Tulips (Detail), Sigrid Muller, 2015
Published: 11 December 2015
Tell us briefly about your practice, how would you describe your artwork?
It is always a challenge for me to put into words what I do instinctively. My work is purely emotional, something grabs my attention - then I just want the painting to exist. My subjects are all from nature, mostly flowers and fruit. Each painting is carefully planned, so depending on the size, it can take weeks or even months to complete. The background is watercolour and the drawing is built up with many layers of pencil crayons - so the colour is not solid, but luminous. I like the contrast and tension between the more energetic markmaking and freedom of the watercolour background with the calm and more considered drawing. The background is as important as the subjects themselves - it provides an imagined space where they can live - suspended with nothing to hold onto or existing on seemingly firm ground.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Germany in 1962, the youngest of six. As a child growing up in a village I had a lot of freedom roaming the countryside. I studied graphic design and trained as an illustrator. Nearly twenty years ago I moved to Wales and started to paint full time. I was fortunate to be able to show my work in Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff and have had several solo exhibitions there over the years.
What attracts you to paint the particular things that you do? They seem very tactile, it gives the objects almost a sculptural quality to them.
In Germany I drew portraits in black and white. When I came to Wales I started drawing flowers - in colour... Perhaps they could be described as portraits of flowers, I used to think of them as having different characteristics - some were extrovert, some shy, and some quite menacing. Looking back, I can see that I expressed my insecurity about living in a foreign country by drawing tightly closed flower buds. I am happy to say they have opened over the years. I suppose all artists paint their own state of mind in some way. It is true to say that the closer you look, the more you see. I don’t quite know myself why I choose one particular thing over another - it will just have something about it which stops me in my tracks and in fact gives me a feeling of pure joy. It could be the colour, the light, the shape - but when I see it, I feel it, and then I want to draw it. As I make the detailed drawing I am pouring in the delight I felt in the discovery. I hope to go beyond the mere representation of the object. If I have held something in my hand I want to convey the weight of it, the texture, the sensual experience. e.g. the brown, papery casing of a daffodil bud, the frost damage on the surface of a plum or the way the stem of a tulip changes into the petal... I want my paintings to hold these feelings.
What are you developing at the moment?
Over the years I have had different preoccupations - movement, relationships, shadows, the way the light falls on the object or shines through it. At the moment I am interested in seeds and seedpods, repetition and pattern. What I find fascinating about seeds is that they are powerhouses, biding their time, waiting for the right causes and conditions to come together. Then they spring to life and do the best they can, without question. I was lucky enough to win second prize in the Jerwood Drawing Prize Competition 2014 for Seed Pods. I found the seed pods by the side of the road. They are quite small, about 3cm to 5cm long and maybe generally overlooked. I wanted to give them centre stage.
Seed Pods, 2014
How much time do you spend in the studio, (if you have a studio?) Do you have a strict routine?
Yes, I have a workroom at home, it is rather small but has the best light in the house. I have hundreds of crayons and sharpeners. The whole spectrum is organised in different drawers of warm, cool and neutral colours. I try to work six to eight hours a day, including the weekend if there is a deadline to meet. During the winter months when it gets dark so early I depend on a daylight lamp.
Who working at the moment do you admire?
One of my favourite artists is Horst Janssen, from Germany who died twenty years ago. As for contemporary artists I very much like Sarah Ball, Eleri Mills, David Brayne and Jennifer McRae.
A few months ago I started to post paintings on Instagram and have discovered some very inspiring artists from all over the world, including Jackie Case from Australia.
What have you got coming up?
I am exhibiting regularly at Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff. I had an exhibition in the spring this year and at the moment I am looking, gathering, accumulating - a time of gestation.
Published 11 December 2015
Welsh Poppy, 2011