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Behind the Brushstrokes: A Conversation with painter Abi Wason

Updated: Jul 2

Find out more about gallery artist Abi Wason.


Abi is a contemporary artist who translates emotions and stories onto canvas. Her work is a captivating exploration of colour, texture, and form. Each piece is a journey of discovery, bursting with rich hues and intriguing details.


Abi's artistic background is equally intriguing. After earning degrees in Media & Visual Arts and Contemporary Visual Arts, she embarked on a successful career with the BBC. However, the call to create proved irresistible, and during the pandemic she returned to her artistic roots. Now based in the far west of Cornwall, UK, she finds inspiration in the surrounding beauty and pours it onto the canvas.


More than just pleasing aesthetics, Abi's art aims to tell a story. Through her bold and joyful use of colour and mark-making, she invites viewers to explore the depths of her imagination and connect with the emotions woven into each piece.


Read on to find out what happens behind the brushstrokes!



What sparks your initial ideas for a piece? Is it a feeling, an image or something else entirely?

I feel like it’s a yearning. A yearning to explore and experiment and see what happens. Painting is like travelling somewhere new. You’re excited, it’s the unknown but you know it’s going to be an experience whatever the outcome. 

 

Do you have a specific routine or ritual to get into a creative head space?

Procrastination seems to be what I do best. I make several cups of tea and sit staring at the studio which is just across the yard from the kitchen. I know I want to get in there but it takes time…..

 



Do you have a plan for a piece before you start, or do you allow it to develop organically?

No I never have a plan. I feel that is the beauty of being a creative. For me, a plan feels too forced, too structured. I like to feel my way, see what unfolds. Often my mistakes and mishaps forge the way for the happiest of outcomes.


Do you have any lucky tools or materials you can't work without?

My standard go-tos are my acrylics, oils and oil sticks. I can’t work without them, and of course a myriad of paintbrushes. I can’t have enough paintbrushes. This is most probably down to me leaving them to go entirely hard so I need to buy more frequently.


What's your biggest "happy accident" that turned out amazing in a piece?

Tying a paintbrush to the branch of a tree and leaving a pool of black paint on the canvas. The wind did its wonderful thing and the result were hundreds of localised organic and wild brushstrokes. 


What's the most challenging part of your artistic process?

Overthinking. Oh and procrastination. If I could get over these two things I’d be in the studio early doors and smashing it I reckon. As it stands, it takes hours of tea drinking and head scratching before I’m in there.

 

Is there a hidden meaning or symbolism in your work that viewers might miss at first glance?

Yes. A lot. My work is my way of interpreting the world, both spiritually and mentally when words fail me. The universe and ‘the bigger picture’ is unquestionably something that I think about often. Life, death, love, grief, purpose, enlightenment. Without painting I have no idea how I would articulate these thoughts and feelings. I am also however, a firm believer in art being something that the viewer should be allowed to interpret for themselves. Meaning should be allowed to be found, enjoyed or pondered upon unabated. 



What piece of yours are you most proud of, and why?

Untold Tales was a turning point for me in terms of technique. It was the point in which I allowed myself to be honest and paint how I wanted to paint. I think before this I spent a lot of time painting and then ‘covering up’ what I had done. Maybe a bit of fear and a dollop of imposter syndrome thrown in for good measure? I don’t really know, but painting Untold Tales was really cathartic. I remember feeling nervous to put it out there but it was met with such a warm and positive reception that I think it sort of healed me. 

 

If you could have your art evoke one specific emotion in a viewer, what would it be?

Joy. 100%. There isn’t enough of it in the world. And we seem to lose that sense of unbridled joy that we had as children as we grow up, when life takes over and responsibility begins to weigh us down. I like to think that my paintings may inject a moment of happiness for someone when they are passing it.



Who are your artistic heroes, and how have they influenced your work?

This question has been bugging me! There are so many and for all sorts of reasons!  Lee Krasner, William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and more recently Sarah Boyts Yoder and Manuela Karin Knaut. All for colour and movement within their pieces. 


Does your art ever surprise you with where it ends up taking you?

Always. 

 

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

Probably running some kind of animal sanctuary. Actually a cattery. I love cats. I have four of them. 


What are your ‘must have’ snacks and drinks when in the studio?

Coffee and tea. I never eat in the studio. 


What's the best piece of artistic advice you've ever received?

There is no such thing as failure. 


You are hosting a dinner party and have invited 3 other artists (living or dead), who would be on the guest list?

Performance artist Marina Abramovic would have to be on the list. Her performance, The Artist is Present, brought me to tears and is forever etched in my memory. She must have so many amazing stories during her boundary pushing career. 


Leonard Cohen. A lyrical artist - he’d have to be on the list as well. His songs have been so influential in my life and have inspired me so much creatively. I was lucky enough to see him twice in concert. He was the most amazing guy.


I think lastly I’d have Picasso. I have memories of being dragged to Picasso museums in the south of France during the summer holidays by my parents, who were artists themselves. At the time it was just another artist and another exhibition, but Picasso’s work was a staple in our household when I was growing up. He’d have some great tales to tell. He can bring the absinthe.


Thank you for allowing us this insight into your work Abi! I have learned so much about your process!


Have a look at available works from Abi here.

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