1) Who is April White?
I was born in a small town in Southern Ontario, Canada which i
left when i was eighteen to study art at York University in Toronto.
Since then I have lived much of my life out of a backpack; currently
residing in Sydney Australia. My desire to travel has taken me
around the world exploring and observing and my love of line
and a vivid imagination has taken me to far away worlds. I’ve
had a pencil in my hand as far back as i can remember. I am
currently working as a full time artist out of Lennox Street Studios
2) Explain Your Current Body of Work?
I just finished a series of portraits on clay board. Using pencil
and water based paint (gouache and sometimes acrylic) i draw
layers of pencil lines and apply thin layers of paint over top to
add some shape and a bit of colour. Some of the figures have
similarities to my own appearance but they are not specifically
self portraits. I use the figures from my imagination to express a
range of emotion and psychological states. A representation of the
mental reality of the human in the picture is more important to me
than a simple physical rendering. It is very personal work as i have
accessed deep and often dark parts of my psyche; but i believe the
emotional theme is universal.
3) If you can pick one artist as an inspiration and explain why?
Jenny Saville. A contemporary artist working in England.
One of the first exhibitions I saw in the gallery district of Chelsea,
New York was by Jenny Saville and it was the only time that
artwork has triggered an emotional response in me from the
moment i walked in the gallery. It was a series of larger than
life figures, many self-portraits, painted on huge canvases with
multiple layers of huge brush strokes of oil paint. From the
technique to the subject matter it affected me; the way she applies
the paint, many thin and thick layers on top of each other to
create the skin tones; to the way the figures look like they’ve had
some really tortured existence; the way it makes you go deeper
like you’re seeing directly into this human being’s emotional
experience through the physical being. As an a artist I admire the
painting techniques that create an emotional presence, and as
a human I recognise, feel and relate to the wounded-ness of the
characters; their desperation, and their agony.
4) With your own art practice where would you like to be in 10 years?
On a practical level I’d like to be in a bigger studio and be
experimenting with bigger scale artworks because as I do bigger
work, little by little I have ideas that want to occupy bigger space.
I want to go beyond the 2D surface and I want to spread out and
have a space to do that.
I want to be reaching more people with my art and get to talk
to more people as they see it. The response is something I am
getting more out of as people are relating to the work in deeply
emotional ways; so I feel that it is contributing in some way to a
need that exists within people. In a way people feel that they are
allowed to respond to art like this. I am accessing things that are
right on the precipice of existence – this is deeper than what I can
talk about but which I can express in my work. It is my journey with
depression and anxiety; and the art opens up a way of dealing
with that both for me as an artist, but also for the people who view
my work and relate to it in some way. It might start as a personal
journey, but when shown it becomes a conversation had with
others. The art opens up something. I want to be more honest with
my artwork, myself and in sharing the experience with others.
5) How are you finding the current art market?
I’ve just presented my most personal work ever at the last
show and sold more than I expected. I am not connected to a
commercial gallery at present, so am not directly affected by the
market as such. I have built up my own personal following of
people that have connected with the work and continue to come to
shows, and buy at a pace they feel comfortable with according to
their own interests. I am lucky to be in a position where I just go to
my studio and do what I do and manage to get enough sold to fund
the next creative venture. I’ve managed to get by so far, and as
long as the ideas keep coming I am engaged as an artist.
6) Name four things that you cannot do without in the Studio?
Pencils – sometimes a single line can evoke emotion.
Clayboard – which is my new love. Sometimes inspiration comes
from the surface itself, and for me right now that is clayboard.
Water – I can push my technique on clayboard much further with
water. And i drink a lot of water too.
My Vacuum Cleaner – because I am a neurotic obsessive and
need to get up randomly and vacuum until the air feels clear.
7) Is social media a help or a hinder for the arts and what are you thoughts?
Yes social media has been very helpful for me. People can see
artwork through postings by artists themselves or blog postings
by others that they otherwise would not. Through facebook I am
reaching strangers around the world in countries that I haven’t
even been to. There are so many ways to reach people; you put
your info/images up somewhere, and if someone takes an interest
in you and then they send it out to more people, and other people
take interest then word can spread. I would not say it is just one
thing such as FaceBook, as many of my collectors don’t even
use that – but being a subject of blogs and being seen as actively
participating in the art world is useful for getting exposure and reaction.
8) What was the funniest thing you’ve heard someone say about your own work
My work is pretty serious at the moment and I can’t think of any
funny reactions but some people really do connect to it deeply
and that is satisfying for me. I’ve had people that I haven’t
even met say really cool things on social media. One ‘fan’ said
that by looking at my work she feels that ‘she is me and i am
her’ ..facsinating. I would like to meet her someday. It has been
said that my work is beautiful but tortured, and I’m ok with that
because this body of work is.
9) What is next on the agenda?
I am travelling to Toronto, Canada to do a one month artist
residency in a small creative community on Toronto Island, which
will result in a show in Toronto. I am currently putting my work into
some competitions and group shows… I don’t make too many
plans – things come. I’d like to have another major show next
year but I don’t know where or when that will be yet — I like some
mystery to the ‘what’s next’ question. Right now the focus is a
couple of commissioned works, developing new ideas and then the
10) What’s your advice to children who want to be artists?
Go for it. Never let anyone tell you that what you create is wrong in
any way. Draw from your heart and learn to be confident with that.
Create if you want to and don’t if you don’t. Drawing is therapeutic.
It is a form of expression just like talking, so it can’t be right or
wrong. It is totally valid to believe you are an artist no matter what
anyone says. I think everyone is an artist in some way. Do art
school or not – just be true to your own ideas and expression. Art
comes in so may different forms. Just because there are some
artists who win prizes and get recognized and some that don’t,
there are many reasons for that, it’s not to do with the quality of
expression. The point is to be engaged with art as a practice, and
not with the outcomes.
11) Where can we find out more about April White?
Next Shows: April White will be exhibit new work at the Lennox
Street Annual Studio Show in November 2012.
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