Check out these stunning abstract paintings on relief-carved wood by Annekatrin Lemke! Trained as a master woodcarver and inspired by the three-dimensional form, she has been long-inspired by painters as well, and combines gorgeous textural surfaces with a palette that is at turns bright and subdued. More at the links after our great interview!
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First, tell me a bit about yourself! What has your art education been like (formally or informally) so far?
I had an artistic and crafty education in wood sculpture and received a master craftsman degree. I studied some semesters of wood design at the Academy of Applied Art in Schneeberg, too. But while studying I decided that the artistic way fits much better, so I decided to work as a freelance artist. Besides that, I lecture some sculpting workshops and teach future master wood-carvers.
Your educational background centers on wood sculpture -- what first interested you in that art form?
I've liked drawing and painting since childhood, and in my youth I did an internship with a sculptor who often works with wood. I was so thrilled by the three-dimensional aspect, as well as by the special quality of this natural material. I also did some practice with clay and stone, and sometimes I work with metal and enamel today as well, but wood is really the thing I love to work with! I love the specific materiality, the resistance of this material, and the scent of it.
When or how did you begin to incorporate painting into your work?
The final piece I did to complete my master craftsman education was totally naturalistic and without any colour - only the wooden surface with different structures. After completing this work, a portrait of a girl, I decided to work more abstract and to use colours. This was in 2012 and it felt like concluding a phase. I became more and more influenced by artists I admire, mostly painters, like Agnes Martin or Etel Adnan.
Your paintings strike me as almost equal part painting and relief sculpture, which you carve in wood. Can you tell me more about your practice?
Yes, first of all I make a sketch based on photographs I made or found and which inspired me to create an artwork. Then I transfer the sketch on the wood, mostly limewood, and start carving. After finishing the three-dimensional work, I paint the wooden relief with acrylic paint, sometimes combined with photo collage and spray paint.
I like the combination of surface and structure, dividing and connecting areas, connecting and affecting and in-between parts and the question of what belongs together and what influences each other.
Color is also very important in your work, especially in the textures and forms you create in the surface. What is your process like? How do you start and progress through a piece?
The sketch is always graphite on paper. From there I decide which areas have to be carved and how. Then I make an initial selection of colours, but the final decision about the colours is made when the surface of the wooden relief is finished.
Do you plan your pieces ahead, or work more intuitively? Do you do any research of any kind in preparing or thinking about your work?
I plan my pieces quite accurate before starting to work. I have a great amount of photographs which work as inspiration. I am looking for things and situations to be photographed wherever I am, and I am also inspired by photographs other people made. Photos are always the starting point of a new artwork.
What is your studio or workspace like?
My studio is part of the house we are living in, and that's useful for a mother of 2! But I am planning to work on larger formats in the future, so the small workspace at home has to be replaced someday...
Do you have a tool or an object in the studio that you couldn't live without?
My workbench and the carving tools (there are many), as well as the colours, brushes, and cans.
What do you consider the most challenging part of pursuing your practice, whether creatively or professionally?
Oh, I love to work at the studio. There, I forget how time flies. So the professional part is the most challenging.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Perhaps that one should never get discouraged by failures.
What are you working on right now?
Of course on a new wooden relief!
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you very much! I am very glad to be featured on your site.
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