What a great opportunity to be wandering and creating with Mixed Media Artist Shelley Rhodes. Shelley speaks our language! I’m sure it’s going to be difficult to choose between these two workshop destinations with Shelley…. the wild, rugged coastline of Ireland or the magical island of Sardinia in Italy. Here’s a little inspiration from Shelley to help you decide.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and your art.
A: My work combines paper, drawings, mark making, fabric and stitch. I am interested in detail, extracting small marks found in nature or on man-made objects. I like to walk and often draw what I see as I move through the landscape, recording the little things that go un-noticed. It could be impressions left behind in the mud or sand, ripples, leaves, grasses, cracks or peeling paint. I also gather as I walk and use my found collection as inspiration for further drawing and mark making.
Recording a journey has long been a passion. Whenever I travel, I record what I see. Drawings, paintings, collage, words, photographic images and found objects become an integral part of my sketchbooks. I enjoy the freedom and spontaneity that working in sketchbooks brings.
Q: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
A: I was following an academic route at school and suddenly realized that what I actually loved and wanted to do for the rest of my life was art. I dropped mathematics, switched to art and applied to do an Art Foundation Course. I have had an art related career ever since and never regretted that decision.
Q: Tell us about a day in the life – or a day in the studio, to be precise! What does it look like (and feel like)? What can you share about your process or routines?
A: I do tend to flit between one activity and another, rather than spending a whole day on one thing. So I may spend a couple of hours on the computer planning workshops and doing administration, then a couple of hours drawing or mark making, followed by time stitching. In between there will probably be the odd half hour gardening or sorting out the washing. I find having a bit of time away from creating allows me to really think about a piece and come back to it with fresh eyes. However, sometimes I need a full day of studio work, so I can really get to grips with a new piece of work.
Q: Where does the magic happen? What does your creative space look like?
A: I am lucky enough to have two workspaces. I have a large studio at the back of my house, which I use mainly for teaching my workshops. I need to keep this clutter free so there is room for my students! I also have a room in my house which is very personal, cluttered and completely chaotic – yet somehow, I am usually able to put my hand on exactly what I need. Over recent years, my textile work has been mainly hand stitched which I like to sit and do during the evening or on the patio on a sunny afternoon.
A: I always carry with me, something to draw with and draw on.
Q: Where do you derive inspiration?
A: All kinds of things from the landscape, natural world, old rusty machinery, architecture to beach combing finds. I often start with a collection of found objects which could be natural or manmade. I use this as a source of inspiration to extract detail, marks, pattern, colour and shape.
Q: Does your creativity ever stall? What do you do when that happens?
A: Fortunately, hardly ever. If I feel a bit stuck or need to get started, I always start by drawing, mark making and even just writing down words related to my subject.
Q: How does travel inspire your work?
A: I am always very excited about travelling and visiting new places. I find that taking the time to sit and sketch is far more enjoyable and satisfying that just taking photographs. It really gets me to slow down, absorb my surroundings and select what is really of interest to me.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: Working with other creative people and seeing how they grow in confidence, as their work progresses. I find that on workshops everyone is so generous with sharing ideas, materials and new products that I invariably also learn something new, which is wonderful.
A: I love exploring new places, collecting, drawing and recording what I see. Doing this with like minded people will be fantastic.
Q: Do you journal or sketch?
A: All the time. I have several sketchbooks and workbooks on the go at any time and I aim to do something creative every day. This year, I decided to share a small daily creative act every day on my instagram page. www.instagram.com/shelleyrhodesartist
Q: If you could take only five items to create with while on vacation (not necessarily a workshop – any vacation), what would they be?
A: small sketchbook – I often make my own, as I particularly like concertina books
mechanical pencil – creates a lovely fine line with no need to sharpen
set of water colour paints – I like to use layers of colour to transform quick sketches.
tiny pot of PVA glue or acrylic medium – I love to stick ephemera and found objects into my sketchbooks and journals and incorporate with my drawings.
ink – I use found objects to make into drawing tools. I also love the unpredictability of ink as it runs, splatters and drips.
A: Since leaving art college, I have always had a creative job. Firstly as a graphic designer, then an art teacher in secondary school. A new job for my husband meant a move to a new area, so I had to leave my job. This change in circumstances seemed the ideal time for me to start teaching freelance, allowing more time for my own art work.
Q: What mediums would you like to pursue but haven’t yet?
A: I’ve dabbled with natural dyes but I would like to explore this more fully in the future.
Q: Any tips for balancing creative time and administrative duties?
A: I try to deal with things as soon as they come in, otherwise they tend to slip down my ‘to do list’. However, this doesn’t always happen and occasionally I have full ‘paperwork’ day, to try to clear the backlog.
Q: If you could spend an afternoon with any artist, dead or alive, who would that be?
A: There are so many artists whose work I admire and I tend to dip in and out of looking at the work of various artists depending what I am working on at the time. One of my favourite artists is Barbara Rae, so it would be great to spend some time with her.
Q: Favorite books that help keep the creative juices flowing?
A: A lot of my work is to do with fragmentation, deconstruction and repair. I have a book called ‘Boro – rags and tatters from the North of Japan’, which I absolutely love and really inspires my work.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote that gives you inspiration?
A: ‘The Utmost for the Highest’ – it is my old school motto and I really feel that if you put 100% effort in to everything you do then ultimately you will achieve your goals. I never say ‘that will do’, but always ask myself ‘is it the best I can do’.
A: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed? No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’ [Samuel Beckett]
Fear of failure often stops us exploring, experimenting and trying something new. This helps me to remember, that not everything I create will work or be successful but it is important to keep working at it.
Q: Where can we find you and your work?
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