22 May 2017

interview with an artist

Chloé Harmsworth 

Picture courtesy of the artist
If you are a regular visitor to these pages, which I hope you are! You'll know that we like to champion local talent that we feel deserves a wider audience. We've concentrated predominantly on musicians and today's interviewee has a link to that genre, through her album artwork. So grab a coffee and sit back and enjoy our interview. On and when you can please go and visit her site and if you want a commission then there are details for you to follow. Welcome to the Sketches pages, Chloe Valerie Art.


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Sketches: Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Chloé Valerie, I am an artist and editor who lives in St Albans.

artist


Sketches: What made you become an artist?

I’ve just always done it. Apparently, as a child, I had no sense of time as I’d while away hours on one drawing/painting, making us late to everything! It’s part of me and I’ve always had the instinct to do it. I find it very calming and satisfying, and I love the pleasure it gives people when I give them something I’ve created for them. It’s definitely one of the most genuine, fulfilling and happiness-inducing things in life.

Sketches: How would you describe your art?

It’s quite tough to describe your own work!

In terms of form, my art usually consists of ink or pen drawings. I create custom portraits of people and their loved ones, as well as colouring sheets for events, although I have also created illustrations or paintings for musicians to use. Other things I like to do, which have been just for my husband or myself so far, is to create little cartoons and abstract acrylic paintings. So a few very different forms there!



portraits
Example of a custom made portrait - courtesy of the artist

In terms of theme/style, I’d say that my illustrations are almost cartoony, but very much nature-focused: I seem to always come back to trees, leaves, birds, woodland creatures… My human characters often cross the line into nature – perhaps because nature is also another big passion of mine. For my custom portraits, the style is more realistic, of course, but hopefully with an interesting twist on it.

I’ve also been told that much of my imagery, such as for Said the Maiden’s album ‘A Curious Tale’, has a dark, creepy, fairy-tale feel to it, which is a nice description, I think! There’s definitely an odd dreaminess about it…(see below).

Chloe valerie
Artwork for Said the Maiden's first Album: courtesy of the artist

Sketches: Which artists influenced your art?

Merho! You won’t have heard of him, probably, but he’s a Belgian cartoonist. I’ve been reading his comic books ‘De Kiekeboes’ since I was little, and I can definitely see that his style has influenced me. I liked how he could create lots of different characters using different eye and nose shapes etc., and so I experimented with the same as a young teenager. I used to draw caricatures of all my friends and make up my own characters in my version of his style!

Another big influence that has become apparent to me over the last few years is Magritte (another Belgian!). I adore his surrealist style and the way he portrays elements of nature, in what I call his ‘blue sky style’, and I’ve noticed that my weird nature images and acrylic paintings have a hint of him within them.

I also love Ralph Steadman, in particular, his illustrations for Hunter S. Thompson’s writings. His brand of craziness is particularly attractive to me. Every now and again I do have a Steadman phase!

Finally, I can’t underestimate how much Tove Jansson has inspired me, with both her illustrations and writings for her Moomin series. They are just magical. 

Sketches: Is art your full-time career or a hobby?

Alas, it is only a hobby right now, as I haven’t quite cracked how to make more money from it! Being a freelance editor is my full-time career at the moment, which is good as it pays the bills! Hopefully, the benefit of working for myself will be that I can squeeze more time in for my art – but it can be hard to create art to a schedule, as you never know when inspiration will hit (or when work deadlines have to take priority!)

Sketches: Where can people see/buy your art? 

On my website: chloevalerieart.weebly.com and also on Facebook and Instagram at Chloe Valerie Art. I don’t have a shop yet, as currently, my work is custom-made, but people are welcome to email/message me to let me know what they’d like. My email address is chloevalerie86@gmail.com 

My ambition is to exhibit some of my work, so watch this space!

Courtesy of the artist

Sketches: How would you describe your art in one word?

Curious?! Quirky? Imaginative? Nature-y? I’m not sure that anything can be described in one word, really, but I’d love to know which words other people would use describe my art. What do you think, Gavin?! ;) - How would you describe Chloe's work? Leave a comment at the bottom, we'd love to know. 

Sketches: Can you see your art changing or will you keep to the same style and format? 

I imagine that when it comes to painting, my art will change as I explore more techniques and ideas, especially as I always want to try something new (or traditional!). But I think I will always do my pen drawings too and that my style for those possibly won’t alter much.

chloe valerie

Sketches: What projects have you got in the pipeline?

Well, I recently created my fifth colouring sheet for the Woodland Trust, and I hope to do more art for them this summer. I’d also like to start painting in my new garden, trying out some new things and getting long-awaited ideas on the canvas finally! I’m particularly keen to create a series of paintings and some more colouring sheets and portraits.

Extra Questions:
1) What does art mean to you?

It’s therapeutic and something that quietens and concentrates my mind and body. It’s a great way to express whatever is currently occupying me, and it is a lot of fun too!

2) Are there other formats you'd like to get into?

I was never really taught how to use different paints at school (can you believe it?), so I’d like to learn how to use watercolours well, as I’ve only had minor success with it in the past. I really admire people who can do beautiful, impressionistic landscape paintings in that medium, so I’d love to do my own. 

3) What's your work environment like? Do you draw/paint in silence, do you have a studio etc.?

It’s usually at a table in our living room, whilst my husband is making dinner or watching TV! If I’m on my own I’ll listen to music I know really well, such as Florence and the Machine, Biffy Clyro, The Cure or The Smiths, just to have some lovely background sound. I dream of having a light, airy studio in a converted barn/stable/attic, where I could work on bigger canvasses. Ha! Maybe one day!

My thanks to Chloe for her time and allowing me to showcase some of her work. I hope you found the interview informative and interesting. As we stated before please if you can go and visit her page (links in the interview). Thanks as always...more interviews to come in the future. 

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