Artist Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie lives and works on her Croft in Gairloch with its wide open vistas and Sandy beaches, contrasting to the rocky inlets on my part of the North West of Scotland. I first met Lynn at an artists networking event, back in the good old days when there was funding for the arts. I was instantly struck by how unique and different her work was, bright and refreshing. While most of the other highland artists seem to concentrate on landscapes, textured, abstracted, primary colours on the east coast, browns and grays for the west, Lynn painted figures, lively joyous mermaids in a lovely loose impulsive style. We got to know each other better through serving on an arts committee and also through social networking, which is a real sanity saver for us creatives who live and work in isolation.
Through the strength and subject matter of her work, Lynn was invited to the Arts symposium in Russia this year. She was kind enough to extend the contact out to her artist friends- I jumped at the chance! and thus we travelled together to Tatarstan for a life changing adventure. See previous blogs for much more about this! It could have been a disaster, imagine all those artists egos clashing? But Lynn's patience and humour in a high pressured environment were magnificent! We west coast mothers just seemed to have the same approach to things.
I asked Lynn a little about her work which is currently going from strength to strength-
How do you describe your work?
I would describe it as illustrative, emotive, narrative
Do you make a living from your work? do you do other work if so what &
how do you manage the different activities?
As with most artists, it is difficult to make a living from my work, but I supplement it with selling cards & prints, and also offer a picture framing service. I manage to juggle both pretty well at the moment and one complements the other.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from many things. The area in which I live is atmospheric, with legends and tales of the sea and woods. Also, words, thoughts, people - anything can inspire a picture in my head, but not all ideas make it onto canvas or paper.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a few things, some watercolours, a pen & ink drawing and I have a couple of oil paintings in progress. I am also working on a project with Shinod Akkara Parambil, an artist who I met online, and then in Russia at an art symposium. We had discussed doing a joint show months ago, and then after meeting in Russia decided turn the idea into reality.
In an ideal world what work would you be doing?
I would be working full-time as an artist and travelling to meet artists in other countries. I would also like to do some sculpture at some point.
What is your biggest frustration as an artist?
I try not to dwell on frustration as it just gets me down, I try to look upon life as a series of lessons, and if something doesn't go the way I want, there is a reason for that and I will find another solution that may end up being better for me in the end!
What is your biggest pleasure in art?
When someone really "gets" my work because I don't always know myself where a work has come from.
Have you a preferred medium ? If so what is it & why?
I work in 3 mediums - oil, pen & ink, and watercolour, and it depends on my mood which is the favourite! I have also recently begun using charcoal again and really enjoying that!
What or who helped/ or inspired you to become an artist ?
My art teacher Alex Young in Tain Royal Academy. Up till then I had been discouraged from taking art at exam level, and then when I changed schools, he really encouraged me to take art further and after 3yrs of school and doing a portfolio, I found myself at art school!
Did you receive any formal art education? If so was it a good or bad experience?
I did a 4 yr BA hons course - I enjoyed college but did struggle sometimes - one tutor in particular really knocked my confidence, but there was another, Frank Convery who really opened my mind to imaginative work.
What sort of hours do you work at your art?
I work full-time with art & framing, but there are times when it really takes over and I have to be in the studio to get the ideas down.
What is your studio space like ?
It is a converted loft space in my home - I am really lucky as it is well lit & north facing. My only gripe is I would like more upright wall space so I can do some larger works!
What else other than art is important in your life?