Growing up in Leicester, United Kingdom, like most children who enjoy colouring and drawing, Gwen Roberts realised that she was a bit different. She was driven to draw, "like an adult". Fascinated by the works Leonardo Da Vinci, Gwen felt compelled to perfect her drawings with a maturity beyond her years. Of course, like many young artists, life got in the way and adulthood meant paying bills and her pencils gathered dust.
After 20 years and a successful career in the financial industry, Gwen found the time to pick up her pencils once again. She and her husband moved to Australia where she was able to make a name for herself in the community as a professional artist. She was was featured in various local and national publications and exhibited on a regular basis.
In the end, they said goodbye to Australia last year to return to Europe and Javea and be closer to family. Gwen is looking forward to getting involved with our growing artist community and the ART MARKET PROJECT.
You will be able to meet Gwen in person and be amazed by her work as she develops her practice further here in beautiful Javea.
INTERVIEW WITH GWEN ROBERTS
KARLA: How did you get involved in artist expression?
GWEN: I don’t think it was a choice for me. There was no conscious decision and no pivotal point. Making art has always been a compulsion.
I have dyslexia, which was never recognised at school so I always felt slightly different. I think my brain compensated in my artistic abilities for my limited capacity for words.
KARLA: Why is graphite your chosen medium?
GWEN: Firstly, I can get very fine detail with a pencil. I am very observant and very patient. It’s a combination of certain personal characteristics that enable me to create a photorealistic effect. And I think this applies to any kind of mark making. Personality traits affect the art that is being made.
On the whole, graphite is easy to manipulate, I’ve grown up with it and I know it inside out.
Graphite is also clean to work with. I hate getting messy and I’ve probably got the tidiest studio you’ve ever seen. However, I am experimenting with paint. I’ve attempted a couple of oil paintings in the past and I have a large-scale piece I’m working on at the moment.
KARLA: Do you have an opinion about artistic expression being good for your health?
GWEN: I find making art a frustrating process. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that for them it is relaxing and it takes them to a place of serenity. I can well believe that making art can help mental health issues. For me though, it exasperates any mental well being.
Because I am constantly striving for accuracy and perfection, I get very upset with myself and depressed with my work. I can’t actually say I enjoy it. I’m just driven to make this kind of art. As I said previously, it’s a compulsion. It’s like a horrible itch that’s in an awkward place to reach and I can’t stop scratching it.
There are many artists in history that have suffered from anxiety derived from a lack of confidence in their work and abilities. For some it’s part and parcel of the job.
KARLA: Who are your favourite artists and why?
GWEN: Chuck Close is the father of photorealist portraiture in my opinion. I remember arriving in Sydney and I saw his exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. I was blown away to see his work in the flesh. I think fine art is encountered rather than merely regarded.
Robin Eley is another on of my heroes when it comes to painting. Dirk Dzimirsky and Emanuele Dascanio are the masters of graphite.
The craftsmanship and dexterity of these artists is second to none.
I particularly like Dascanio’s compositions. This is an area I feel I need to develop in my own practice. Finding models is always a problem. If anyone is out there and would like to volunteer that would be very welcomed.
KARLA: Do you think that the arts needs to be presented to the people in an open market system?
GWEN: Art should be accessible to everyone and an open market also benefits struggling up-and-coming artists like myself to sell their work. There are no barriers such as expensive commission fees and enables artists to keep the cost of their work down. It also gives buyers the opportunity to meet the artist. I like the anonymity, however, in my experience people are interested in the person behind the work. I am always happy to talk and give advice when asked and an art market is a great forum for that.
KARLA: Do you feel that artists need to learn business and marketing in order to bring their visions to the public?
GWEN: It depends on what drives you to make the art. I believe there are three things that motivate an artist: One is to make money, another is to get recognition and one more is to be technically perfect.
I would say I am the latter. I do have a desire for the other two, especially recognition. But not all artists do it to for the money.
However, if money is being exchanged for goods it’s pretty back and white in my opinion; it’s a business.
I think it is important to conduct yourself in a businesslike manner and market your work and be proactive in getting exposure to increase the value of your work if that is the result you want.
On the other hand if you are motivated to simply bring your work into the public eye there are lots of manners in which to do that. Take for example performance art, street art, there’s social media and many more ways to get your art seen.
All of my work is for sale. I have drawings that have taken weeks to complete and fetch a higher price. And I have abstract works that don’t take as long and sell for much less and are more affordable for to the general public. I seek to cater for every budget.
There is nothing more rewarding for me to know someone has something that I have created in their home no matter how much they paid for it.