Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I live in Sussex and work from home using my attached garage as a studio space. My work is mainly oil on canvas, sometimes with the addition of molochite and clay. My inspiration comes mainly from the stunning coastline and Downlands of Sussex.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
I’ve always been able to draw and paint, but life took me away from art and in other directions. I decided to take formal training after I had two children and they were both in full time school.
What training have you had?
I began as a mature student and studied A level Art, followed by a foundation year then a full time BA Hons in Art and Design.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
I won a contract in 2008 and again in 2009 for 12 images of my work to front on book covers for Bloomsbury Publishing. I also loved the first time a gallery said, “Yes”.
What’s your favourite quote?
The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can clarify in paint. (Georgia O’Keeffe)
Who is your favourite artist?
There are too many to mention them all. I greatly admire Van Gogh, the St Ives Artists, Peter Lanyon in particular, but so many more; Richard Diebenkorn, Ben Nicholson, Roger Hilton, Ivon Hitchens, Rothko, the list goes on and on . . .
What are you aiming for?
I aim to get represented by a few more galleries and sell more work. I also want to continue to develop my ‘artistic voice’, where a Chrissy Guest painting is instantly recognisable.
How will you get there?
I’ll keep painting. With each piece of work I discover new and exciting things. This year, I’ll also spend longer on self promotion.
Is anything holding you back?
Oh, big question. Probably lack of money more than anything. Paint, canvas and promotion is expensive. Exhibiting at good art fairs costs a great deal of money. Time is also a valuable commodity, and it’s difficult to prioritise promotion above painting, catch 22 for the self-representing artist.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I like my work to be admired from a distance and have some element of surprise close up. Reactions are usually favourable and people comment on how they ‘see different things in the work’ every time they look at it.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
Well, I build my work in layers and quite often work over old or unfinished paintings. I love the sense of history in the work, and the re-use of subtle mark making. The whole process can take months, but when I get to the final layer, it can sometimes be very quick and spontaneous.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
I like to have a newsy local station on that has chat and middle of the road music.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I want to work on a series of paintings which won’t stray too far from what I’m currently doing. These will possibly be based on my coastal observation over a period of time.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
Most of the artists mentioned above, mainly because I understand their drive to find something within themselves and put it to canvas. For instance, if you look at the work of Van Gogh, particularly the later work, you can see the frustration and fervour in his brushstrokes and feel his anguish while searching for his elusive goal.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
I’m very drawn to the abstract expressionists, it’s a very special gift to have the ability to go beyond realism and paint from within.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My most recent painting ‘Seastorm’ (90cm x 30cm), there’s a lot of history to this one. It has many layers, some filled with frustration. I feel I’ve come a long way.
an artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Never give up. Being part of the creative world has its ups and downs, but it can be really exciting and rewarding in many ways. Don’t ever measure success by how much money you make and never try to paint for the market, only paint for yourself. Work as hard as you can and always remember you have to spend as much time on promotion as you do on painting.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Art fairs are a really good way to show your work to the public and get yourself known. They are also an important way to network with other artists and gallery owners. Exhibit your work in local art events such as open houses to boost your sales. Have a good website and keep it fresh by changing the images as often as you can. Get your work seen by submitting to art magazines etc., you never know who might see it!
You can visit www.chrissyguest.co.uk for more information on Chrissy including details of her upcoming exhibition at Parallax Art Fair in London this July.