Heidi Clawson is an extremely talented abstract artist who specialises in landscape painting. We spoke to Heidi to find out more about her artistic process and her thoughts and methods behind creating some of her scenic masterpieces.
You must see so many beautiful landscapes you want to put into a painting, How do you plan the artwork you’re going to create?
"Yes, I do and it’s hard to try and capture all the beautiful scenes! I take lots of photographs but they never really do the colours justice. I also try and do some quick sketches to get shapes and help with the composition. There is an element of artistic manipulation in my paintings too."
Do you paint from memory or photos?
"A bit of both really! I have a huge collection of photos to work from (friends and family now also send me gorgeous photos of landscapes seascapes and cloud forms for me to use) I often use these to get a feel for the placement of colours and shapes in the landscape or seascape then I work from memory to create a feeling or mood instead of an actual representation of the view."
Can you take us through your artistic process?
"I like to work fairly fast and loose with my paint. I also try to use other mediums to help build up the layers of colour and add more interest and texture. Oil pastels, inks, coloured pencils, chino-graph pencils, charcoal and sometimes even pieces of collage. I use lots of different mark making tools from palette knives and toothbrushes (great for spattering!) to scrapers and my fingers!"
Do you prefer to paint landscapes or seascapes?
"Oh that's a tough one! I guess I’m naturally more drawn to the water so I seem to paint more seascapes than anything else but I love to paint landscapes because there’s so much texture and variety of colours. There always seems to be a lot of blue shades in my work - I think artists are drawn to certain colours more than others."
How did you achieve the beautiful look of the water in your Saltwater Shift piece?
"Blues and greens again! Such a beautiful combination and it never fails to make me feel happy using those shades. My favourite paint colour is a vibrant teal - it’s a very fluid acrylic paint and it blends so well with other shades of blue and green. I build up the areas of colour by blending the different shades together. The colours for this piece included Prussian blue, teal, phthalo turquoise, deep turquoise and phthalo blue."
How long does your work take to create on average?
"It can vary but to be honest, I am a very impatient artist! I would be disappointed if I didn't have a piece finished within a day, sometimes I can paint a few pieces in a day if they are flowing. I’ve always worked quickly – painting with acrylics, they dry fast so I have to blend them quickly. I’ve recently started working with oils again so I get a longer blending time.
I have been taking a little more time though recently- going back to the same piece over a number of days as this builds the layers up further and makes the painting more interesting."
What’s an art tool you can’t live without?
"Kitchen towel! Sounds a bit weird but it is brilliant to move the paint around and blend the colours together. If the paint starts drying too quickly, I add some acrylic flow improver. It sometimes takes off some of the paint which leaves great marks on the paper/canvas. I also love using an old credit card for moving paint around and scratching into the surface and my water spray bottle for drips and splattering effects."
Your artwork is very unique, do you have any artists that have inspired your style?
"So many incredible contemporary artists working today that inspire me but some of my influences include the wonderful Joan Eardley, John Piper, Peter Iden and Turner of course for the atmosphere and moodiness."
What does your current workspace look like? Do you have a studio where you work or is it at one of your homes?
"I used to work at the kitchen table but last year we added a little art hut to the bottom of the garden. It's quite small but perfect for me to work in and make a mess! I painted the wood white to brighten it up. I keep my easel and all of my paints and canvases In there. It's wonderful in the Summer months. I just hear the birds singing, it‘s very quiet. I put on a podcast and I'm often joined by my cat Betty or occasionally one of our 3 rabbits who hop in for a visit!"
Do you have any fun or interesting stories behind any of your pieces?
"This painting is called ‘Cloudburst’ - it’s based on a day we had during a holiday to Norfolk. It’s one of our favourite places. The beaches and skies are so big and beautiful. We were on the beach walking towards Overstrand and it had started as a bright sunny day, sea was shimmering, blue sky and a slight breeze. By the time we started walking back, huge dark storm clouds started rolling in and the sky was tinged with turquoise and yellow shades. The blue sky disappeared and the heavens opened followed by thunder and lightning over the sea. It was fantastic to watch (we got soaked!) This painting was based on the clouds and colours over the sea that afternoon."