Ruth Mulvie is a new artist at the gallery who has brightened up our walls with her vivid and colourful artwork! In this blog post we get to know Ruth a little bit better...
Can you tell me about your creative process?
As a working mum of two young boys, time is really important to me so I have a few routines and habits so I can get straight into my work. I don't have time to waste so I need to know exactly what I am doing when I get into my studio.
I always start off with a large cup of good coffee! I get to my studio and stick my work clothes on and the first thing I do is evaluate the previous day's work. I have a good look at what I've done... often I will make the most dramatic changes to a painting at the end of the day when I am really well warmed up - like changing an entire background from purple to orange, or adding characters or animals. Once I figure out if it's worked I have a long hard look at what I need to add, change or take away., and then I start to work. The next thing I do is start to mix up my colours, this takes me 10 minutes or so, and I mix a light medium and mid tone which I work out of. I have 2 palettes on the go at the same time and make sure they are pristine and always use fresh turps. Keeping my colours bright and immaculate is vital for my work.
I always have music when I am working, unless I am correcting a mistake. I choose different music depending on what I'm working into. If I'm starting a painting I choose music with energy and pace, if I'm working onto figures, animals or detailed sections of painting I will choose something more low key that will help me concentrate. I switch up my pace between the morning and the afternoon.
Then I get going. I make sure I have planned my composition and I use digital collage to create the compositions so I have a group of these ready to go so I can choose which one I want to work into. I usually have two or three canvasses on the go at the same time, all at different stages.
Your work is so colourful, what does colour mean to you and why is it so important in your artwork?
Colour is everything to me in my work. It's mood, it's feeling, it's my escape, and for me it's why I'm a painter. I think everyone sees the world in a different way but I experience it a lot through colour. The brighter the more beautiful. Strangely in my own living environment everything has to be white or grey! I suppose colour has too much of an emotional response to me. I need to live in calm white spaces. But these are perfect to hang my work on! My work looks great on white, black or grey.
I've got particular colours I love and always use... I've always got turquoise, and I always mix my flesh tints in a particular way, also my shadows are always full of purple. If I order a new paint it's mega exciting for me when it arrives! I use Michael Harding paint and sometimes pay over £40 for a small tube. It's liquid gold! I'm always looking at other work and thinking about introducing more colours and how they affect people.
I often wear bright colours. You know when I'm having a bad day because I'm all in black. Colour affects my mood immensely; it wraps me up and invokes an energy in me...
One of my idols is David Hockney. I love the fact that as a most mature painter his colours are becoming even wilder and wilder. That is pure 'I don't give a damn' confidence!
Your work has an almost retro feel to it, what is your inspiration?
Yes it does. Well I've always loved the seaside. When I moved down to live in Brighton my brother said to me 'you are going to your spiritual home'. At art school I loved trips to Blackpool, as well as theme parks. Blackpool pleasure beach itself is retro! And so is a lot of the British seaside. I also trawl through masses of old imagery off lidos, Vegas, holiday snaps and other peoples postcards to find the imagery I want to use for my paintings.
Old photographs have a particular quality to them. The coloured Kodachrome is more vibrant and saturated than pictures are nowadays unless you treat them with filters.
I also just love the way women looked and people posed in the postcards too. They were staged like mannequins and dolls, each playing a part in a more enchanting scene of a fake happy holiday world. I love the clothes, the prints and patterns particularly of fifties and sixties, the glamour.
What tips do you have for aspiring artists?
I think the biggest tip I would have is to persevere. It's really hard being an artist and there is masses of competition, however to quote some stats at you...
'The number of jobs in the Creative Industries (including both creative and support jobs), increased by 3.2% between 2014 and 2015 to 1.9 million jobs. This was an increase of 19.5% since 2011'
Jobs in the creative industries are one of the fastest growing sectors. In the next ten years I expect this will increase further which is fantastic for creative's as more and more jobs become available.
I was very lucky to earn my place at art school. There was masses of competition and I happened to be the person that was picked for the place. I didn't start off at art school though. I succumbed to a bit of parental pressure and started off studying film and English for a Year at Glasgow before I changed to my Fine Art Painting degree. My other piece of advice would be to follow your heart. Don't give up. Do what you love. I think it is part of human nature to want to create, whether it's crafting, designing, building, digging, growing a garden. In troubled times, being a creative has a very important role to play in our human connection.
Animals appear in your artwork a lot - is there a significance to this?
I wouldn't say there is a significance to the animals. Throughout art history animals have been imbued with significance, for example a recent painting I am working on has peacocks in it. Peacocks can symbolise many things... grace, beauty, dignity, lots of characteristics that humans aspire to. I like this fact buy it is not my sole reason for adding them to the work.
Another painting I am working on is a night time called 'Sinatra's House'. There are penguins leaping into the pool and a polar bear walking across the pool side. I really like the surreal element of this. That it couldn't really happen, but it is almost tangible in the space.
I had a phase when I would dream about talking lions and tigers and I loved painting the piece 'Tiger'. I know it's surreal, but I also like the fact that the Tiger could be a pet in a luxury Hollywood setting.
In my recent works I am developing I have been studying 'Garden of Earthly Delights' by Hieronymus Bosch. it is full of animals and women cavorting and playing in a utopia. I have borrowed this title for my most recent group of paintings and most of them feature women, water and animals.
In your opinion, what makes a memorable piece of art?
A memorable piece of art is a piece of art that intrigues you and evokes an emotional response inside you. Not necessarily always a positive one. I would call this an 'art experience'. I very clearly remember seeing the work in the Pompidou Centre in Paris of Barnett Newman, the abstract expressionist who painted 'Shining Forth' when I teenager. It's essentially a white canvas with 3 black lines on it. But it's not that simple... something happens to the white space next to the black and it appears to pour off the canvas. I also remember the feeling of sublime relaxation sitting in the Rothko room and just letting the red swallow me up. I loved that.
I think the Gallery environment has a massive part to play with your experience of the work. I remember the dimness in the Van Gogh museum then the electrifying colours of his work searing through the space. I loved seeing the Ballet Dancer drawing again in Paris by Degas.
I often go up North to visit a good friend who lives in Shipley and I always visit the Salt Mills Museum which is home to a large collection of work by Hockney. Last time I was there I saw a massive collection of prints of landscapes Hockney had done on his iPad. They were magnificent. i would take them all home if I could! In terms of buying a piece of art, if you see it and you can't stop thinking about it, and it keeps coming back to you, buy it. It might not be there the next time you go to visit the Gallery!
Shop Ruth's original art here: https://goo.gl/VzTwBX
Shop Ruth's limited edition prints here: https://goo.gl/pImjy7