I absolutely adore Amy Winstanley's abstract paintings, especially because of her color choices, which range from light (but not fluffy) to wonderfully, glowingly dark. I've got a major thing for the way she layers the corals and chartreusey yellow over grounds of rich bluish black. And she's also incidentally based in Edinburgh, which holds a dear place in my heart! Check out more of her work at the link following our great Q&A!
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Hi Amy! Tell me about yourself! Where are you from, and where are you based now?
I grew up in a rural part of Scotland in Dumfriesshire, a beautiful part of the country that shaped my understanding and appreciation for nature. I moved to Edinburgh in 2001 where I went to the Edinburgh College of Art and graduated in 2005. Since then I have lived in many different places but I am now based in Glasgow, a fantastically vibrant city that is constantly interesting and is beginning to inform my work.
What first interested you in making art, or in painting specifically?
As I child I was always creative, making things, painting pictures, drawing, writing, and so I knew early on I wanted to do something in the arts. Going to art college felt like the most natural and obvious thing to do. I chose to do Sculpture as my degree, which I very much enjoyed at the time, but I quickly realised after I graduated that painting was really my true passion and where my strengths lay.
Can you tell me a bit about your process? Do you work mostly intuitively, or how much do you plan a piece before you begin working on it?
My paintings are a response to the world around me in particular the interrelations between humans and nature in urban and rural environments. I am fascinated by man's relationship to nature, our disconnection to it and our desire to reconnect. I explore all this through my own emotions and feelings that accompany everyday life. I "observe" and "research" on a daily basis and bring this back to the studio. I paint with a mixture of conscious forms from what I have observed, and intuitive gestures based on memory and feeling. I don't plan a piece too much, I do paint with an intent, a running theme or idea that I am exploring, but I will let the piece evolve and the end result is often very different to it's origins. This is what keeps the work exciting to me. I work on a number of pieces throughout the day, chopping and changing between them. I like how one piece informs the other and there can be a dialog between the works.
Do you have any particularly strong influences, or teachers or mentors, who have impacted your practice?
I have been very influenced by a couple of solo exhibitions I went to both at Inverlieth House art gallery in Edinburgh. The first was the abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell, who's freedom of expression on a large scale was incredible to see. The second was the contemporary painter Victoria Morton, who's work I am fascinated by. The paintings in those shows have stayed with me a long time.
What is your favorite thing about your medium?
I love the physicality of paint and painting, oil paint in particular, how it moves, it's buttery texture, how the colours clash and mix, how I can manipulate it to be thin and watery or a thick impasto. I love the physical act of mark making, it is both challenging and soothing. I am never bored of it!
Describe your studio! How much time do you typically spend there?
I recently moved studio to a new studio in a complex of artists in Glasgow. It is a great size but is very different to my last studio in that is is much more communal and semi-open plan, which is something I am getting used to. I go in Mondays to Fridays, I like working to a fairly structured week, I think it's important to have as much time to develop my work as possible and that means lots of studio time.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle or hurdle you face as an artist?
Myself! It is only me that holds me back. I could say financial pressures and all the usual stresses of modern life, but I do think you make your own luck and if you stay focused and work hard you can achieve anything.
What do think you need most to achieve whatever "success" means to you?
"Success" to me is being able to do what you want to do in life irrespective of financial earnings and being able to appreciate life itself. So the most important thing to be able to achieve this for me is time, I guess, time to paint, develop my work and push myself further as an artist.
What do you think is the most exciting part about doing what you do?
I guess it's the unknown, how working on a painting evolves and changes, I never know where it might take me. Also the endless possibilities, creating art for me enhances my experience of life and challenges me to look at the world in a different way, it is never boring!
Do you have any additional projects or upcoming exhibitions you're currently working on?
I am showing as part of a group show at Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh this December.
Find more at amywinstanley.com!
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