Artist Interview – Jo Frost
This weeks artists interview is with Swansea based Artist Jo Frost.
” Living close to the South Gower coast line, where better can I gain inspiration and energy. I attained a BA in Fine Art, followed by a teaching career that culminated when I had reached the position of Head of Art. I then was fortunate enough to be able to finish teaching and follow a full time career as a professional Artist. As a result my paintings have developed to where I am today, expressing with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. Using plaster, acrylic, oil and resin to create my interpretation of the ocean in its many moods and colours. For the past 15 years I have settled in Wales, with a brief stay in Somerset, and love every day of it. “
Firstly how is the lockdown affecting your work?
The anxiety caused by the virus, the claustophic feeling of not being free to go out regularly and walk the coast line, initially made me unable to work, too uptight and unsettled, anxious.
However, as time has gone on, I have been using the time to experiment with other materials, and develop my use of oil paint, and look at the meaning behind subject matter that I select. Open spaces with an interest in creating a sense of place, large skies particularly, small buildings in open spaces ie at Rhosilli, a light house, amongst a few others not carried all the way through yet.
Where do you get most of your inspiration?
Usually the open ocean where I live, my surroundings when I walk the coastline, as well as memory and images I have accessed and have permission to use.
My inspiration at the moment is a reflection on how I am feeling in that I am needing open spaces, the fixation with small isolated buildings on reflection could be my unconscious mind leading the direction – only just realised this as I write this!
I also have a lovely array of handmade pastels and oil paint as well as acrylics which is my usual chosen medium. I have a degree in sculpture and I have also felt drawn to see things in a sculptural way – so am consciously applying this to my work in a more experimental way too. Seeking alternative ways to draw and depict using what I have around me.
Instagram has become a main source of influence for me too, finding new diverse artists and expressions, very much 21Century method!
Do you prefer to work outside/in your studio/a mixture of both?
A mixture of both
Do you have a favourite painting that you have done? If so which one?
“The Window” in oil paint.
It is my favourite as it is the painting in which I gave way to trying new things and enjoying the process. I discovered what was important to me ie the boat house at Kitchen Corner, near worms head, Rhosilli. The building depiction and focus in this work began to be so much more important than the detail around, the open space where this isolated abandoned building is. I have called it the window as this is an aspect that stands out to me, we cannot see beyond the window, it is the undisclosed space. For me this was a new way of depicting the area, that was true to me and my style of work.
The oil paint is applied in thin coats and applied and then knocked back to give the worn look of the overall work.
I have produced numerous pastel sketches of it too.
Where/ or what is your favourite place/subject to paint?
The sea has been my main focus for many years, it is a place that I am happiest, and the enormity of the ocean and our inability to tame it makes it so special to me, a force to itself. The movement and turmoil has been a focus of mine, choosing and drawn to paint and depict the essence of the ocean, the movement and its wild spirit rather than a mere seascape. This time in lock down has given me time to understand that it is not just the sea I miss, it is the open spaces, the freedom from the everyday bustle of built up areas, human activity. The sky, the place the emotions it all conveys to me I have come to realise are equally important to me, and I am now exploring this further. The mediums and techniques still being textured and surface and evocative of place – though perhaps less concerned with movement is where I am at at the moment.
How do you find titles for your paintings, does the idea come before or after?
Previously titles have been an addition to the paintings I make, a way to describe the image. “The Window” shows a change in this, the window is a fundamental part of the painting; the title is part of the work if this makes sense?
I’ve also been using my time to do some observation work of subjects such as fresh fish that I’ve bought from the fishmongers who remains open in Mumbles. The studies are titled to describe the type of fish and the subject matter simply.
Who’s your favourite artist/artists?
Too many to list. A few main ones…
Lucian Freud for his sculptural use of paint, and how his work developed over the years
Anselm kiefer – everything about his work ie meaning, materials, rawness, emotional connection to subject matter, evocative
Anthony Gormley – simple and powerful.
Bill Viola contemporary sensual immersive work, very powerful and engaging
Graham Sutherland – his use of line and style just so unique and grounded
Doris Salcedo for meaning and expression, evocative work.
Which is the favourite piece of art by another Artist that you own?
Pietro Psaier pop art work, “Human Wreckage” an artist surrounded in controversy – said to have worked with Andy Warhol, but recognised for a while then disputed as a fake, The work never the less is a fab piece of original pop art, and I love it
Do you listen to music while you paint? If so what kind of music?
Sometimes but not always as it can stop my focus, concentration– male opera singers are a favourite !
What could you not do without in your studio?
“things” that I have collected from beaches and places
What does your studio space look like?w
A mess, its too small, but there is an order to it.
How do you feel your work has changed over the years?
Become more expressive and personal – to me
Is there a particular time/place or movement you feel influenced you the most?
No not really, though I am more drawn to expressive art
What other work have you done apart from being an Artist?
Teacher of art, Head of Art. worked on a kibbutz in Israel — lots of other mixed stuff as you do as a mother, and artist to pay bills etc.
What is the best thing about being an artist for you?
Its never finished, there is always more to explore and do
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
What sort of painting are you working on at the moment?
Small pastel exploratory pieces, & some gifts for those who are helping us ie NHS, etc.
Can you show us some images from your sketchbook? Recent sketches and a finished piece maybe?
What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
Oil paint and unison soft pastel.