Tell us a bit about your creative process. You paint without a plan, so how do you start and when do you know a work is finished?
Starting a new series is so exciting, I love the potential of the white canvas. I usually start with 4 – 10 fresh canvases or wood panels and lay them all out on the floor and hung on the walls. A cuppa in hand I just look for a while in the quiet of the studio, then I get a good soundtrack going (music is essential) and just begin. Once I start it’s usually pretty fast paced, if we’re doing it then lets GO!
I relish in the freedom of mixing colours and attacking the canvases. I hop from one canvas to the next, sometimes pushing them together side-by-side. They’re up on the walls one minute then on the floor the next. Bouncing between multiple canvases keeps the marks energised and stops me getting ‘bogged down’ in details too early. These early layers are about capturing that fizzing energy. As the layers build, the process slows down and I’m making more considered moves as I begin to see a land or seascape emerging. I have to trust the process and allow the paintings to grow.
Knowing when it’s finished is sometimes tricky. It is always based off a feeling rather than capturing the resemblance of a specific place. If I feel it’s close but not quite there yet, I’ll ignore it for a few days or weeks. Then, with fresh eyes I can instantly recognise what it needs.
What are the best things about being an artist, and what are the most challenging?
Creating something from nothing – When you finally finish a painting and it gives you that ‘oooooh’ that’s a golden feeling.
Seeing people’s reaction when they just ‘get it’ – When you’re at an art fair or hosting open studios and someone bee lines for ‘the one’ and they tell you what it reminds them of, the bits they love, they see things like crocodiles and wind surfers (and I think well that certainly wasn’t what I was intending), but it’s fascinating to see other people’s minds unravel over a painting. Interpreting different things all based off their experiences and lives lived.
Working for myself – Flexibility around my young family, freedom, and no commute.
Creating something from nothing is an emotional rollercoaster – There’s no exact science to creating a painting or time frame. I mean I start fast and energised, it slows down, there’s a messy middle stage that I come through, then I find a resolution. But each painting is different. Some flow, some take months and I want to put them on the bonfire mid way.
Seeing people’s reaction – You need a thick skin to be an artist and to follow your gut, not those well-meaning opinions.
Working for myself – I’m the worst boss, I have high standards, no sick days and expect a lot to get done in a day!
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Yes, that was always the dream. My mum painted abstracts as a hobby when I was younger and my dad ran his own business. After studying Illustration (the sensible option), I was a freelance illustrator alongside my ‘day job’, I also loved printmaking and sold my own work through small galleries and craft fairs. I was always making something.
I got a full time job in marketing for a while but was so frustrated, I needed to create things off-screen, but it paid the bills. Later down the line I was made redundant whilst 8 months pregnant. Well… that shot a rocket up my bum! I realised I didn’t want this ‘creative thing’ to be on the sidelines any longer. I suppose I could see how life would roll and get busy and I’d always think ‘what if?’. So, once my daughter Libby was 3 months old I carved out some childcare time each week to go and paint.
You studied Illustration and practiced printmaking, what was it about paint that drew you to changing your artistic medium?
I did, I got into printmaking whilst at university; monotypes in particular (which is very much like painting but in reverse). The tactile quality I got from a print and the unpredictable nature I loved. I was never exactly sure how the relief would come out and that element of surprise was thrilling. I had an urge to work much bigger, but was limited to my A3 etching press.
Painting was the answer, I LOVED the immediacy of the paint and the textures I could create through layering, sanding and scraping through. I’d painted before of course, but always an object or a place. I took a course and the key learning was to keep reacting to the mark before and allow the painting grow. I loved that. Painting became an experiment, pushing and pulling back, taking risks, being bolder each time, rather than aiming for the finish line. It also allowed for those ‘surprise moments’ I had cherished in printmaking.
What is your biggest inspiration? Is there something you hope to communicate with your art?
I just love being in vast, dramatic landscapes. Something about being so small in these expansive, weathered places fills me with a sense of freedom, energy and power. Think Iceland, Scotland, the Lake District, the Welsh coast and Cornwall. I realise some people find these natural environments calming and grounding, looking out to sea or mountains but it’s almost the opposite for me. I feel energised, alive and filled with this new sense of freedom; and that’s what I hope to bring into peoples homes. Renewed energy, a feeling of freedom and a zest for life.
What has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Ooh it’s been a good year so I’ve got two. My first solo show was at Cambridge Contemporary Art (Feb 2023) and the exhibition showed a whopping 38 paintings. It was incredible to see an entire gallery space with my work and see the connections between the paintings. It was colour, power and energy all in one room. The response, feedback and sales were fantastic. Then, in April my biggest painting yet (1.5 x 2 meters) ‘Unforgiving Elements’ was part of the Chaiya Art Awards winners exhibition at the iconic OXO Tower in London.
What is your ideal working environment? Do you listen to music, withdraw into your own space, get into nature?
I tend to ‘fill up’ with inspiration visiting places, drawing, taking photos and then withdraw to my studio at the end of my garden which is very long so it’s quiet and peaceful down there. I have two children aged 2 and 4 so I usually start a studio day with a bit of silence and a cuppa to reset, while I look at the paintings in progress. Then I need music to paint. It’s either fast or chilled there’s no in between for some reason. At the moment it’s mostly Kings of Leon or Joy Crooks.
My Life in Art – Georgia Elliott
- First piece of art you bought?
A limited edition print by Jane Human, I collected it in person and met her at her London Studio. I had recently graduated and she was incredibly generous with her time and advice for me.
- Favourite artist?
John Virtue – the epic scale of his works and their tremendous power. I saw his exhibition in Eastbourne back in 2015 and I was there over 2 hours. Also, Joan Eardley, Barabra Rae, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Wadsworth, Richard Hearns and Day Bowman. They’re worth a google!
- If you could own any piece of art (even if you have to rob a bank or museum!) what would it be and why?
Basically anything by Helen Frankenthaler. One of her pieces was at the Tate Modern many years ago and it was mesmerising. I’d be on the hunt for ‘spellbound’ 1991 150 x 205cm or ‘Poseidon’ 1990 which is more than 8 feet wide and evokes ocean currents. That beautiful swelling light turquoise and white paint has me entranced, and that sharp orange contrasting line is just magic.
Helen Frankenthaler, Poseidon 1990
Helen Frankenthaler, Spellbound 1991
Visit Georgia Elliott on our website and have a browse of her beautiful artworks!
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