In the Studio: Claire Western

‘Creating art has always been a part of my life and nature plays a big role in my creation process. I’m inspired by the lines, edges and colours that I see when I’m out exploring as well as the experience along the way.’

Join us as we get to know more about Wirral based artist Claire Western in this months featured artist blog.

Which medium do you work with and what do you like about it specifically?

I am presently working with acrylics and enamels. What I like most about acrylics is how quickly you can layer the paint. The faster drying time is ideal as I am currently working on wood panels which can sometimes bleed into the natural grain of the wood. I do like this effect, however, sometimes I prefer a crisper edge. I like to play with the opacity of paint which I find easier with acrylics.

Previously I have worked with oils and while I do prefer the finish and overall feel, they wouldn’t be suitable for my current work. I also like to finish my paintings with a touch of gold enamel. During the planning stages, in my sketchbooks, I use various mediums ranging from pencil, charcoal, watercolours, pastels and inks.

Describe your style of art:

I would say that my art style is abstract and minimal.

Can you talk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just go straight in? How long do you spend on one piece? How do you know when it is finished?

Initially, it begins with a walk. I have a very busy mind and to get my ideas to come forward normally involves walking/hiking or meditation. I always have about ten painting ideas in my head at any one time. My current work is based on landscapes so I collect images and use photographs (from walking) to begin my composition.

Then I start sketching, breaking down the landscapes into simpler more abstract forms, as well as finding the perfect edge or horizon to create the lines in my work. It is quite a therapeutic process for me. I prefer to keep a limited colour palette so the landscapes are not too obvious and leave room for interpretation. I spend a lot of time mixing colours, playing with the opacity and testing them to create the right aesthetic. Sometimes the finished painting will differ from the preliminary sketches, however, I feel it is a natural progression which I welcome.

In regards to the time that it takes to complete a painting, each piece varies. One painting can take days to complete as it takes time for the layers to dry. I try to work on two or three paintings at a time which I like as it gives the paintings a connection with each other.

Knowing when a painting is finished is always a tough one, I tend to want to keep adding more and more. I have to stop myself frequently as I become so immersed in the process it can compromise the composition. Sometimes I have to step back for a few days and look at the painting with fresh eyes which gives me more clarity in the decision.

When did you begin your career in art? 

I have always been really creative throughout my life, however, I would say that in the last four years I have concentrated more on my art.

Who or what inspires your art? 

I find myself inspired by many things, including landscapes, derelict buildings, poetry, dreams and music to name a few. I lose myself completely when creating, it is an indulgence for the senses. I do a lot of walking and photography as well.

There are so many artists that have influenced me over the years but my current favourites are Karina Bania, Tomas Hammar, Julianne Strom Brill and Kathryn Mac.

Claire Western-Studio

What is one of your favourite pieces that you have done and why? 

My favourite piece at the moment is ‘Wondering Through’. I find it really calming. The landscape is influenced by is called Antelope Canyon which is so sculptural. I have yet to see it but the thought of wandering through it, being surrounded by the abstract rock formations and getting lost fascinates me. Every time I look at this piece I get that sense of curiosity, it pulls me in.

Wondering Through, Claire Western
Wondering Through, Claire Western

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a series on monochrome ink paintings which have been helping me develop my mark making and expression. I love how fast and instant the process is and will incorporate it into my future work.

What’s your most unusual artistic habit or strangest technique you have learnt?

I didn’t notice until recently, but I wiggle my toes while I paint or mix colours.

What are your favourite things to listen to whilst painting? If anything!

I have a very eclectic taste in music ranging from Native American flutes to Led Zeppelin or even the sound of rain falling. I always have something playing while I create, it allows me to disappear into the ‘zone’.

What’s the best advice that was given to you as an artist? 

I think the best advice was to create for the joy of it rather than trying to please others. When I am painting or drawing I am truly happy and at peace.

Discover more of Claire’s artwork on our online shop!