CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?
LR: I would say I fall into the abstract and semi abstract category of oil painting. My most pure abstract work comes out when I am representing sound and rhythm visually in a painting, and for me the abstract style really lends itself to this subject matter. When working on a portrait, I use a semi abstract style that combines a figure with an abstracted composition, to create a kind of hybrid space between realism and abstraction.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
LR: A few different places. I love early women pioneers of abstract painting. My top three have to be Sonia Delaunay from the Paris school; Vanessa Bell from the London Bloomsbury group; and Lee Krasner’s from the New York abstract expressionism scene. I am also a big music lover, especially instrumental jazz and electronic. Over the years these two interests have collided into my painting. I often return to the theories of Bauhaus and Wassily Kandinsky on the relationship between painting and music to spark inspiration for a new body of work.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
LR: It tends to unfold in stages, across reading, drawing and painting. I usually start by reading art theory to remind myself of the artwork and artists that excite me. If I am exploring a particular subject for a project, I’ll also read around that. I begin with a simple notebook where I write and draw out first ideas. Once an idea starts to show potential, I’ll move into a sketchbook and work up the compositions into detailed drawings. Next I move onto larger sheets of paper, where I work on final compositions in acrylic. Finally I transfer the composition onto canvas for oil painting. These steps have developed over a number of years, and giving myself the space to move through each of them helps to immerse me in the process of making an artwork.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
LR: What really excites me and what I am interested to share, is the ability of imagery to communicate non-verbally. In my abstract paintings, I explore how color and shape can be used to express sound – visualizing musical time, movement and rhythm as the subject. In my semi abstract portraits, it is how a person’s character can be communicated without the need for all the details to their appearance to be included. I am always looking to create excitement for the eye.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
LR: It’s something I weave into my everyday life. My partner and I originally met in a live/work warehouse set up in East London. Since then we always make space for a studio at home, which while on the smaller side, allows us to be flexible with when we work, keeps costs down and balances our family life. I have a few channels of work that generate my income and allow me to be creative in different ways. I have learnt to embrace creative commercial opportunities and build up the business side of my art practice. One of the most fun has been setting up a jazz record label with my partner called D.O.T. Records; he produces the music and I do the artwork. It’s a collaboration that works well!
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
LR: A bit of both. I am a planner who likes to set the groundwork for an artistic task and then let intuition take over. For example, I read a lot about color theory, and it now naturally makes its way into my paintings without thinking too much about it. I enjoy the creative space that appears between having a direction and then letting your instincts take over.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
LR: Hone your specialism. It is really easy to fall into a ‘jack of all trades’ way of working, and spreading your interests too thin. Over time I have focused on identifying what really excites me about making artwork, and working to develop that specialism. It’s okay to work in lots of different styles and materials behind the scenes, but make sure you have one or two that you really focus on, get good at and share those with your audience.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
LR: It’s definitely up there. Our personal style and taste is probably one of the most enjoyable things to discover about ourselves as artists. What makes us tick and finding a way to communicate that through artwork. It can take a while to find it, but once you hit on it, the ball starts rolling.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
LR: Self doubt. I find it’s all too easy to give myself a hard time about an artwork I’ve made, or a new idea I have. The process of making artwork is highly personal and one of the best skills I’ve learnt is to acknowledge that feeling of hesitation is always going to be there, and to go ahead and make the work anyway. Something interesting usually happens.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
LR: That golden time when I’m in the middle of a painting, and in the flow of making. I’ve got my music on, I’m not thinking so much as doing, connecting my hand, eyes and mind to create something new.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
LR: As touched on earlier, I take a lot of inspiration from early pioneering women artists working in abstract painting. Many of them had lives that overshadowed their careers at the time they were alive, but today brilliant work is being done by art historians to uncover their artwork and share their stories through books and exhibitions. One of my favorites is the recent uncovering of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, who was alive in the 19th century and is now considered one of the first abstract artists. Her work changes the whole narrative on the ‘discovery’ of abstract painting.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
LR: I think it is impossible to ignore it, so we might as well embrace it. When it comes to painting, I admit I am a purist. In today’s digital world, I enjoy painting as a process using my hands, away from screens. That said, a lot of my creative income comes from embracing technology. Digitizing artworks for prints, and designing album covers, all involve technology. It is also a great tool that has allowed artists today to take control of their public image and sell their work independently.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
LR: I think what a lot of artists have in common, no matter what their practice is, is an interest in interpreting aspects of the world and sharing that view point. I am a believer that everyone has creativity in them, it’s a case of tapping into it, switching on that part of your brain and personality.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
LR: I do enjoy traveling, and love going to different cities to explore their culture and to soak up the artistic heritage that each one has to offer. In terms of favorites, it is my home city of London! It’s a city that gives so much creatively, across art, music and design. You can rub up against the history and the newest of ideas all on one road. I enjoy the mixture of it all.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
LR: I think Virginia Woolf has to be up there. I remember the first time I read ‘To the Lighthouse’ with its stream of consciousness style of writing. It is probably one of my influences into how abstraction can generate meaning and feeling outside of conventional ways of communicating. It’s amazing how her writing is over 100 years old now, and was so experimental for the time.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
LR: I am currently finishing off my first collection of oil paintings, on the relationship between abstract painting and music, called ‘No Words, Only Feelings’. The new collection is around 18 paintings. Once completed the next step is to apply for art fairs and exhibition opportunities. I’m planning to release the collection for sale, both as originals and a new set of art prints. My partner and I are also working on our next D.O.T. Records release – watch this space!
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
LR: Being an artist is about being true to yourself. Creating time and space where you can explore your ideas through making something new, in a way that is unique to you. It’s about contributing to a wider conversation around your discipline or theme, and moving things forward.
CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?
LR: Alice Coltrane, The Sun, a track from her first solo album after John Coltrane passed away the previous year.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
LR: While a lot of my artwork is about visualizing sound and rhythm through color and shape, I am also interested in exploring the internal structure of abstract painting, and seek to portray aspects of our human experience through it. I combine realism and abstraction, in a blending that is played out through the creative process. Over time I’ve developed my own visual language, a way of seeing the world through the imaginary picture plane, seeking to connect conscious and unconscious parts of our experience through the process of painting.