An interview with artist June Russell

work by June Russell

What form of art or media do you work with?

I use quite a wide range of media. I paint in acrylic and oils, and use pastel and graphic media as well as print processes. In recent years, I’d describe myself as a printmaker, rather than a painter. As a printmaker I’m always learning and employing new techniques, although etching and reduction lino print are favourites. I’ve always been interested in printmaking, since I was young. I learned etching and lino printing at art college in the early seventies, when British printmaking was making a real stir, but I took it up as a major art form rather than a sideline in the late 90′s when I studied for my Masters degree.

Can you describe your studio/work space.

I have had a rented studio since 1996, at one place or another. I can’t work at home although there’s plenty of room, because I’m too easily distracted by domestic stuff. Until now, my studios have comprised of a basic 4 x4 m space (with or without sink) and I’ve relied on open access studios for print facilities, but In February I’ll be moving into a new studio at South Square in Bradford, which has been fitted out as an intaglio print studio and will have 2 presses and all the equipment I need to be the complete printmaker. I’m very excited about this!

I tend to keep my workspace very organised, although when I work I fling things about rather, so there’s a lot of surface mess.

Please give a brief description of your creation process and technique.

My work starts with drawing – either from life, or from imagination/synthesis. I collect drawings and store them for years, taking them out and thinking about them from time to time. Eventually I’ll use them as ‘evidence’ to mix with my memory of a place and create a painting or print. Most of my work is landscape-based. I’m interested in places; how they are created by, inhabited by or perceived by the people who live in them, particularly over time. I hope, by choosing unconventional subjects and/or treatments, to make people think again about what constitutes ‘beauty’ in a location.

I aim to make work that has what I’d call ‘stamina’ – that is, work that people will find continues to interest and absorb for more than a quick glance.

view north sm by June Russell
What are you working on at the moment?

I’m making some very tiny prints at the moment, for various shows, including the International Miniprint Exhibition 2012. I’m also starting to use old prints as ‘material’ for new work in various ways, such as books and 3D structures. I don’t know where this will go.

How do you know when a work is complete?

I can’t say how I know, but I very definitely do know, even when ‘complete’ is really early in the process. Many people I talk to say that knowing when to stop is a real problem for them; it isn’t for me (I have other problems, to compensate – I’m incredibly finicky about physical ‘finish’, for example, and will reject prints with flaws that other people can’t even see)

Shorelinesm by June Russell

Do you listen to music when you are working, or the radio, or work in silence?

I like absolute silence when I’m working on the creative part of making. – drawing, composing & designing. Once I get in to a process – editioning prints, for example -I can listen to music, or talk radio. But really, I can take it or leave it. Silence is best.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Ascent of Man by J. Bronowski

What is your favourite artwork by another artist?

The Jack Pine by Tom Thomson (Actually, this is an impossible question, but this is the first artwork that came into my head and it’s one I have loved consistently for many years and have just seen ‘in the flesh’ at last)

Please complete the following sentences in whatever way is meaningful to you:

a) Artists should please themselves what path they take with their work but delight in the appreciation of others whenever and wherever it comes.  
b) Art, like language, is what makes us human   
c) The World is on loan to each of us for a shorter time than we think.  

What is the worst thing someone has said about your work?

‘Very nice – but it’s all just scenes, isn’t it?’

Who is your favourite German Expressionist painter?

Emile Nolde  (plus printmaker Kathe Kollwitz)

Thank you June

Junes blog can be found here . And further details of the artist and her work can be found here.

 

Crescent 4sm by June Russell

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