New Blood Art

Carefully curated artwork by outstanding emerging artists...

20th Oct 2015

Pilgrims on the Road to Meaning: Michaela Hollyfield

In his Reith lectures Grayson Perry called artists “Pilgrims on the Road to Meaning”. At New Blood Art we wanted to gain insight into our artists personal roads to meaning so we asked them 3 questions:

– Michaela Hollyfield

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The moment when you are at a party (for example) and someone asks: ‘What do you do?’ You say, ‘I’m an artist.’ Can you remember when that moment first happened for you and tell us about it?

So when I was younger I was very self conscious about calling myself an ‘artist’. 
I used to describe myself as a painter. Other people used to like to call me an artist and even though I was selling paintings at the time, I somehow felt unworthy of the title. Through doing the MA course at Aberystwyth School of Art, I finally feel that I have developed into an ‘artist’. 
In my life, I am also a mother and I have a part time job. Being an artist is one of my facets, but it is the one that gives me the biggest sense of pride as it is who I am essentially and after years of sacrificing the artist within me for the other roles I have had to play, I have space in my life to be that artist again and let that creativity flow.
So when I now say ‘ I am an artist’ at a party, I say it with pride and a sense that I am defining who I really am and who I have always been. 

Do you have any rituals or routines to help the creative process?
I find that in my practice I need to work on several paintings at once. Stretching my canvases and sizing them is an intrinsic part of my process. It gives me a sense of ownership on the surface I am working on and is a key ritual for me.
I further the connection with the canvas by staining it with thin layers of oil thinned out with turpentine. I make arbitrary marks and drops and then leave it to dry, while working on another one. I am at this moment using ‘Zest it’ as my thinner. I have noticed there is a difference between that and turpentine ( especially the cost), however it seems to be a good alternative.
Coffee is also a big part of my ritual and process!
Looking and responding to the marks and effects that have been made on the canvas through the staining process is part of my ritual too, and somehow getting into the ‘zone’ where I allow my subconscious to dictate my responses. Music is also a part of the creative process.
I need to work on many paintings at once otherwise I lose myself in one and then start to over work. By having several canvases ready and prepared I can keep the flow going and alternate my responses.
All of the motifs come from research, sketches, personal experiences and things which move me.
The work I am doing at this moment is heavily influenced by the Tim Buckley song ‘To the Siren’ which I have been trying to master on the guitar for nearly a year!

What was the best piece of advice you were given?
The best piece of practical advice I was given was to use many pots of turps or thinner for each colour, so as not to ‘muddy’ my colours and  to use glass as a palette. This advice was given to me by Rebecca Fortnum on my BA course back in 1994-1997.
My current MA tutor, Miranda Whall’s best bit of advice is to trust in my process, and my intuition. To allow it to be and be confident that everything I have done before hand has led to that moment.
Both tutors have had an invaluable influence on my creative development.

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