Sue Hall – The Artist’s Interview
Sue Hall’s vibrant Abstract artworks are imaginative and captivating. Richly coloured, full of detail and depth, when viewed on her website www.suehallart.co.uk, you can see the variety and uniqueness of Sue’s work, the imaginary patterns, the beautiful shapes and the colour explosions are all dazzling and punchy. I find artworks such as Breakthrough 10 & Breakthrough 11 to be multi-layered, having a unique deepness. City Lights 23 & City Lights 26 are painted in sumptuous detail, and are for me highly evocative of the hustle and bustle of cities, such as London & New York.
View Sue’s work on her website http://www.suehallart.co.uk/
Sue is also on Twitter
Please talk a bit about where you grew up and where you live now….
I grew up in Bedfordshire and, apart from a year in Norfolk, have lived there all my life. I’ve never felt the need to relocate and have never had to do so for work purposes. The town has changed and grown a lot, particularly over the last thirty years or so, but it’s still my home for now. I’d like to move somewhere a little more rural eventually so that I could have space for a larger studio.
How did you discover your passion to create art?
I can’t remember ever ‘discovering’ my passion for creating art, it’s just always been a part of me. My Father was a sculptor and my Mother painted so creating, making art, was a normal part of family life. Throughout my childhood and teens, I used wax crayons, felt-tipped pens and eventually poster paints to make shapes on paper, sometimes sticking several small pieces together to give me a larger surface to work on. I even painted a couple of Abstract murals on my bedroom wall – my parents were very tolerant!
I didn’t have the opportunity to study art so am completely self-taught. The creative side of me was largely forgotten and took a back seat once I started work and had a family, although I returned to it every now and then. Intermittently, I’ve worked my way through fabric and silk-painting, cake decorating, writing and such like. The realisation that painting is an inherent part of who I am, only happened relatively recently when I was commissioned out of the blue to paint something following a conversation. I now can’t believe I managed to get through over thirty years without painting! It explains why I’ve had a feeling of unrest for much of my adult life.
What is it that draws you to Abstract painting?
It wasn’t a conscious decision to paint in the Abstract style. To be honest, I’ve never considered painting any other way. I’m drawn to colour, form, and expression so Abstract art is the perfect vehicle or style for allowing me to experiment with process and application in order to develop my practice. This has resulted in me producing several very different series; who knows what will occur next? I rarely have a fixed idea about the finished painting when I start a new piece though, obviously, if I’m working on a new painting for an on-going series, I have a destination of some sort in mind. I let my intuition guide me and have learned it’s not to be argued with! Mostly I let the colours make the decisions and the shapes that appear also have a say in things. It actually takes a lot of concentration and effort to paint an Abstract piece as there’s nothing to look at and check that it’s ‘right’. It still has to have a balance or, maybe, a deliberate imbalance. The trick is knowing when that point has been reached and it’s what I love about Abstract art. I’ve been told that my work is ‘Abstract with purpose‘ in that much of it has roots in reality which I then interpret. I often find that one painting inspires another and I tend to work on one series at a time until either I feel as though I’ve exhausted it or another idea is calling and has to be attended to.
What are your strategies for marketing yourself?
This is the really tricky part of being an artist. It’s a very tough business for most of us and marketing, reaching the right audience, turning ‘likes’ into purchases is easier said than done, in my experience. Promotion has to be worked on constantly and consistently; a strong online presence is vital. Never shy away from opening conversations about art when the circumstances allow and always be professional, reliable and approachable. There’s no instant, magic formula; marketing is difficult and time-consuming and there’s no guarantee that sales will follow. I wish I had a fool-proof answer to this one!
Which artists do you admire and why?
I love art that makes my heart skip a beat, that intrigues me and stops me in my tracks, that is bursting with life, energy, and colour. The works of the following artists do just that: Kandinsky, Pollock, O’Keeffe, Rothko, Lichtenstein, Picasso, de Lempicka and Richter in no particular order and to name but a few. Their paintings were (or are) innovative, pushed boundaries, and were (or are) masters of form, colour and expression and inform a lot of today’s artists.
What much-needed advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a career as an Artist?
I would pass on some advice that was given to me several years ago: paint only for yourself. To add to this, I would say that the only way to find “yourself” is to practice and paint every moment that you can. You have to immerse yourself in it to the point of obsession. And try to be original. I believe art should come from the heart – that’s something that can’t be taught, but will happen if you allow it. Don’t worry about what other artists are doing; we all move along at different rates and have ups and downs. It’s part of the process. Part of me thinks that it’s not so much that we ‘choose’ a career in Art, more that, it chooses us. It’s a very difficult business to be in and in which to make your mark – no pun intended! Be prepared or setbacks but keep going, practice, practice, practice. No one has to see your art if you’re not happy with a particular piece. Move on and start again. Finally, always be professional and reliable – it’s a business, after all.
Which of your artworks are your favourites and why?
I tend to have a ‘soft spot’ for those paintings that have inspired a series to develop. City Lights was my first series, as it turned out, and as the sixth one was a Saatchi Showdown competition semi-finalist (and is now in a gallery in Chicago), it has to be a favourite. Breakthrough 1, so named because I felt I’d had a personal breakthrough in my approach to painting, is another favourite as is Hope Restored which I painted after working through a rare creative block. It’s difficult to give a definitive answer to this question because as my practice develops new favourites keep popping up.
As an artist, what would you say is your greatest success?
My instant response to this is that I’m still painting! However, I guess the Saatchi Showdown thing is notable as there were more than 3,000 paintings in that particular competition and I’d been painting seriously for only about 12 months when I entered it. I’m pretty sure that that led to the many invitations I continue to receive to exhibit all over the world. More recently, selling my work both internationally and closer to home gives me quite a buzz.