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artist in focus: avis lane willan

Avis is an emerging artist who creates mixed media work on reclaimed wood. She has a fascination with paint and a genuine interest in exploring it. She seeks to create a dialogue with the raw, the rebellious and imperfect, to create an oddness to echo what lies within each of us. She works from Studio 106 in Hove, a collective of twenty artists

How do you describe your work?

I’d describe it as contemporary. I fuse cartoon drawing and the beauty of paint to create interesting shapes, forms and colour using a wide range of materials. Sometimes the work is abstract, sometimes not. I enjoy simplicity and for each painting to be easily read

I create paint junctions that hold some charge, regardless of subject. It’s all about the paint; a never-ending investigation. Underpinning this is a thoughtfulness, a deeper meaning about sensuality and the senses, our shared humanness. And humour too, because life is strange and sometimes truly ridiculous

I’m drawn to awkwardness, imperfection; it’s more engaging for me, more potent. When a painting begins to form itself into a nice ‘easy on the eye’ safe piece, I introduce elements to knock it off balance. I look to make a connection with the work and through that with the viewer

My paintings are mostly oils because I love the intensity of colour and the open time to work with it. I enjoy mixed media because I love the variety and freedom it gives me to be very immediate and to push against mark-making boundaries

What would you say are your greatest influences?

The paint. It’s always about the paint - the sheer joy of handling it. The drawing of a nonsense line - because why on earth be sensible? The thrill of an expressive line that is just right

My greatest personal influence is nature but I don’t paint it. In my painting my influences are observation, my own experiences, the senses, the surreal, humour, the absurd. Being a visual person, I see things and marry them with something else in my head - so my imagination is a huge influence

I also enjoy the Arts on a wider scale…it all feeds in to shapes and colours, clean lines and the senses. Artists who continue to inspire me are Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon, Roy Oxlade, Rose Wylie, (the later works of) Philip Guston, Prunella Clough, Basquait, John Skinner, David Bowie, Queen, Rankin, Guy Richie, Tim Walker and any cartoonist who has made me laugh!

Who do you have in mind when you create your work?

I have in mind the paint! I also have the subject which evolves as the painting develops. For example, if I’m painting the rain, I have to decide how to incorporate the feel of that, the smell of that fresh air into the paint…And I want it to be readable so I put in enough recognizable lines and icons into the image

As I work intuitively, I begin every painting not knowing what the end point will look like. I may have a plan but generally it shifts into the unknown – where often I discover painterly riches, happy accidents waiting to happen

Mostly it's about getting out of the way and listening to the paint. Ultimately, it's all about the paint

What makes your art different, special and irresistible?

If you are slightly eccentric, have an eye for a good painting and enjoy being with a work that is joyful if a bit off the wall, then I’m the artist for you

What do people say when they see your collection / portfolio? How does your art make them feel?

People generally say they are interested to see what I’m up to – I’m known for constantly evolving and being experimental, even uncensored. My work has a base of joy, and most people love the colour and vibrancy. Pretty much everyone loves the humour and the variety in my work. Some see the deeper meanings and enjoy the thinking process. Some just think it’s a bit odd

What do you think motivates people to buy your art? How does it appeal to the heart?

There’s a lot of heart goes into my making. I think it forms a relationship with the owners - they are excited to have it to stay. A bit like a friend you never tire of and will either comfort, calm or entertain. How fantastic to say hello to that each day

There’s an intimacy. Stand closer and get to know me more. It’s two-way, somehow. Not such an inanimate object. I hope it has soul in a ‘no-nonsense, let’s get on with life’ sort of way. It lightens when life can be heavy

Who responds to your work and why do they connect with what you make?

I think those young at heart. Those that see a different aspect of life and are possibly a bit nicely bonkers. Some sort of mostly private streak of being different in themselves, and an awareness of that being just right


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