Louise Fletcher is ‘World Famous on ArterNet Art’ — our Featured Guest Artist
Oh happy days — when the vibrant Louise Fletcher agreed to chat with us today on
Louise is an abstract painter based in North Yorkshire in the UK and she’s one heck of a happy artist to boot!
Her multi-layered mixed media work is inspired by her personal connection with the landscape around her home. Her work explores the connection between inner and outer experience. She is interested not just in what we see around us, but what we experience — the sensations, the feelings, the memories and our sense of history.
Louise works intuitively, building her paintings in layers, adding and then removing paint, collage and mixed media to create deep textured surfaces that resonate with meaning.
ArterNet Art: The culture of our company — ArterNet Art — is to put a human face to all our members and featured guest artists.
We feel it’s very important for artist members of ArterNet Art (ANA) to meet established and inspiring artists, in order to learn more about how they became the artist we see today.
What were their challenges, their ideals, their twists and turns, etc. This is why we love these interview chats and why they are proving to be so popular.
ArterNet Art: Hi Louise, it’s great to have you here with us today. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.
First of all can you give our readers an idea of your route to becoming an artist?
Louise: I drew and painted from a very young age but, like many people, I was discouraged from pursuing art as a career. It didn’t even seem possible for someone from my background, so I had a corporate carer for many years.
I left my home in the UK and worked in Canada (Toronto) and then in the US (New York). Every now and then I would take a class or do some sketching, but nothing really stuck until I moved home to England in 2012. The landscape of Yorkshire inspired me immediately and I began to paint seriously.
I took classes and found mentors and worked at my art every spare moment. In 2018, I started teaching online classes and was able to go full-time as an artist in 2019.
ArterNet Art: WOW…Louise that is very impressive. Have you had to overcome any difficulties or major hurdles on your journey to becoming the successful, established artist we see today?
Louise: I think confidence is the main hurdle we all face. I simply didn’t believe I had it in me. People would say “find your own voice” and I would wonder “what does that even mean?
How do I do that?” I genuinely believed I didn’t have a voice. Now I know that we find our voice through painting (a lot) and through trusting ourselves and honouring our own preferences.
It’s a moment by moment thing — “I like that kind of brush — and I like this colour — but not that one — and I like wooden boards not canvas”… each time we choose, we get a little closer to who we are.
ArterNet Art: Great advice. What or who were your early influences?
Louise: I love work that is emotional rather than intellectual. I want to feel the artist in the work.
Initially I was inspired by neo-romantic painters like David Tress and John Piper. I also love Joan Eardley’s landscapes. As I became more fascinated by abstract art, I fell in love with the American abstract expressionists. I am particularly inspired by Pollock’s action painting — the idea that the whole body is employed in creating the art. But I also love Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and more recently I have become interested in Cy Twombly.
And from the point of view of what it means to be an artist, I have always loved and admired Tracey Emin — I have so much respect for her single-minded dedication to her art and for her belief in herself, but I also love how she imbues everything with raw and honest emotion.
ArterNet Art: So true. Tell us about the medium you have chosen to work with and what was it that attracted you to use it?
Louise: I work in acrylics because I love the fast drying time and the flexibility — I can lay it on in thick luscious globs or I can water it down and let it flow and blend. I also use a lot of collage as I’m interested in the layers of life — the things that are unseen and unsaid and the hidden connections between things.
Collage helps me to tell that story. I also mix in oil pastels, charcoal, pencils and really anything that takes my fancy.
ArterNet Art: Do you have a daily routine? Has it always been this way and can you tell our readers how your day looks?
Louise: My days vary greatly — I run a membership site for artists and I develop and teach online courses, so I spend time on those things. I also post regularly on social media and create videos for YouTube, so time is spent on that.
Some days are admin days — accounting or packaging paintings for shipment — and then some days are studio days. My studio days also vary and I follow what feels good — I might work in sketchbooks or on some large paintings, or I might just play on some cheap sheets of paper … I go with what I feel and it seems to work for me.
ArterNet Art: Can you share some techniques and insights into your process from conception to creation
Louise: I work intuitively, building up layers and responding to what is happening on the surface of the painting. This means I never have any idea of how the finished piece will look. I use collage, mixed media, drawing materials and paint and to build up an interesting surface but I also do a lot of subtraction. Often this means sanding back or scraping to reveal prior layers; sometimes it means removing paint while it’s still partially wet using water or rubbing alcohol.
I like the push and pull of adding and removing paint and the surprises that occur in the process. At some point, if I stay intuitive and keep my thinking mind out of the process, something happens that tells me what the painting is about. This can happen quite quickly or it can take some time. But once it does happen, I must balance intuition with thoughtful use of tone and and colour and marks until the painting feels satisfying. The only way I can describe this is that I get to a point where I feel everything is just right and nothing feels out of place.
The painting tells the story I want to tell. It is finished.
ArterNet Art: How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
Louise: Initially I thought I wanted to paint the landscape that I love so much. Around my home are steep green valleys and wild moorlands and huge skies that seem to change minute by minute. I started out painting representationally to try and capture that. But over time I realised that the landscape itself wasn’t the inspiration, it was the way I felt in the landscape and the way I felt about it … and to express that, I would need to leave representation behind.
So over the years, my work has become less and less about what I see and more about what I feel. I now combine inner and outer landscapes — which is how I believe we all experience landscape anyway. We never experience a place only with our eyes — we smell and we hear and we touch — but we also carry with us our past history in that place and our concerns and troubles and hopes and dreams.
Representational painting can’t express all of that — I’m not even sure I have ever done it in abstract form, but I enjoy the challenge of trying.
ArterNet Art: Is there anything in particular that inspires you to create art?
Louise: The inspiration comes from inside me — painting is my favourite thing to do. I am burning with ideas and inspiration all the time. All I need is a spare 30 minutes and some paint and I’m off!
ArterNet Art: What has been your favourite or most memorable art sale?
Louise: I bet everyone says this, but it was my first one. I had two paintings in a group show in the local town hall. I visited the show after a few days and nearly fell over when I saw a red dot on one of the paintings. I immediately rang everyone I knew to see if they had bought the painting — I was thrilled when they all said no. I’d still love to know who is the stranger who chose my painting that day.
ArterNet Art: How have you and your art business been impacted by Covid-19? Has much changed since that time?
Louise: I found that people were more interested in buying art when the pandemic hit — perhaps it’s because we were all stuck in our homes and realised that they needed sprucing up. I think it’s also because people weren’t able to spend money on holidays or meals out, but art was a way of treating themselves.
The lockdowns also had a very positive impact on the courses I teach — many artists were stuck at home and grateful for the opportunity to connect with other artists and learn online. I have always believed online courses to be superior to in-person classes, and the pandemic helped other people to experience the power of this way of learning.
ArterNet Art: Going back to when you first started out and knowing what you know now, what would you do differently and what advice would you give to an aspiring new artist?
Louise: If I could start again, I would have made art my career from the beginning. I wish I had understood that it’s perfectly possible to build a lucrative career as an artist. I wish I had given my life over to it.
To anyone starting out, I say make your work as good as it can be. Too many beginning artists are focused on selling, even before they have a distinct voice, and even before their work is really ready for prime time. Don’t be in a rush for the validation of sales — instead learn to thrive on internal validation.
Make the work everything… pursue your ideas and learn your craft and take pride and pleasure when you make things you love. When you get to the stage where you regularly make things you love, then it’s time to go out and share your work with the world because if you think it’s exciting, there are others who will too.
ArterNet Art: Well said, Louise. Also for our new artists, can you share some tips on how you marketed yourself, when you first started out. What are one or two things you tried that worked amazingly well?
Louise: I don’t think it’s any one thing — I think that marketing ourselves as artists is a long game. We build a reputation slowly over time. Some people choose to do that by showing at local exhibitions or art fairs. Some do it by getting into galleries.
I chose to do it by building up a following online. I built a following on Instagram and Facebook slowly, bit by bit, by posting regularly and trying to be interesting. I wrote a blog and I started a weekly newsletter which still goes out every Sunday. After a while, I also started making YouTube videos.
For a while, I invested any profits back into my business and did a little advertising on Facebook (I had a non-art job that paid the bills, so I was able to do this).
At first none of it resulted in sales but over time, that started to happen. My last two collections sold out almost immediately — but that wasn’t how it was 4 years ago.
ArterNet Art: What plans and goals do you have for the future, both creatively and personally? Then ultimately, if all the stars aligned, what do you see as your end game? ( I know, most people get taken aback when they are confronted with this question, but I believe it’s one we should all think about at some stage)
Louise: My goals are all about improving my art. I want to make amazing paintings. I have no idea how that will look or what it will mean — I just want to put in the work to get better and better.
ArterNet Art: Tell us about any hobbies you may have, sports or interests other than art?
Louise: Painting is my first love — it’s my true passion, so I generally resent things that take me away from it. This is why I don’t really have hobbies. But I do enjoy walking with my dog out in the landscape that inspires me.
Nature is an endless source of joy for me.
ArterNet Art: Do you have any quotes you live by or practice daily?
Louise: I love this quote by the writer Ray Bradbury:
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
I love it because I too feel trying is the enemy of creativity. We must let go of any attachment to achieving a result — when we do that, the result comes quite naturally.
ArterNet Art: Well, Louise it’s been such a pleasure to learn about you and your art practice. Thank you so much — I know our artist members and other artists will be inspired and will take your words of wisdom into their daily art practice also.
You can find out more about Louise, her art, her art classes and follow her here:
My artist community: https://www.louisefletcherart.com/art-tribe
Louise’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf1EvUAo_iRJedkrbQNEB_A
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