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August 22, 2023
Left to right artworks by Amanda Gosse, Stella Tooth and Helen Trevisiol Duff
When you're in a museum or art gallery, without looking at the label, can you make an educated guess on who the artist is?
Helen Trevisiol Duff speaks to Amanda Gosse and Stella Tooth at Skylark Galleries about how they found their artistic voice and what it means to them.
Every artist has their own voice and their own way of creating their vision. This artistic voice is always evolving through repetition, searching, practice and passion. Authenticity, authentication and provenance are all important as artists become more established and well known.
Many artists start off like myself with a formal art education in traditional methods and having studied at degree level at art college go on to acquire many skills over many different media, before homing in to a consistent practice.
Other artists are self-taught and home in on their skills through experimentation and practice. There's no right or wrong in finding your artistic voice as long as it's authentic.
Some artists combine other employment alongside their practice before getting to a stage where they make the leap into a full time practice and become professional. Then being identifiable from their work is more important. They need to find their niche, continually working within either their subject matter, medium or theme until their voice gets louder.
Mallee Parrot by Amanda Gosse Fine Art Print £50
I asked Amanda Gosse how she found her artistic voice. Born in Australia and brought up in SE England, Amanda’s love of art began when she was a child, with many hours spent drawing in a disused caravan on her family's farm. She loved watching her mother, also an artist,creating sketches and paintings, working with watercolours and pastel Creativity was always encouraged at home and there was no shortage of inspiration from wildlife and nature.
In the late 1980s, Amanda’s mother and her partner converted their oast house into an art gallery where local artists and sculptors showed their work. She was surrounded by artists and creativity. Amanda’s love of birds (which is the subject matter of much of her work) began as a child. Her mother, a member of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), signed her up as a member of the YOC (Young Ornithologist's Club).
As a young girl Amanda used to love leafing through the Reader’s Digest Book of British Birds and she later learned that there were bird enthusiasts on the Australian side of her family too — most exciting of all was finding a copy of Popular British Ornithology, published in 1853, written and illustrated by naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, grandfather of artist Sylvia Gosse, to whom Amanda is proudly related.
Amanda’s preferred media are acrylic and gouache and her style is usually strong in colour and sharp in detail – a reflection of her background in print, graphic art and design. She says, “painting for me has been a way of combining two things which are fundamentally important to me: creativity and birds. I've explored various creative pursuits over the years and had a long career in graphic art and design and now, painting professionally, feel as though I have come full circle. I am now enjoying experimenting with new ideas and seeing where more dedicated time takes me."
Elvis Costello mixed media artwork by Stella Tooth £395
Stella Tooth is a London-based portrait and performer-inspired artist who collaborates in storytelling with those she portrays. She captures a life lived up to this moment.
I asked Stella how did she discover her artistic voice? “I retrained as a portrait artist in oils after a career in journalism and broadcast news pr. Although I acquired the technical skill, I had no idea who I was as an artist. Thankfully an early gallerist gave me “permission“ to blend fine art with the sixties pop art I so admired in a new subject matter that had me in thrall - performers. She taught me to slow down, to explore painting the same busker in different compositions, colours and media, while keeping an eye on storytelling. I owe her much.“
Stella brings individual stories to life in drawings, mixed media, digital and oil paintings. As an experienced journalist, she can also tell people's stories in words and regularly works on commissions. Portraits can mark special moments in a person’s history and are a daily reminder on the wall of who the sitter is and where they belong.
As Resident Artist at the legendary music venue the Half Moon Putney, Stella has portrayed old hands like T’pau and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, as well as up and coming artists. Winner of the Judges’ Prize as Egypt’s first art biennale, Stella has exhibited with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Milan Expo (2015). She is also a founding member of the Lots Road Group of portraitists.
You can see Stella's work at her forthcoming open studios part of BEAT, the Borough of Ealing Art Trail, on weekends 9/10 and 16/17 September from 11am-6pm, where she will be opening her home studio (venue 50+) and has invited fellow Skylark Galleries Artist Sarah Knight to join her. Venue details: 94 Elers Road, London W13 9QE. Closest tube Northfields (Piccadilly Line).
Helen Trevisiol Duff
Dandelion Dreams by Helen Trevisiol Duff £120.
Our artistic voices are deep rooted and reflect our past experiences, influences, style, subject matter, and often evolve over several mediums and decades of getting things right and wrong.
For me my voice is conveyed through my design background and is expressed by using watercolours and printmaking primarily these days.
I started off as a fashion illustrator in my 20’s working on drawings for in-house couture, magazines and fashion week. This was a fast learning curve as it was my full time career and, being freelance, I had to be on top of my game to keep getting more work and pay the bills.I worked on illustration projects for high street multiples including NEXT and John Lewis.
I still work on commissions alongside my gallery work. My subject matter is wildlife and landscape. The world around us.
Printmaking in the last few years has become really important in my practice and having access to several print studios I've been able to use the method of collograph printmaking to express how I feel about my surroundings. My subject matter reflects where I live and the joy it gives me. Being Unique and identifiable It's possible to be unique in the artworld.
However, with social media access to an infinite range of work, this can be really confusing for up and coming artists who are trying to find their voice. Being consistent across a body of work is the way many artists claim their identity. Many artists are consistent across a medium but use several mediums such as printmaking and painting.
An artist's voice is unlike anyone or anything else. Created from reflecting on our own work and evolving that authentic work from our own unique research and narrative. We discover, and find our voices, through practice and age.
When you think of the French impressionist Monet he painted over 250 water lily paintings depicting his garden at Giverny, and these were the main focus of his artistic production during the last 30 years of his life. I believe our "handwriting" or "signature" will come through despite the medium we use, if we are true to ourselves.
Harvest Flight by Helen Trevisiol Duff £120
An actual artist's signature is not only their calling card but also gives additional value, claims ownership and marks a work as finished. Many artists these days sign their signature on the back. As an artist develops their artistic voice, their signature is an extension of this. This finishing signature represents the artist's personality, voice and should complement the work.
“No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition“ - Claude Monet.
A true artist is not one who is inspired but who inspires others.” - Salvador Dali.
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