Please describe your practice for us in 3 adjectives.
Calming, Reflective, Sustainable
What is your earliest memory associated with art?
I liked to draw animals and insects when I was young and I have two very famous pieces in the Buchanan household! The first drawing is a very round and disproportionate sketch of a bumble bee with ‘big-bum-bob-bee’ written boldly above the bug. The second drawing is a very round splotch with very disproportionate legs called ‘Spid’. They might not be masterpieces but they definitely make us laugh!
Please could you tell us who or what has had the most significant influence on you as an artist.
I didn’t start to really explore the Kent countryside until I started cycling so I think my bike was probably the best tool for getting new inspiration!
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Allowing myself to pursue my art professionally gives me a kind of freedom I would never feel if I were doing something else. To be allowed to paint all day and better your craft at the same time is a complete luxury. I love the efficiency too. I never spend time watching the clock because it’s all up to me. Being self-employed is scary, but I make weekly, monthly and yearly goals so I can stay on track and really feel like I have achieved something when I finish the day.
And the worst..!?
Obviously, there are bad days. In the studio, sometimes there will be moments where you see yourself making technical mistakes you thought you had overcome, or you make a mistake on a painting that was going really well. It happens. I reflect best when I am on the move, so if I have a problem I can’t get past, I go for a walk. Thinking about a painting away from the studio can be just as valuable, as you don’t make rash decisions and you get to work on the problem with a little perspective.
When we can travel again, what international art destination do you most want to visit?
I’d love to spend some time doing a residency in France or Italy, somewhere with brilliant sunlight and a vast terrain!
What work of art would you most like to own?
Easy. Laura Knight’s ‘Self-Portrait’, 1913. I must have seen this piece for the first time about 10 years ago in the National Portrait Gallery and every time I visit, I go back to take a peek. Compositionally, it’s genius. Knight portrays herself with her back to the viewer but everything about the painting draws your eye to her. I can’t get enough of it!
Which artist (alive or dead) would you most like to have dinner with and why?
If I could go back in time I’d definitely like to talk to Laura Knight. Her influence at the Royal Academy was one of the most pivotal points for women in the art world and I would love to hear about her experiences.
Please could you tell us about the piece of artwork you are most proud.
I’m sorry to say I don’t feel very proud of my paintings. I see them as works in progress, experiments. I have never looked at something and thought ‘yes, that’s good enough’. Usually, I think ‘Okay that’s finished. If I did it again, how would I improve it?’ However, If I had to choose one it would probably be ‘The Wonder Tree’ because that has been my most successful ‘experiment’ so far.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
Instagram or Facebook?
What advice would you give to those aspiring to make a living out of art?
Try to separate yourself from your artwork. If you think of your work as a product then rejection is much easier to take, and believe me, there will be a lot of rejection. I think in this digital age having a social media presence is also a must. Don’t worry if you aren’t posting a new piece every day, show your followers what your studio is like, works in progress or the steps involved in your specialist medium. I have been surprised at the amount of people who have been interested in why I use orange or pink as a toned ground, or why I choose to stitch my canvases. People want to know about you too.
What is the most important thing to know about you?
I am not a naturally talented artist. I did not draw masterpiece portraits while my classmates where drawing stick men or really show artistic promise when I was young! One thing which has become very clear to me is that talent is actually a very small part of being an artist. I strongly believe that with a passion for creating and a hard-working ethic, you will be able to make huge strides in your artistic career regardless of pure talent. It’s cyclical, if you work hard, paint every day and love what you do then your skills will develop as a result.
Please tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.
I have colour synaesthesia, which means I associate specific colours with letters and numbers in my head. If I read a word it will pop up in my mind in colour which helps me to spell as I know the colour schemes of words. It also helps me to remember phone numbers too!
Thank you so much to my family and friends who constantly support me in my artistic journey. Without your encouragement, patience and enthusiasm I wouldn’t be doing what I love for a living and I am truly grateful to you all.