ago and have never looked back. It had always been my long term goal and it is even better than I imagined it would be. Each day there are new discoveries to be made and opportunities to be explored. I love being my own boss and setting my own work schedule – I’ve never been so productive or worked so hard. I know that a lot of people thought I was crazy giving up the security of a full time job at the beginning of a recession but it felt like the right time for me and I don’t regret a minute.
If you had one wish (regarding your art), what would it be?
To gain more time, there is never enough and I am always trying to pack more in to my day. I get impatient wanting to work harder and faster but painting isn’t like that it takes time to percolate and develop. It’s the biggest frustration and the biggest driving force. I work on a few different projects at once so that I can always be working and looking with fresh eyes at the work in front of me. I thrive on variety and find one project’s ideas and direction will kickstart ideas within another.
How would you characterize your style?
Limited palettes, light and tone, glazing and diffused colour. I think I tend to veer toward the minimal whilst still having recogniseable imagery. That said I can lose myself in the detail of pattern and texture in a shell or feather. I aim to paint peaceful meditative work that is restful to look at and explore.
Do you have a signature painting?
An ongoing series is what I think of as my ‘big empties’ -big skies and sea, lots of empty atmospheric space. As it continues to develop I can see that I will end up on a very abstract vein where the subject will become solely colour and light. At the moment they are baby steps on an exciting path and I am enjoying every step of the journey.
What’s in your calendar for the coming year?
This is going to be an exciting year. I am particularly looking forward to exhibiting with the group 4ART again at the Hayloft Gallery in Christchurch in May. Then for a week in June I have been invited to demonstrate as part of the ‘Living Craft’ event at the Priory in Christchurch. This is a lovely event where people can come and meet artists and crafts people, ask questions and pick up hints and tips and watch demonstrations.
Work wise this year I want to spend a chunk of time experimenting and developing a new body of work within printmaking so there will be a period of learning and relearning new skills.
If you had one tip share with other artists, what would that be?
You get out what you put in. The more I work, the more that I want to work and the better buzz I get about the work. You can’t wait around for ‘inspiration’ it comes from knuckling down and getting on with it. It’s never going to be easy. Whilst you might drift into ‘the zone’ every once in a while you will find that by putting in more time you will find the ‘zone’ more and more easily.
How can people find you on social media? (Twitter, facebook, blog address, any other social media?)
I confess the only social media that I use is blogger which has been great for connecting with collectors and other artists. I have found that spreading my time around on other sites just takes too much time away from working.