Updated: Mar 8
‘Artists can heighten everything’
Liz Gridley is based in Melbourne, Australia. This self-proclaimed ‘Art Nerd’ is easily recognised by her long green tresses, and chose the amazing Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, as the backdrop for her recent wedding. Introduced to life drawing in her teens, Liz’s focus is predominantly figurative oil painting. A love for intense colour, light and emotions is evident in her studio practice, which she generously shares with others via her YouTube channel.
Studio life can be isolating, how do you cope with this?
I’m definitely an ambivert, I need my time alone and my social time in equal measure. When I was studying at Monash University I really enjoyed that my studio was in a corner, it became a spot for everyone to group together and hangout whilst working simultaneously on pieces and projects. In 2016 when I moved to Paynesville in country Victoria with my partner, this style of open studio – with the capacity to work together and separately, bounce ideas off each other and chat to even non-artists was missing, and I felt like it not only affected me but also me work in a negative way – I was slower, got stuck more often and very easily distracted/procrastine-y. So, ever since moving back to Melbourne I’ve tried my best to incorporate a couch/second sitting/lounging/craft table space into my studio so others can come over and hangout. It’s made a huge difference and I love balancing this social time with being a night-owl and working late when the world is quiet and I can focus.
What are the best and least favourite parts of your creative process?
I love that part about 1 week after finishing a piece, when I can look at it and stop analysing and really enjoy a piece, and think ‘shit I made that’.
Least favourite is that first third of making something where my brain hates the ‘ugly’ stage
Do you have a personal mantra or quote which serves to motivate you?
I have many! Most are circulating as my desktop background on my computer so when I turn it on I get hit with some serious motivation at the start of the day – one of my faves is: ‘life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful’ or create something today, even if it sucks’
How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes?
My painting style has usually involved high chroma, intense colour – it has definitely evolved as I have learnt more about realism and traditional painting style through workshops with Robin Eley, David Kassan and Shana Levenson, as well as on-line videos like those on YouTube by Caesar Santos. I wouldn’t say I have a solid ‘style’ but I do think my works have my own voice – as in I think you can tell what works are mine- they still constantly shift and move as I play with materials. I have worked in an art supply store over the last 10 years so it’s constantly tempting to pick up a new tube/brush shape and experiment with new things!
Nature versus nurture: do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions?
My parents are an accountant and a former bank worker – so not sure about the ‘inherited
abilities” part. However I definitely think my parents and my family culture of ‘nuture creativity’ or even just saying ‘yes’ as I grew up had a HUGE impact. Both my sisters and I have creative outlets that we have turned into our jobs – we were lucky to be able to try various outlets growing up (after school programs, different materials and social groups, sports and even music : yes I feel guilty for giving up on playing the saxophone but honestly I was awful). I will forever be thankful and appreciative of being able to experience so much as I grew, and finding mediums I am passionate about.
What do you hope to convey through your work?
Feeling. Almost all of my work depends on it – I need to feel something in my gut, like an ‘active emotion’ that I want to capture and pass on to my viewer. The feeling can come from the subject, the reference or even the surface I’m painting on but it is absolutely essential. The pieces I have in my past that I really dislike often are the ones that completely lack ‘feeling’ and so they are flat or unimaginative. A huge thing to have learnt over the years.
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