Talkative, Extrovert, Ambitious
I am mainly a self-taught artist. I studied languages and literature in college, and then pursued a career in law, but I discovered that I couldn't let go of painting, and I decided to do it as a hobby. I didn’t realise how far it would go!
Skylight 8"x8" abstract Textured acrylic on boxed canvas ©Caroline Swaine-Donohoe
When was the first time you knew you were an artist?
When I was eight years old. I remember sitting in our playroom on a Saturday morning, my little sister watching cartoons on the TV, while I sat painting in Oils, a picture of boats in a harbour. I remember thinking how nice it felt, and I think it was that exact moment that I realised painting was natural to me.
My style does vary, depending on the theme, or particular image I'm aiming for. I suppose I'm mainly a landscape artist, but I've recently dabbled in abstract pieces and I'm enjoying it.
Oil and Acrylics, though I'm definitely painting more in acrylics lately. You just cant beat the faster drying time!!
I'll be very honest here, I don’t have any fixed process. I just go for it. Other than preparing my studio, the process is rather organic and random and I like it that way. When I am painting I can paint for hours without being 'present'. Its like as if I'm transported to some parallel universe where time stands still and I'm just a means by which the painting gets created, it sort of just happens. (I've just read that back, ok...maybe I'm crazy!)
I've a fascination with trees, which you can tell by my most recent body of work 'Tree of a Kind'. But my main themes are simple, everyday things or scenes that I like to view in a new light. I'm also obsessed with the ocean and I love painting seascapes but I'll paint anything that inspires me and can tell a story.
Where do you find ideas for your art?
In the strangest of places. In general life is pretty mundane and I always feel if you go looking for inspiration it will evade you. I get most of my ideas in the most random moments or places. For example, I was at traffic lights and daydreaming, staring at the shadow a tree was casting on a concrete wall when I realised it was an amazing image, nature vs. concrete!!
Why do you create art?
In my studio in my home beside the sea. I can see the ocean from my bedroom and I usually stand looking for a few minutes and then retreat into my studio.
How often do you create?
I have bursts of creativity, I might not paint for a week and then the next week I will paint all week and all through the night, barely breaking for food or sleep. It tends to be rather intense so I need a few days or even weeks break between the madness.
What is the best artwork you ever created?
The best artwork I've ever created is art that people have wanted as it means I've succeeded in creating something of value to somebody. The single best piece is a small painting I did for my son of a Disney character. The first time he pointed to it and smiled with delight I knew it was my greatest work of art!!!!!
What role does the artist play in this world?
One of importance. I could go on about this for a long time...but I won’t, don’t worry! I really think artists can open communication between diversities, highlight situations and simply get people to think about things. I would love if people would really 'see' things. Its amazing how society can turn a blind eye to so many things and artist very often are then ones that shout 'hey, look at this!'
Do you make a living with your art?
Yes and no. I sell paintings and make a very nice side earner. But not enough to live off. Though that could be more to do with my love of shoes......next question please!
What a question....hmmmm...ok In short I'm heavily influenced by impressionism, in particular Monet, I'm also influenced by Rembrandt, Valesquez, and Turner. Maybe because I studied Literature, but I’m very influenced by writers, such as Bronte, James Joyce, TS Elliot, a lot of those writers created amazing visual images with words.
Can you recommend a great contemporary artist?
This is hard because there are a lot. Ok, an amazing Irish artist Louis le Brocquy, without a doubt one of the most amazing artists EVER. I also recommend Amelie Gagne, she's up and coming, beautiful colourful pieces and there's an element of fairy-tale to her work.
Please tell us something interesting in your life.
I studied Italian in university and travelled all over Italy. I even got married there. Its a country that has such a rich art history and its a very inspiring country for me creatively. I came across a tiny art gallery in Sorrento which had the most extraordinary paintings.... each evening people would stop outside it and I watched as painting after painting was sold. It gave me hope that if you create good art, it will sell!
Did you ever feel like giving up art?
Never. Its like giving up breathing. Just not an option.
Where do you see yourself as an artist 10 years from now?
With a bigger studio, and more well known. And maybe with a little place in Italy where I can escape and paint in peace!
Advice for aspiring and emerging artists
Yes, paint because you have to, because it makes you happy. Never create art to be famous or rich, its pointless. If you do what you're good at and work hard then fame and fortune might follow. But even if they don’t you will still be an artist for the right reasons.
Facebook Page: Caroline Swaine-Donohoe Artist