Today we have the pleasure of meeting a wonderful artist Nicola Foote. I found her on http://www.fineartamerica.com. http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-nicola-foote.html I found her paintings to be very nicely done and contacted her to see if she would be willing to allow me the honor of interviewing her for this blog. She was kind enough to say yes so with out further aduo I give you Nicola from England.
Please look for the following post in which I will feature all her wonderful paintings.
1. Where do you find your subjects for the great paintings you produce?
My clown art subjects are formed primarily from imagination, taking inspiration from my own experiences from childhood, which have left lasting impressions, and the many promotional posters you see for the travelling circus both online and in the real world, yet here in England the travelling circus seems to becoming a rarer thing which you don’t seem to be as aware of anymore. Real life experiences of clowns are hard to come by in my walk of life, but there is a wealth of clown imagery on television and online and it is not usually negative or frightening, There is scope to paint every type of clown imaginable which I hope to explore more and more in the future and no shortage of inspiring clown pictures from which to take ideas.
2. Did you create the series for a special project or just because you love clowns?
In a way it was for my own special project to try to find out if I could paint portraiture to any standard. Traditional portraits of just a plain face do not seem to appeal to me very much and achieving realistic skin tones and a convincing personality seems troublesome and tedious, yet I have wanted to capitalise on the impressiveness when seeing a human portrait and the life which it can contain, a clown with a painted face is a good compromise. I love the multi-colours and satin textures of the clowns costume and this, combined with the exaggerated personality, makes the perfect alternative to traditional portraits. I do love the old-fashioned jesters and harlequins which you see in vintage posters, they have a real magical presence and remind me of classic fairy-tales and the strange characters which they contain.
3. I realize that each clown has a specific design that represents them as an artist. Do you base the colours you use off of their look or did you alter the image?
I am aware of how particular a clown is when it comes to their costume and how it defines and emphasizes their character, making a particular statement of what they are about and their intentions as a performer. I don’t think the blurring of the role of certain types of clown in an art image matters too much and I don’t think they would to offended, creating clown paintings from imagination I feel free to invent any combination of color and style that I wish. The stunning color combinations I see in real life clowns seems hard to recreate and often I prefer to choose a simpler range of colors but future attempts will certainly involve bolder colours and more intense images which hopefully portray more of the larger-than-life clown side of the character.
4. Did you follow a certain design principle in staging the painting?
In painting a clown I try to combine a softness of painting style in complementary colors with a strong composition, the clown planted firmly in the centre of the painting creating a powerful presence. Sometimes brightly colored, sometimes more muted and subtle, the pattern and rich textures an important factor, with a ruffled collar or over-sized bow-tie a critical element. The positioning of the hands I feel are important creating a striking link between the facial expression of the clown and the dynamic representation of their actions, a composition which is pleasing yet not to busy but with enough interest to draw attention.
5. If you painted real life clowns, what part of the personality were you trying to have come out in the image?
I have not directly painted a specific real life clown but I definitely take inspiration from a range of particular types of either jesters or white-faced clowns, ones which have both a fun, bubbly entertaining side and, at the same time, more of a sad, enigmatic side to their character. The blurring of the roles of certain types of clown gives potential for creating paintings which show a more complex character which is hard to define but takes a great deal of pondering from the viewers perspective to work out exactly what is going on in the mind of the clown. I try to think whether the clown is one which performs magic tricks, would be very slick and skilled performing things like a juggling act or would be more of a clumsy slap-stick type of clown, I often think of the more mysterious type of clown almost like a pierrot or theatrical clown, but I am not sure of the history of these kinds of characters or where they originate and how they relate to the modern-day circus clown.
6. Portraits are very hard for most artists to paint. Do you have any tips to help others achieve your level of success in their portraits?
I have always thought the most important aspect of portrait painting is to capture the relaxed, natural expression of the subject and focus on capturing their personality, hinting at what is below the surface and creating a kind of background story attached to the sitters image instead of getting so wrapped up in the technical aspects of the painting. The many brilliant portrait artists with their expertise in technically accurate portraits I find very intimidating, with the wealth of portrait painting advice I think it is easy to feel overwhelmed and to maybe miss the point, an artist should draw on their own unique skills and qualities and create portraits which encompass both their own personal viewpoint on life as well as the subjects, believing their is value in their artistic creation because it portrays the unique observations and feelings of you as an individual artist.
7. How do you go about choosing the pallet for each painting?
I am used to using just the primary colors for my paintings in general, with white of course, and for many paintings mix my favourite shades of pink and blue but the clown portrait always seem to demand oranges, reds and yellows, these are the colors which I associate with the classical circus clown. I would wish to be more adventurous with my colour schemes, using more vivid and bright multi-colors, but without going to much over the top, still preserving a sense of calm in the portrait. I’m not sure if people in general like very bold, colourful artwork on their walls or if they find it off-putting but if a bold, dramatic painting is what they are looking for then a clown portrait would certainly be at an advantage.
8. Have you displayed the collection of paintings in public? If yes, overall was the response positive? I find there are always a few who avoid my display booth because of a fear of clowns, but overall the response I get is very positive.
I have never displayed my clown paintings as a collection, only individually within local galleries, people seem drawn to the paintings as an example of a portrait but it is difficult to discern whether or not they like the specific subject of clown art, I have certainly not been aware of anyone avoiding my work because of a real fear of clowns, I wonder if this is an idea which has been generated in the minds of Americans, over here clowns are usually perceived as something positive and friendly with a kind and fun nature.
9. Are you available to create commissions for other great clowns and if so what are your rates?
Bad experiences in the past have put me off taking commissions for the being, I have been focusing on trying to create an online presence and sell prints and other items which feature all my pictures including other subjects as well as clowns. If there was any indication that clown artwork would become popularized I would love to be considered an artist who has a leading role in this, there are a myriad of ideas I have for creating clown portraits. There needs to be more encouragement from prospective purchasers if they have an interest in any kind of clown art to draw attention to the subject of clowns.
BLOG Author note here “There needs to be more encouragement from prospective purchasers if they have an interest in any kind of clown art to draw attention to the subject of clowns.” Very well said I too have noticed a lack of interest in this particular form of art. I find clowns to be wonderful subjects because they are colorful and happy images. The hope of making them more popular among the general public and all clowns I come in contact with is one of the goals of this blog. Post a comment on this blog if you love clown art. We would love to hear from you -the collector.
10. Where can you be found online?
I have two new blogs about art in general at http://www.fineartprintsgreetingcards.org and http://www.fineartgiftscollectibles.org/blog/blogs I have discovered a love for writing about art related subjects and want to learn more than I have before about all aspects of art including the subject of clowns, I would like to get past any negative thoughts which hold me back and maybe increase the creative potential which I’m sure I have.
11. How can someone contact you if they wish to buy one of works or hire you for a commission?
My art prints are available at http://www.fineartprintsgreetingcards.com which include a range of different art subjects. I also have some clown art collectibles available at http://www.fineartgiftscollectibles.com/clown-art-gifts-and-collectibles.html
12. I guess the question I get asked most is “Why clowns?” What would you say if someone asked you this question?
The presentation of the clowns performance has always been prominent in my mind, maybe they are sometimes slightly overwhelming, but the colour and passion within their performance, and slightly surreal aspect of their persona, has always stood out to me and made me drawn to paint them. The old master paintings of court jesters and harlequins in elaborate costume, while not the modern white-faced clowns, originally sparked my interest in jesters and clown, these types of representations of clowns I find very magical and enigmatic, but I am not sure what specific image started the fascination. Yet the uncertainty as to their popularity as artwork holds me back slightly, never knowing whether or not to throw myself wholeheartedly into creating solely clown art portraits, the traditional subjects of animals and landscape seem to have more of a prominent position within the art world. I don’t really understand where the whole concept of clowns as something sinister and the irrational fear of clowns started. Was it one thing in particular or just a strange idea which has been unfairly applied to the clown persona? I have just thought of them as fascinating art subjects with an endless variety of costume styles in beautiful colours.
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know such a thoughtful well spoken artist. Please check out her blogs and stay tuned for the next post to this blog in which we get to see her work in larger pictures in my next post.
Once again it has been a pleasure getting to know Nicola and I would like to thank her for her wonderful answers to my questions.
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Patty Sue O’Hair- Vicknair Clown Portrait Artist To The World