Hi, I’m Michael, and welcome to Let’s Talk Process, Issue No. 7! Thanks so much for joining me for the latest issue of my artist interview series. You can read more about me here.
My goal for this series is to dig deeper and explore how various creative people specifically approach their daily work. With that in mind, the questions for Let’s Talk Process center around the unique creative processes of artists & authors, how and when they work, routines, and inspirations.
This issue, I’m excited to have painter Kirsten Sneath as my guest!
Hi Kirsten! To start, tell us a little about yourself and your art.
Hi Michael! I am a painter from England, now living on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, USA. My main medium is acrylic, but I do like to use watercolors and colored pencils too. My art is very much animal based…the cuter the better! I have painted many pet portraits as gifts and commissions. When I don’t have a pet to paint, I like to find a cute animal or bird to paint instead. I take a lot of photographs and like to use many of them as inspiration for my paintings. One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to create little detailed illustrations, with ink and watercolor, many featuring our pet guinea pig, Cutie. They are so fun to do and seem to make people smile!
Describe your creative schedule. When do you work on art? What does your normal daily routine look like?
I guess I do have a bit of a schedule. I send my kids off to school in the morning, walk my dog, Tinker, then do a little computer work or social media interaction while enjoying a peaceful cup of tea. After that I will try to get started on painting, but I have to be in the right mood. I love it when creativity takes hold and you get lost in it! You know it’s a great painting day when your tea goes cold or you forget to eat lunch. At weekends I generally don’t paint at all, as I want to spend time with my family.
Do you think there are certain times of day that are more conducive to your creativity?
I think late morning/early afternoon is usually best for me. I like to get all my housework done first so I can focus on my painting, although sometimes, if I’m so into my painting, chores definitely get forgotten! Occasionally, if my kids are chilling after school, I can get so caught up in my work I forget about things like dinnertime!
How much planning goes into your creative process? Do you set self-imposed goals or deadlines along the way?
I don’t really have much of a plan when I paint. If I have a pet portrait commission, I will get it sketched out on the canvas as soon as I receive the photograph. Then I will block in the base colors and the background color. Details are my favorite part, and I like to take my time with them. I don’t use any kind of measurement or grid; I just paint by eye. I try and make sure my sketch is right before I add any paint, though. However, acrylic is pretty forgiving if I go wrong!
Do you have any particular rituals, locations, and/or favorite tools that are necessary for your creative process?
I guess a giant mug of tea is my ritual! I love my tea! I have my “studio” set up on my dining table…although it has not been a dining table for several years now. I have my favorite fine detail brushes that I use for fur and the tiny details. When I first started out, I used big canvases and an easel, but after a while I found they took too long to finish. I much prefer the smaller canvases, and I paint holding the canvas in my hand or flat on the table. It also means I can paint more often and explore more subjects and styles.
Does social media help or hurt your creative process? In what ways?
I remember when I first started sharing my artwork, I was so clueless as to what I was doing! Joining Twitter was a big deal! It took a while to get into the swing of it but I soon found out how many lovely and talented people there are in the world! I am so lucky to have found, and be part of, such a great and inspiring community of artists and friends. The comments, feedback and advice I have received over the years mean so much to me. These friends are the reason I was able to self-publish my own book featuring my Cutie illustrations. I will always be very grateful to them!
When you have a creative block or lull in your process, what are some things that help you get back on track?
A walk down by the sea has been a really good way for me to get back on track. I love being so close to the water. Music is another way for me to get inspired. Coldplay never fail to jump start my creativity! Taking my camera out and about helps me to find subjects for painting. Photographing flowers, the sea, birds and animals in my new surroundings have been a great way to inspire creativity! Seeing other people’s artwork is also a great boost, as well as chatting with fellow artists and friends, who have very often provided me with inspiration and ideas for my next piece. Drawing Cutie the Guinea Pig doing something fun, sketching, or painting watercolor is another good way to get me back in the creative frame of mind; they are so quick and easy to pick up and put down.
When is a piece of art “finished”? How do you know?
If the painting is a commission, I will compare it with the reference photo using my phone camera. I will go back and forth for a bit, but I always get to a point I can’t possibly do anymore. I find it a bit stressful sometimes! If I am close to finished, I try to keep going until it is done, sometimes not noticing it getting dark around me! When I am just painting for myself the pressure is not there, so I just set down tools as soon I think it looks good to me!
A big thank you to Kirsten Sneath for being a part of Let’s Talk Process!
Where to find Kirsten and her work:
Fine Art America/Pixels www.pixels.com/profiles/kirsten-sneath
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