Studio Critical by Valerie Brennan

Valerie Brennan has one of my favorite art blogs. it has a fix set of questions and an endless flow of works and artists going through it.

I asked her to answer her own questions , she thought its cheeky, but we both liked the idea.

so here it is :

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I am in between finishing and starting new paintings, there are always a few paintings knocking around the studio that are utter failures waiting for their time. They often reveal themselves to be very pivotal works for me, they are completely unpredictable because some are years old and have seen many manifestations over time and I really don’t know when or how they will be resolved or should I say where my jumping off point is and they require no more from me. I have just finished 3 large paintings that I have been working on for a while now, they have required a few tactical retreats in the process but yes, now I am happy with them.

Can you describe your working routine?

I work early, first thing I am in my studio at 8am or so, my time is limited and a real balancing act with 2 children to look after, so I am very focused in my studio. I have a good strong coffee and get stuck in. My studio is not in my house so I take lots of photos to look at later, when I have time to reconsider what happened that day.

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I am lucky I have a great space, it’s an old stone storage, a big stone shell of a building with real character and beauty, the light is naturally very dynamic with such strong sun here so it has its own vibe at all times of the day. The volume of space is great for me and I have surrounded myself with my work in all its stages. I also have one wall dedicated to drawings, I look at them all the time and I have come to rely on their presence. The space has also allowed me to work bigger, I love that I can put 5 or 6 large panels along the wall and can work on them together, literally walk along the wall painting. I can let things dry, take out old work, have everything out when I need it and store everything there. It really is an incredible studio to have.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

I decide on a scale to use, order a batch of 6 maybe if they are small panels or 4 big panels. I put some colour down and just go from there. I don’t think each painting is an isolated event, so I find myself starting with the last paintings I made in my mind, sometimes painting what I have done before, and to go forward, I must destroy that and let the new painting reveal itself. When I am not painting I am drawing, one feeds the other. Also I have learned to just stop and back off and do something else when things aren’t going well. It can be a real emotional rollercoaster when it’s not working. It is so disheartening, it amazes me just how bad the feeling can be, still after all these years. On the other hand, it is hard to beat the highs of painting, I think there is no greater pleasure than being surprised by your own work.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

Everything, continuing, inventing, reinventing, over working things, accepting failures, accepting successes, knowing when to stop…the list goes on.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I use my materials in a traditional way, paint on a wood support, I play with spray paint, scale, mark making and have kept those parameters in place so far.

What does the future hold for this work?

Keep on making, hope to keep on showing and I am very much enjoying this time in painting and the community we have built through social media. I see artists taking back the power, carving their own careers, curating shows, creating platforms for their own and the work of others, it’s a movement of passion and a thing of great beauty.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you Yifat!