February's Artist of the Month is Bea Roberts. Bea's work is predominantly figurative, and she depicts vibrant animals and faces. Below, she has answered a few questions about her work and her life as an artist.
When and how did your interest in art develop?
I have always drawn and painted and knew that I wanted to be an artist of some sort from about the age of 9 or 10. I do remember one time in junior school, I would have been about 7 years old, and they brought a stuffed pheasant into the class to paint. Well, I just painted it, but the teacher seemed to literally rave at my artwork, bringing other staff members into the class to see what I'd produced. A few years later I discovered pastel portrait painters whilst on holiday and was transfixed. After that I started drawing portraits of all kinds; pop stars, my family and friends, and I had my first solo exhibition at my local library aged 14.
What influences your art?
Well I don't have any particular themes that influence my art really. I usually paint people and animals – figurative and portrait artwork is my thing really. Slightly more hard hitting stuff does come out now and then (I was in an abusive marriage for many years) so sometimes the odd feminist idea comes along, but mostly I paint anything with a face in a quirky style, which hopefully brings a smile to the viewer's face.
What process do you go through when you are creating a piece (starting with the initial idea)?
Although I sometimes paint straight onto canvas, most of my work is in mixed media on paper, so I do often go through a process with the works on paper, which is laying down a shape – a blob – using a monoprint. This I do by applying a painted shape, or shapes, to a piece of glass or perspex, and making a print of it onto a sheet of paper. This shape then becomes my starting point to mould into the subject. My portraits and animal paintings all start off like this and I never plan, so what I end up with is as much of a surprise for me as anyone else.
Which artists, if any, have you drawn inspiration from?
I am inspired by artists who paint in a raw or child-like style, for example Matteo Cocci, Michelle Roberts or Tracy Algar (plus many more!) I am not really into realism or very polished work.
Do you have a favourite piece? If so, which one and why?
Not really. I am incredibly self-critical and find it hard not to pick fault with my work the whole time. I sort of like my quirky fish and octopus people, but I don't have any particular favourites really.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I hope they are amused and uplifted (enough to buy something.)
What has been the highlight of your artistic career?
I suppose having some of my images picked up for the film The Nine Lives Of Louis Drax, which should be imminent for release is the highlight so far. The set designer contacted me wanting to use some of my fish, octopus and people paintings in the psychologist's office. She purchased nine images, but as the film is not yet out I don't know if they have been used, but fingers crossed!
Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you? If so, how?
Yes indeed. It's great to be part of a community of artists who face the same struggles as I do and who probably have similar aspirations. I also, of course, get to see lots of other wonderful artwork.