Today I am so excited to share with you my latest Artists to Know interview, this time with Australian abstract expressionist painter, Clair Bremner! I first came across Bremner's work when we both became members of the online creative group headed by Natasha Wescoat - "Dream Crafters Mastermind Group". I fell in love with her style and was just overall impressed with how professional she was! Her work is one of a kind, the high quality photos of her paintings are gorgeous, she writes blog posts that are both entertaining and informative - the more research I did to prepare for this interview, the more amazed I became with how much passion she puts into her career! So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Clair Bremner! :)
How would you describe yourself/your painting style?
"I am an abstract expressionist painter inspired by nature and the landscape near my home in the Yarra Valley, Melbourne"
If you could tell the world one thing with your art, what would it be?
Breathe fresh air and admire the beauty of nature whenever you can. Also, look closer. The details are the best parts.
Where is the place that you feel most inspired? Why?
In the outdoors. I love being surrounded by trees and nature. It doesn’t matter what environment, whether it’s the beach, the bush, or the garden, as long as I’m outside I’m happy.
What is your favorite surface to paint on?
I work mostly on stretched canvas, I occasionally paint on watercolour paper but stretched canvas is my favourite.
Favorite brand of paint?
I use three main brands, Hydrocryl (which is a fantastic Australian company), Liquitex and Golden Acrylic.
Clair Bremner Artwork
What caused the shift from photography to painting?
I was a photographer for almost 8 years and I really enjoyed it at the time, however I knew it wasn’t my passion. It was a creative outlet that served the purpose of making money, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do most. I have always been a painter and after a show that I took part in with my Mother back in 2014, I received quite a lot of interest in my work which spurred me onto keep painting and it has let to it becoming my full time job over the last 18 months.
Describe an average work day. Do you have a routine or is every day different?
It varies quite a bit, surprisingly I probably spend less time actually painting than anything else. Most of my time is taken up with admin type tasks. But an average day would involve taking the kids to school, stopping in to the gym for an hour, coming home and spending a few hours answering emails, doing social media tasks (scheduling Facebook posts, blog posts etc), or uploading new work onto online galleries, invoicing clients, doing book keeping tasks. I’ll then head into the studio after lunch and get to work on whatever task I need to do. Sometimes that’s starting or finishing a painting, other times it’s varnishing or painting the edges and sometimes its packaging up sold paintings ready to be shipped. After that it’s time to get the kids, do the dinner/night time routine then hop into bed. I tend to spend more time painting on the weekends because I find I have more time to get really stuck into a piece without having to stop and start due to normal daily interruptions.
How did you get your stocked in so many places? Did they pursue you or vise versa?
A little bit of both really. The first retail store to stock my work was Established for Design in Malvern and in that case, Anna contacted me first. She saw my work in a show and offered to stock some paintings in her store. Once I had one store stocking my work I found I was a little more confident when it came to approaching other stores and galleries myself. I approached lots of different stores over several months, some said yes, some said no, which is perfectly fine. It’s a pretty competitive industry, there are lots of artists out there all trying to get representation and stores can really only stock so many artists at a time. So you need to approach people with the understanding that they will most likely say no, not because you’re work is bad but because they just don’t have room or it doesn’t suit their existing stock. Right now, I’m actually pretty happy with the number of stockiest I have at the moment and I’m not looking for anymore.
Many artists say they spend 50% of their time creating art and the other 50% marketing themselves. If you could break up your work day into percentages based off of how much time you spend marketing your business and creating – how would that look?
I would say it’s probably more like 60 % marketing 40% creating to be honest. I think that once you have your technique under control and you are creating cohesive, high quality work consistently, the creating part is pretty easy and really doesn’t require much effort. So you can afford to spend more time on the marketing side of things, which does take up a lot of time, effort and money.
Some weeks, I’ll only pick up a brush or pencil on one day…while at least once every single day I will be doing something marketing related (even if that’s just writing a newsletter, blog post or sharing something on Facebook).
When you’re still learning and developing your individual style and techniques, you spend a lot more effort and energy just trying to work out what the heck you are doing that you don’t have time to market. And that’s the way it should be. I believe that you’re not going to be ready to market yourself as a professional artist, until creating your art becomes second nature and no longer requires all your brain power.
What advice do you have for those who want to pursue a career in the arts? What do you wish you had known before you got started?
I think it’s important to find a style that is unique to you. There are a lot of trends in art that come and go, and lots of artists jump onto those trends to try and cash in while they are popular. But this is not going to sustain you in the long term, especially if what you are creating is very similar to what many other artists are creating. You need to develop a style that is recognizable as your own and pave that way forward so you become known for THAT thing.
The one thing I wish I had known before I started was to source the best quality products and materials you can from the beginning. I use to use much cheaper canvases when I was starting out and I sometimes cringe when I think about them now. They were often slightly warped and the quality of canvas was very poor. I now use much more expensive and better quality canvas, it’s more of an investment up front but it is well worth it in the long run.
What do you think is the hardest thing about being a painter?
The hardest part about being an artist/painter would be the irregular income. You never really know from one month to the next how much income you will make…if any! And you often spend a lot of time waiting for payments to clear or commissions to be paid. If you have a partner who is earning an income as well then it is easier, but I know many artist need to work a side job to keep afloat during the quiet periods. Art materials are also very expensive, often most of the profit from a sale goes right back into buying more materials to create more paintings, so it’s tricky to get ahead.
You are an artist, a mother, the owner of dogs, chickens and so many other pets! - How do you maintain work/home life balance?
Thankfully my kids are all school aged now, so I have quite a bit of time during the day to get work done. My studio is also in my home which means that even when I am working I’m still available to them whenever they need me. I also make sure that after school time is always free from “work” so that once they come home from school, I’m not hiding in my studio all evening. That’s family time, we have dinner, watch movies and chill out together.
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Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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