In The Artist’s Studio with Lucinda Brown
June 1, 2012 in In The Artists Studio
We caught up with Lucinda Brown to discuss her work, career, what’s going on at her gallery and a whole lot more! She’s a truly inspirational character and someone we really love working with here at Curator…
What or who first motivated you to start creating art?
This began at an early age when I used to watch my Mum paint pictures in oils and draw cartoons. Drawing came naturally to me but it was my goal to learn to make everything – beginning with dressmaking, hats and finally sculpture – with everything in between.
Do you feel that you were born with a certain artistic talent that you nurtured over time, or do you believe that most people can turn their hand to art in one way or another, given enough training and practice?
Everyone is born with the same potential, how they develop it is a matter of choice. Training helps but living is the best! Whatever you practice you will get good at.
Did you receive a formal education in art, and if so to what level?
Being involved with the business of bringing up my son alone meant that education took a back seat until fairly recently. I began studying for my degree in 3D design ceramics at the University of Wolverhampton in 1994/5 and graduated with honors in 1998.
How important do you feel art education is in developing a career in the creative industries, either as a fine artist or elsewhere?
Raw talent will get you quite far and lucky breaks a little further or all the way, depending on innovation and whether you are willing to exploit current trends. Education helps in many ways, not only by opening up new pathways of thought, leading to new directions but also by opening doors to established galleries and professional bodies.
Can you tell us a little bit about what your early ideas and work were like back at school and at degree level? Do you look back at this time with fondness or foolishness?
Early school days were harsh and I avoided most of it by signing in then disappearing up into the attic to read books all day. It was a tall Victorian building with many interesting little nooks and crannies. I was safe because everyone thought the attic was haunted! I really loved my time at University, I was almost the oldest so took on a kind of support role for many of the younger students. My toolbox was an all you can eat buffet for the needy!
Was there a specific point in time in which you realised that you had developed a distinctive style that you could call your own? How much hard work did that take to achieve? And how do you now define your style of work?
A wise man once said: ‘Find something you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ I love what I do and it was a natural process of discovery to bring my ideas to life with skills I learned at University. Learning how to work with the clay and when was the main issue. Once you’ve got your head around timing, it all falls into place. My style is figurative with a contemporary twist (pardon the pun).
How important is diversity of style to you? Is it important to maintain constant progression and agility as an artist? What happens if you stay still for long?
Change is inevitable (except from a vending machine!) No seriously? You cannot stand still, all is progression once you have perfected or are indeed satisfied with a piece of art is is time to move on.
What artists have you looked to for inspiration, either historically or current? How much have their ideas and style influenced your work?
So many! Alphonse Mucha was probably the first that I loved when I saw his work at the age of 14. I love the Pre Raphaelites and the classical artists, Michaelangelo, Leonardo. There are a few modern artists who inspire me and I love to visit exhibitions to get inspiration.
Can you tell us a little about your studio and working environment? Do you have a specific place in which you work, a home studio, a dedicated external studio, a managed studio, something extravagant…?
My studio is part of the gallery. One third to be exact. The space is so well organised, people find it difficult to believe that I produce anything! I have an old kiln, old faithful, I have tried twice now to include another but both have been dogs, I give up now! I have the opportunity to expand the space into the main courtyard, exciting and challenging but I think it will be amazing.
How important is a structured workflow to you? Do you create spontaneously, or is it a more methodical process than that?
Once I’m in the studio I am very method oriented. I have production lines, it sounds mechanical but to produce just one piece at a time would result in the cost being prohibitive. There are of course pieces that you cannot work on like that, my one off sculptures are just that. I can spend up to 3 months working on one of those. But the fragments collection I have to make in batches. It can take about two weeks to fill a kiln but at the end of the process I have around 24 pieces to sell.
Are there any particular techniques that you use to maintain focus and high productivity?
Daily meditation and a need to feed!
Would you agree that having a good idea is just 1% of the task, the other 99% is just plain hard work?
If I looked upon what I do as ‘hard work’ I wouldn’t bother doing it. Everything is about enjoyment, if you don’t enjoy it there is no point. Especially as an artist. So all the processes become enjoyable. If there is something that you dislike and cannot change about what you do, change the attitude.
Is it difficult to separate your life and work at times? Have you developed techniques that help you address the balance between the two, or do you find yourself thinking about your artwork all the time?
I think the creative mind works that way constantly, you are always in the process of creation not destruction. We create with our thoughts just as if we were creating with our hands, it just takes longer to manifest. Sometimes its almost instant. In fact as we think about what we want it’s created in the ‘universe’ for us. But, if it were to suddenly appear it would throw us and everyone else into confusion, so? It’s a gentle process. Keep thinking about what you want and one day it will appear, the reason it doesn’t for most is that we have opposing thoughts and this blocks the manifestation.
How successful an artist do you see yourself? Does it give you pride to know that you are successful in creating artwork professionally and living off the proceeds?
No matter what I have produced since I was 14, it has always sold. From life-size drawings of fashion models in the sixties, to clothing, to hats, to pizzas, and now to clay. Since I have focused on ceramics my work has sold in many other galleries both at home and abroad. I am so proud of the way my own gallery has evolved from a working studio into such a successful and lovely place to be. But this is not just down to me, this is due to all the amazing people/artists I’ve met and made friends with since I came here 10 years ago.
How do you know when a piece is finished? Do you ever find yourself overworking something? Is finishing something you find easy or difficult? Do you ever procrastinate from finishing?
This is something I did learn from my time at University – when to stand back. And stop, I used to want perfection in everything (as a dressmaker this is definitely a plus) but leaving something to the imagination is essential to art. It has to engage the viewer and they take something from it with them whether or not they purchase.
Do you ever return to a piece later on to make adjustments having developed an idea elsewhere?
This the standing back bit, you have to go away and leave it alone for a while. The portrait sculptures require a lot of this, using 2 dimensional images to translate into a 3 dimensional art form you have to keep standing away or even taking photographs of the piece. This can reveal discrepancies between the subject and the clay that you were too close to observe previously.
Where do you look to for inspiration outside of the art world?
Myself, my inner consciousness, the eternal being of light that I am and that connects me to everyone and everything. All the inspiration I could ever want is there for the asking.
Do you actively seek feedback from your friends, family, or viewers of your work? If so, is it important to take that feedback on board and use it to develop or change direction?
It comes, I don’t seek it and most of the time it’s positive. When constructive criticism is offered I accept the gift with grace and try to improve whatever has disturbed the viewer.
When you’re struggling with a piece, stuck for an idea, or disappointed with how something is progressing – how do you motivate yourself to do better, to get going again, or just to get out of bed?
I just do something else and don’t stress, when the timing is right it all falls into place. Trust is a huge word in my vocabulary, very important to trust the process.
Away from the studio, can you tell us a little about Lucinda Brown? Who is the artist behind the brush, what do you do to relax, and what things are important in your life beside art?
I have passion for life in general. I meditate, see my friends, cook food, love to laugh and joke. Did I mention dancing? and music! I listen to a lot of latin lounge, jazz, deep house and everything in between. I used to be in an African dance team, we did performances and practices twice a week. I enjoy nature and where I live is the perfect place to observe and enjoy. I like photography and cosmology, love to look at the stars. Like sci-fi, and anything that captures my imagination. I LOVE LIFE!