Alexandra is a perfect example of what a good dose of determination, practice, and positive attitude can produce. We admire the complexity of her work, the many sources of her inspiration, and her honesty about her husband being her biggest champion. ❤️
Please tell us a bit about yourself, and the journey you took to become an artist.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist; I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been drawing, painting, creating. Although I didn’t start working properly as an artist until my late twenties. I started out as a portrait painter, but found my work was stale, it lacked spark and I lacked the knowledge to give it that extra something. So I started creating more of my own work in 2010. That was when the "Back Street" series started, and I started to explore photography and collage. I experimented with different styles and ways of working. Now I work with a mixture of collage and paint, and feel I’ve found my thing. It encompasses everything I’ve learnt so far and I feel my new body of work tells more of what I’d like to say.
What helped you to get to where you are today? Are there any people, events, or experiences that encouraged you or influenced you to do what it is that you do?
I’m a great believer in that there is a reason we meet the people we do and have the experiences that we have. We can learn something from each person and experience, good or bad.
I have met so many beautiful people (and still do) that have given me so much advice or have introduced me to new things. But I think my husband is actually my biggest champion (so cheesy I know!) and he’s the one who has supported me and encouraged me the most. When I’ve thought about giving up he has been there telling me to keep going, he really believes in what I do… Plus he’s the one who taught me how to use Photoshop, which is my primary tool in what I do.
What was the first piece of art that moved you? What was it about it that grabbed you?
This is a tough one to answer. I grew up watching my dad paint, so I think he has been one of the biggest influences as an artist, and it was his paintings that first moved me. I remember thinking – "wow if I could just be as good as him" … I’m still not there yet! But he taught me how to paint and how to paint in different styles. He taught me how old masters build a painting, and taught me how to paint like Monet - which I didn’t do brilliantly. It taught be about colour and light – how to build texture.
The next piece that really moved me would probably be one of Jenny Saville’s early self-portraits. I was blown away! These large, unashamed, in your face pieces of herself. I love her work. The use of colour in her portraits to build skin tone and the looseness of the brush taught me a lot about painting portraits.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Any tips for fellow artists who are having a bit of a dry spell?
I think inspiration can come from everything and anything really. I often find I have idea’s at the most random of times. Although a lot of my work is unplanned and very organic in how it’s produced.
When going through a dry spell I think it’s always good to look at other art. I look at art all the time, I’m a bit obsessed to be honest. But I find looking at others art inspiring, and gives me a fire in the belly to want to create something.
I also find just making a mark – breaking the ice and not worrying too much about what is produced helps also. Sometimes we can get ourselves in pickles worrying that we’re going through a dry spell, or what we’re producing isn’t good enough, and we stop. That’s the worst thing you can do: stop…. Sometimes you’ve just got to produce a lot of crap before you hit on something that works for you.
Where do you work best from? Do you have any habits, or a routine, that help you harness your creativity?
I have a studio at home and one in the centre of town where I live. They both have there merits, but I do have a routine of treating my work like I would a nine to five (although it often goes way beyond the nine to five). I get up very early, grab a coffee and start working.
To be honest I’m a bit of a workaholic because I love what I do, and it’s juggled with being a mum. My eldest daughter is autistic and I homeschool my youngest, so I’ve created a working life that very much works around me being a mum and what my family needs. It doesn’t always make it easy to be creative, and I have to think on my feet and change things up constantly, but it kind of works.
What is your current favourite piece in your own body of work? Why does it hold a special place in your heart?
Hmm… I’m not actually sure. I always think of them as little subconscious bits of thought or narratives, that just pop out into the world and then I just stop thinking about them and move on to the next.
What was the latest piece of art that you bought yourself?
I bought a piece of photography by Lee Smilie. He takes the most beautiful surreal night time images of urban landscapes. They have a dream-like eerie quality to them which I love and could relate to.