I met the lovely Eva Dominelli, an artist who is attending Emily Carr University in the Illustration Program. We met this past summer on Mayne Island. She was given an assignment to talk to a local (sort of) artist about their work and process, and thought of me for her interview.
I thought I would share our Q&A on here to give some insight on my process and work.
1. Have you always worked with acrylagouache? How did you discovered your medium?
I went through a cycle of trying different mediums before falling in love with acrylagouache. In highschool I would always use acrylic paint but found that I would always water them down..which doesn’t quite nail the consistency that I was looking for. I then used colored inks which was a lot of fun, and I used those for quite some time. I explored watercolors around this time as well, but found that the color and vividness didn’t really satisfy me as I had hoped.
A few years ago we had the opening show in my partner’s mobile art gallery OuterSpace Gallery and the artist, James Kirkpatrick, stayed with us bringing along these beautiful japanese gouache paints. Having never really used gouache that much, I tried out a few of his and fell in love! I went and bought a few tubes and have been using them specifically ever since, for almost three years now.
2. In reference to your series ‘Tall Tales’, you speak of the malleable qualities that stories have. How does this relate to your internal process and your relationship to these stories as you interpret and translate them into your own painted version?
I have a huge love and respect for stories and writers. I would love to write and illustrate a book but find that the word aspect just doesn’t work out on my end. I love how there are stories, folklore, urban legends, etc that get passed from person to person, different generations, and idea will more or less be the same. Like the game “Telephone.” I find that the characters I explore are definitely like a storybook in my mind, and my paintings are my way of sharing that with everyone else, creating my own tall tales.
3. I notice a lot of duality in your work — night and day, double mouths and faces— as well as unlikely combinations. Where does your imagery and juxtapositions originate? How do you go about constructing an image?
Often I will have a character, shape, or idea replaying over and over in my head and I will keep coming back to it. Draw it out, play with it, and then bring it to life. The idea of opposites has always been a reoccurring theme or idea in my head. These days I’m looking at it as a balance between everything - whether that’s day and night, or human life and plant life - and how two different sides can struggle, work together and find harmony. I suppose a big part of this is also find harmony within yourself and recognizing the different aspects that are part of you.
4. What or who inspires your ornate patterns and vivid colour pallet?
I’m very inspired by architecture. The shapes and line work found in religious buildings and monuments are a huge factor in my work right now, and I’m looking forward to exploring those references more. I find that the colors are inspired by that as well. I also have a hard time sticking to certain colors and find that I want to add more and more, which can lead to a pretty mixed and strange color pallet (I find). I go through cycles with the work when I feel like there are so many contrasting and opposite colors and that it can look like a mess. ..but in the end it just seems to work.
5. How does the culture or landscape of Vancouver Island influence your work?
Having grown up on Vancouver Island and, for the most part, living on the West Coast for most of my life, I think that the environment and landscape of this area naturally would influence aspects of my work. I can’t pinpoint the direct sources or how exactly it does, but I’m sure it’s there. I relocated to Powell River just over a year ago and have found so much beauty in the nature and the area here. The silence. The wildlife. The plant life. This is something I’m hoping to explore more closely in the future.
6. How do you develop a series? Do you plan it ahead of time?
I find that a series sort of forms itself in my work. I have a hard time staying within a strict theme or idea, and find that my paintings always sort of link together, forming a bigger more intricate theme. Something that is changing and growing.
7. If you could offer yourself a piece of advice when you were starting out with what you know now, what would it be?
Focus. Do what you love. Work through the pieces you don’t love. Start over. Make mistakes. Explore color.