British artist Rebecca Molloy currently lives and works in South East London. Since graduating from Coventry University in 2008 with a First Class Hons Degree in Fine Art she has exhibited in galleries and art fairs across the UK. Selected exhibitions include The Lynn Painter-Stainer’s Prize, Royal Society of British Artists and The Other Art Fair. Rebecca’s paintings are vivid portrayals of the human form and she is concerned with pushing the very traditional subject matter of Portraiture and Nudes into a new direction.
How did you become involved in art?
I have always loved art and when at school I quickly became aware that I had an aptitude for drawing. I always knew that I wanted to do something within art, but didn’t even consider that I would one day become an artist. After finishing my GCSE’s, instead of continuing with my A-levels, I went to work in an office but soon came to realise that this wasn’t the right direction for me. Fortunately it gave me the drive and direction to pursue other avenues and a year later I was accepted onto a foundation course in art and design at Leicester College, which I guess was where it all began.
What are your top inspirations?
I often find the media of film very inspiring for new compositions. The interesting frame sequences and close up shots are also concerned with colour, tone and lighting. I frequently find myself scribbling down ideas for compositions when I’m watching films. I am also heavily influenced by Graphic Novels, I believe that this is really underrated art form and I am constantly fascinated with the often refreshing and striking images that graphic artists produce.
Do you have a current favourite artist?
I have recently been looking a lot at Michael Borreman’s work. I really admire his commitment to his painting technique, but more importantly his ability to find new and exciting ways of portraying the human condition.
What do you find most difficult about being an artist?
I think what is most challenging is coping with the amount of mistakes you have to make and understanding your process before you find a resolution and are able to complete a good painting. I work very quickly and produce lots of work, often reworking images several times until I am happy with them. This approach and process is best for me as it means I keep the mark making quite instinctive and expressive. In the past, when I have spent several weeks on one piece it would always appear too laboured. So although this way of working suits me better it is not without it’s challenges, it can be very soul destroying when you are in the midst of several paintings and none of them feel like they are successful.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
When I produce a piece that I think really works! This happens when I feel that it signifies the series that I’m working on and it communicates something other than just looking like a person.
What gave you the idea to start Repre?
When I first moved to London my initial idea was to do a Masters degree so that I could develop my practice further and also so that I could join the community of artists here in London. After being knocked back I decided to do something myself and invited a group of painters to form a collective. Although each Repre artists’ work is different, it all has a common theme, representation. The idea was that we would exhibit work together, visit shows and meet at each other’s studios to do crits- similar to the university experience but without the establishment.
What opinion do you have of the art world today and what would you like to see change about it?
I’m very lucky to be part of such a vibrant art community in London; there are a vast amount of exhibitions going on and lots of opportunities to take part in, so in many respects I am very happy with the art world.
One thing that I do encounter is that representational painting is viewed as a thing of the past. This is not to say that there aren’t lots of exhibitions around this subject matter, but it often feels like these shows are focusing on the very technically accomplished realist works. The BP award at the National Portrait Gallery is a show that fits this bill exactly. I have seen some brilliant paintings at the BP award, some of my favourite in fact, but I think that it would be great for the NPG to start accepting work that pushes boundaries and shows all areas of representational painting that is going on today.
I love the intensity of colour in your painting ‘Moulded’. Can you explain how you created this piece and the process behind it?
This painting was one of a series in which I explored the idea of the ‘close up’. In films, the close up is a common technique to give you an insight into the character, and to really focus on this person and what they are feeling. I wanted to use this technique as an opportunity to scrutinize the face, to capture an emotion or thought and to mould the form with the use of colour and brushstrokes.
What techniques and materials do you use?
I use acrylic paints on Perspex as I love the luminosity that this adds to my work. I build up thin layers of paint and allow parts of the Perspex to be visible through the painting.
Could you describe a typical day in the studio?
Before starting a new painting I tend to draw my ideas out on paper first, using watercolours to map out areas of colour. I usually spend around 6-7 hours at one time working on one piece, but this is starting to change and develop as I find myself doing smaller intense bursts of painting on a number of pieces at once, moving to work from one to another more quickly. This is becoming more apparent when working on larger paintings to ensure that I maintain a more instinctive approach to mark making.
What advice can you give to new artists?
Find a balance. After I finished university it was really important to me that I continued my practice, no matter what. I ensured that when I found a job, it was secondary to my painting, not necessarily in terms of hours but in terms of my ambitions. Over time I was able to work less hours in my day job and spend more time in the studio. Building up a community for yourself is also really important. I'm not sure that isolated artists have ever existed, but it is important that you surround yourself with a network of artists, galleries and collectors. Not only to exhibit and sell work, but for support and to ensure that you continue to challenge your own practice.
To follow Rebecca:
Facebook: Rebecca Molloy Art