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Meet the Artist
Artist in Residence - Judith Selcuk
- Written by Vanessa Champion Vanessa Champion
We have been incredibly lucky to be working with Judith, not only is she a great artist, but she's also really fun to work with and has thousands of ideas all the time, a total joy to be with and be inspired by. We catch up with her just before the launch of a very exciting development from Strathmore Artist Papers here in the UK, we are launching a new Art magazine, "The Line", which Judith is editing. Stuffed full of interviews, tips and inspiration, we hope you'll love it. But before that is live, we want to share with you a little about our Artist in Residence Judith Selcuk.
I have always been a creative person and my favourite lesson in school was always art. I remember clearly the moment art stopped becoming a hobby to an addiction. I was writing my GCSE thesis and visited the Tate Liverpool. I was in awe of the illustrations in Alice in Wonderland which was on exhibition at the time. I later started a fine art course at my local college but decided that it wasn’t me after a failed attempt at sculpture when I glued my Grandmother’s false teeth together to suspend from strings only for her to ask for them back at a later date! It was then I transferred to Graphic Design and Print.
I went to study at Falmouth School of Art specialising in Graphic Design. Whilst I learnt an awful lot I have to admit being put off anything remotely resembling a pencil when I finished.
After a 15-year break raising a family, I needed something that I could earn an income from whilst staying at home with my fourth child, Yes fourth! I picked up a pencil to see if I could still draw and away I went. I ventured into the world of animal portraits and painted many a wonderful horse and much-loved dog. I had a tin of old watercolour pencils that for some reason I had always kept and they opened up a whole new world to me. I found I had a gift for using them to create realistic portraits. I still painted with gouache, my favourite, closely followed by acrylic.
Can you tell us a little about your career, where did you study and what have been the highlights so far?
I have been very lucky to have had lots of highlights in my career. Last year I held my first solo exhibition in Malvern Theatre Gallery, it was a huge amount of pressure but I just about made the deadline with 12 paintings. I have been published internationally with Ann Kullberg and exhibited all over the country.
What has inspired you the most during your career and why?
The majority of my inspiration came from hours of reading art books, blogs and joining Facebook art groups. There were so many amazing artists that were willing to share their art with you and impart so much knowledge it was hard not to be inspired!
What do you love most about being an artist and why?
I love being an artist, I get to fulfil my passion of creating, of playing with art materials. I love the smell of new paper and paint. It is like feeding your soul.
Your favourite medium and why?
My favourite medium has to be coloured pencil followed closely by gouache. I use them similar to oil paints in that I use hundreds of glazing layers to create myriads of colours that shine through each other. Long gone are the days of the Crayola chunky coloured pencils, these days the pigments are divine and capabilities limitless.
You teach and demonstrate all over the country, what do you find is the most common challenge for new or existing artists?
The most common challenge for all artists is the fear of the white space. Being an artist does not mean that you always have the next painting ready to go in your mind. Many times you get over awed by the fear of the white paper. You can dread making a mark just in case it’s wrong. Artists by nature are very emotional people and can be demoralised very quickly and it is so important to remind yourself that there is no such thing as getting it wrong, only learning.
If I was to impart any advice to an artist whatever their level it would be to sketch, sketch and sketch. Carry around a sketchbook with you wherever you go and try to draw at least once per day. It only needs to be for 5 minutes.
The brain is like a muscle in that it remembers over time how to do something. Synapses are fired from one side to the other and this is how the creative process is born.
Which shows are you demonstrating at this year?
As our artist in residence what do you think of Strathmore paper generally, which paper do you love using the most and why, what are the benefits to your work?
I first came across Strathmore paper in the Jackson’s Wonders of Winter competition. Since that day I can honestly say I haven’t used anything else since. From sketch to finished art it will always be Strathmore, even canvas paper has allowed me to mount the canvas on to panels so I can still use Strathmore even with acrylics and oils. Strathmore gives me the diversity and quality I need with my art. As a commercial artist everything is for sale and I do literally mean everything. From the smallest sketch to the biggest painting. I have to use a paper that will always give me top quality results and be archival too.
I am heavy handed, the paper takes so much punishment it is amazing. In the past three years I have only had one disaster and that was down to me not watching what I was doing rather than the paper, given I use at least one sheet a day and work for on average 350 days a year over three years that is over 1000 pieces of paper and only one failure. I guess I can say looking at this that Strathmore gives me confidence in my art as I am sure I wouldn’t have had this success rate without it.
Heaven forbid anything should happen, what would you rescue from your studio?
If I had to rescue anything from my studio it would be my coloured pencils, Strathmore paper and a few artworks. There could not just be one item, I simply couldn’t leave my babies behind! Please note that from now on I shall be keeping a trolley in my studio for easy escape with my beloved items!
If you were a Strathmore paper, which one would you be?
If I were a Strathmore paper I would have to be the 400 series Bristol with a vellum finish. It is my weakness, with the side open cover, the deliciousness of the paper and adaptability, need I say more?
What are your websites, social media links?
You can find my art on Artfinder and ArtGallery.co.uk