Andrea Clement won this year’s #xmaslino Linocut Christmas Card photo competition, which we run each year over on Twitter, looking for a good photo that shows using linocut to make an edition of cards. I was intrigued to find out more about the artist behind the charming, folksy Christmas card design, and discovered an artist who works predominantly with mixed media, and juggles her work as an artist with being a mother, and has also published a stress relief colouring book for adults.
Lisa: Your linocut cards are really charming! Do you often work in linocut, and what do you like about the medium?
Lisa: You won £50 gift vouchers from us for your Lino Xmas Card competition entry, congratulations! What did you spend the money on and do you have any ideas on how you will use your new art materials?
Andrea: I got some new brayers as my old ones were a little bit worse for wear, 2 Pfeil lino cutting tools for details (I’ve been lusting after those for a while) some red Caligo Relief Ink (which looks lovely) and a big bottle of Jackson’s Indian Ink. I’ve been experimenting with ink resist quite a lot lately and so get through a lot of Indian Ink; the Jackson’s waterproof Indian Ink comes in decent sized bottles at a reasonable price so they’re perfect for me.
Lisa: What other media do you like to work with?
Andrea: I’m primarily a mixed media artist so there’s not much I don’t work with to be honest – it’s all fair game! The media I probably use the most though is acrylic paints/inks and collage (mainly my own pre-prepared papers with the odd bit of found paper). I get through a lot of glue and gesso. It can all get a bit messy sometimes so if I need a break from the mess I’ll pick up my pens and markers and work on something a bit more orderly for a while.
Lisa: I’ve noticed there’s often text incorporated into your mixed media pieces. Can you tell us how you select what text you use, and where you find the pages to paste into your collages?
Andrea: My selection of text can be quite varied. If there’s something specific I want to say I’ll trawl through flyers and junk mail etc. trying to find the appropriate pieces, other times it will be a piece of text that catches my eye and imagination and I’ll build a piece around it. I also use whole pieces of text for backgrounds, usually with some over-painting or printing. These come from a variety of sources, vintage sewing patterns, papers and receipts are good, old books from charity shops with interesting paper/fonts/words/languages etc. I’m always on the lookout for a new source of text. I’ve been fascinated with the use of text in painting for quite sometime. I think it all started in the 80’s as a teenager when I discovered artists like Kurt Schwitters. I was fascinated with how he incorporated scraps of text into his pieces and I think that fascination and urge to explore the media further has stuck with me.
Lisa: Can you tell us how you go about composing your collages – is it done intuitively or do you often make patterns and drawings to use specifically for a particular mixed media you are working on?
Andrea: I’d have to say both. There are some that evolve intuitively and others where I have quite a firm idea of where I want to go and what I need to prepare in advance to achieve that. The second method all sounds terribly organised but rarely turns out that way; a piece often hits bumps in the road along the way no matter how carefully planned, and I have to rethink it, but then that’s true of a lot of art. It’s a journey and the unexpected twists and turns are what makes it interesting – it all becomes a part of the piece, the history of it’s conception and creation woven into it. I can often agonise for hours over the compositional elements of a collage – when I thought it was nearly there but something hasn’t been quite right. I sometimes have to almost completely rearrange the composition in order to make it work. But the “aha” moment when all the elements finally click into place to my satisfaction makes it all worth it.
Lisa: You have also published a stress relieving colouring book for adults. Can you tell us about the book and what made you decide to make it in the first place?
Andrea: My colouring book is called “An Artist’s Garden – Stress Relief Colouring” and can be found on Amazon. When the interest in adult colouring books first started a lot of people I knew encouraged me to publish my own after seeing a lot of the pen drawings I had been working on. I only got around to publishing my book this year which meant I was a bit late to the party! I still think it was worth doing though, aside from the experience of learning how to publish a book using an online platform like Createspace (which is a useful addition to my skills) I believe my book still has something different to offer with my drawing style. Plus I’m sure anyone who enjoys colouring is always on the lookout for new books to colour. I find drawing with pens and markers relaxing and it helps me to unwind so I’m hoping others will benefit from colouring them in (I do add colour to my own pen drawings and find it immensely satisfying).
Lisa: How do you balance making art with being a mother, and all the other responsibilities you carry? Do you have any advice for anyone out there who struggles to dedicate time to everything that you need to?
Andrea: I do sometimes feel like I have quite a few plates spinning but then that’s true of most mothers! I had to take quite a long break from my art while my son was school-phobic and needed home educating – there wasn’t really time for much else apart from working a few days a month as a photographer for a local auction house which was about all I could fit in with everything else. Thankfully he’s decided to go back to school now (after 8 years of Home Ed!) so I actually feel quite lucky with the time I have during the day now as it would have been an impossible luxury before. As for advice, I’d give the same advice to anyone that I have to keep giving myself (I do have remind myself often): if you work from home don’t let the home distract you when you’re supposed to be working and make sure friends and family realise that just because you’re “at home” that doesn’t mean you’re not busy working.
Lisa: Can you tell us about where you do the majority of your work and why it is conducive to creativity?
Andrea: I’m lucky enough to have my own studio in our cottage and I really do appreciate it as it’s so lovely to be able to leave work out rather than have to constantly tidy it away which is what I had to do in out last house when I was working on the kitchen table. I have a lovely long desk (if a bit cluttered) under the window and can look out onto the garden and lane beyond. I love watching the wildlife which I always find inspirational.
Lisa: What are you working on at the moment?
Andrea: At the moment I’m doing a daily challenge that I set myself: #100daysofcollageandpattern. Everyday I produce a piece to post on Instagram and whatever it’s subject it has to contain a collage and a pattern element. That should take me up to Christmas Eve and I think I might have a few days off from posting on social media then! It’s useful setting yourself a challenge, it can take you places where you wouldn’t have explored in depth creatively otherwise. I also try to take part in the Twitter monthly art challenges ( the ones that started with #drawingaugust). Some months I’ll try and complete a piece everyday and other months I take a step back and only post when I feel like it but I try and stay involved as it’s been a great way of meeting other artists online and staying connected. I’ve also spent a lot of time lately getting my website up and running, I finally published it on the weekend which is a huge relief although I still have a lot more images to upload to my portfolio and shop. I’m planning on doing some more lino printing in the very near future as this weekend I finally managed to find an affordable mangle in good condition ( I’ve been looking for years). Other projects in the embryonic stage include working with found wood etc. I did start making a little hare sculpture last year from bits and bobs found in the shed, paper, fabric etc. but he’s still waiting for me to finish him! I’ve also just made a start on preparatory sketches for a second colouring book, this time with a guinea pig theme (we have 7 ).
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Andrea: My website (all fresh and shiny!) is https://www.