Artist Interview - featured artist:Lesley Alexander, Botanical Artist and Tutor at Kumeu Arts Centre
* Where do you get your inspiration from? My inspiration is from nature! I have always loved sketching and drawing natural objects, whether they be bones, shells, flowers. I'm never short of inspiration, just time to do it all.
* Who is your favourite artist? My favourite artists are classical artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli as well as William Morris and more recently Rory McEwen - a superb botanical painter whose mastery of painting on vellum is unparalleled! Neal Palmer is an Auckland based botanical artist I admire. The work of botanical illustrators such as Redoute, William Hooker and Maria Sibylla Merian have undoubtedly influenced my work.
* What artist movement(s) do you feel most inspired by? I like to think my work is a cross between science and art - I started off as a medical illustrator in the UK, working in watercolour, graphite as well as pen and ink, but as computers took over, I decided I didn't want to continue in that field. I didn't paint at all when my children were young, and it was only when I was asked to paint 2 clematis for the cover of the British Clematis Journal, that I discovered my love of painting flowers.
* Talk about your art...how do you feel you art has evolved since you first picked up a paint brush? What do you aim to do within your paintings? Are you a 'clean' painter or do you need to get your hands dirty when you paint? I still love working in graphite and watercolour as these allow me to really show the inner details of my subject, whether it be plant, shell or whatever I am trying to draw. I want the viewer to be drawn in and see the wonders of Mother Nature. I'm not a realist - I still want my work to look painted or drawn, not a photographic likeness but I do want it to be accurate. I have recently been involved in a postcard exchange with other botanical illustrators around the world and have been loving using dip pen and ink - that spontaneity and expression of line, very different from my watercolours. I am generally a clean painter, unless my cat knocks over my water jars as she tries to have a drink!
* In your opinion, what makes good art? What makes good art? Well, anything that makes me want to take a closer look.
* Are there any exhibitions/art events you went to recently that most impressed you and why were you impressed?
I went to the Auckland Art Show and loved the work of Stephen Ellis - large drawings in blue biro and whiteout on watercolour paper. If I am in the Auckland Art Gallery, I always sit and take in the stunning portraits of Charles Goldie.
* Do you have a website? I don't have a website... yet, but do have a Facebook page - Lesley Alexander Artist and am on Instagram lesleyalexanderart.
* What do you like most about Kumeu Arts Centre? * What would you like to change/improve in Kumeu Arts Centre? I love being part of KACI, very welcoming and down to earth. I am looking forward to seeing how the centre develops over the next few years and being a part of that. I would love to see more people using the facilities and the area around the building being improved.
NB: Lesley teaches botanical art classes here at Kumeu Arts Centre, Friday mornings 9.30am - 12.30pm