ArtsTalk Blog - Q & A with Artist Barbara Large

Today's feature artist is Barbara Large, who has been a SSAC member since 2018. She presently lives in Alliston, Ontario.

Q. As an artist what is the medium you use? Do you ever combine mediums? Describe how or why you might do so.

Answer: The medium that I use is watercolour, although, I am both familiar with and have used oil and acrylic paints. I have combined mediums, but do not make it my practice unless I want to create mixed media works.

Q. When did you become an artist? Have you found this easy to say, "I am an artist"?

Answer: I became a full-time working artist in 1980 by joining the local art group in my community and from there began entering juried shows, regularly and steadily, finally ending up becoming an Elected Member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. I have belonged to many Art Associations over the years but limit myself to only a few presently. Yes, I do find it easy to say I am an artist.

Q. Do you have a mentor or some special influence that has contributed to your growth in your artistic creativity? How has this, or someone influenced you. If this is a person, are they also an artist?

Answer: I do not have a mentor but did have the distinct pleasure of working with some astute Canadian artists who contributed to my development in becoming a professional working artist by encouraging me to take both chances and risks and to face challenges whenever they presented themselves.

Q. When you begin a new work do you have a set routine or some specific steps to start the process?

Answer: I draw all my paintings out first and do not begin to apply paint until I am totally satisfied with the drawing, ensuring that it is complete. I then start to paint moving back and forth working with both the negative and the positive spaces until the piece is completed.

Q. Do you have a favourite subject that you are drawn too? What do you think is the reason for this?

Answer: No. I do not actually have a favourite subject but of late it has been flowers catching my attention. Flowers for both their brilliant colours and numerous sizes and shapes. My paintings are about colour, space, form, and shape.

Q. Do you have you own studio or specific place that you work in?

Answer: Yes, I do have my own working space. Even though I have this space, my preference is to paint 'en plein air'. I like to be outside.

Q. Does your art require specific tools, supports, or time requirements that would add to your ability to successfully complete a piece?

Answer: Yes, my art does require a few special tools such as boards and butcher tape. All my paintings are taped to a board. This gives me stability and prevents my watercolour paper from moving, wrinkling and or buckling which would take place otherwise. However, the above process would not be required if I were using a watercolour block. Unfortunately, there are no blocks available for doing large paintings that I am aware of. Time involved in a painting depends on the size. Small paintings usually take me five hours and my largest paintings about fifty-two hours from beginning to end.

Q. What would you suggest as a way to begin, to assist someone interested in learning your art?

Answer: I teach art here in my Community Centre offering a Twelve-week Watercolour Course. The goal for my students is to learn how to use the medium as well as how to create their own piece of art. I encourage them to develop their own individual style.

Q. What are some challenges you have faced as an artist and what helped you overcome them?

Answer: I think one of the biggest challenges facing artists today is marketing their work. Finding places to exhibit your work by joining art clubs, art associations, participating in juried exhibitions and exhibiting in galleries are good ways of getting your work before the public.

Q. When you have dry spells or blanks in the creative process how do you deal with it?

Answer: I do have dry spells and when such take place, I take photographs which I can, if necessary, use as reference material.

Q. What is one of your memorable successes in relation to your work?

Answer: My most memorable occasion was becoming an Elected Member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. Other memorable occasions include participating in a travelling exhibition going across Canada through the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour in conjunction with the Blackwood Gallery, Erindale College, University of Toronto. I was also invited to take part in the International Biennial Exhibition at the National Museum in Coyoacan, Mexico 2004.

Q. Do you have a quote or phrase that you like to use?

Answer. I have two. Sally Hales, 'What makes a great artist'? 'Years of study, commitment and hard work'; and from Architectural Digest, Nov.2018: 'Art is Everything. There isn't any other possession that contributes as much dignified beauty to your home, encourages as much thought and tends to maintain or appreciate in value'.

Q. Do you accept commissions?

Answer: No.

Q. If our readers are interested to know or see more of your work how would you like them to contact you?

Answer: They can see some samples of my work on the Member's List at Forty-One, South Simcoe Arts Council, Alliston, Ontario. They can email me at bdlarge@bell.net.