Lately I've been exploring the artwork of Ella Smethurst via Instagram. I'm a bit of a frenetic instagram scroller...but I always slow down my scrolling and pause for my favourite subscriptions...Ella is one of them. I love how her work can be sketch-like and whimsical with soft watercolours one minute, and then vibrant and strong in acrylics the next. In parts dreamlike, in others (particularly portraits) beautifully realistic. I've always admired people who can draw and paint...it's a bit of a mystery to me...so watching Ella's progress and layering until she reaches the finished piece is one of my favourite aspects. She's had her work shown in places as far reaching as Dubai...and is represented locally by View Point Handmade Gallery. There are a series of three of her pieces in the current Small Works Art Prize...and the exhibition runs from September 6-22nd. My favourite of the series is Lost (see thumbnail)...and I dropped in to check out the opening night last Friday...so many amazing artworks. Make sure you check it out and vote for your favourite!
Ella was kind enough to allow me to pick her brain...she's just as lovely in person as you would imagine her to be :) Read on for her answers...
Have you always painted/sketched/been creative or is it something you've become interested in recently?
I spent a lot of time drawing growing up, starting from quite a young age. My Mum encouraged me at first, and then as I grew older I used to draw as an emotional release. I guess getting lost in a drawing was my escape. After high school I didn't draw for a long time, but when I finished studying three years ago I bought myself some oil paints and learned to mix colours. I haven't really stopped painting since!
What mediums / styles have you explored and what is your favourite lately?
I’ve explored a few mediums; oils, collage, watercolour, and currently I’m enjoying painting with acrylics. In terms of style, that is what I’m focusing on developing at the moment
Where do you get inspiration from...and when you find yourself in a "creative rut" how do you break out of it?
I get a lot of inspiration from looking at art and photos of people or animals that I find beautiful. The ‘creative rut’ thing is tricky. Sometimes I just make myself sit down and draw until something starts to work.
How do you find combining a day job with being an artist?
As with anybody and a hobby outside of work it is hard to find time and juggle commitments. I usually paint between 9-12pm at night. Having a stressful day at work doesn’t really affect my creativity, if anything sometimes I think it drives me to paint even more.
Tell us about where your work has been shown or used in the past?
This year I have branched out a lot more with my paintings. One highlight was having works flown to and shown in Dubai as part of the INDEX International Design Exhibition in the World Trade Centre. I also really enjoyed painting a website header for the beautiful blog She Sows Seeds by Emma Steendam.
I love seeing `in progress' posts on your blog/instagram...how have you found combining blogging/social media with your artistic side?
Using social media has played a big part in helping me grow and develop as an artist. I began with making a Facebook page and started to show some of my work and everything led on from that. Now, I also have a blog which I use as an online portfolio and I love seeing and being inspired by all the new art being shared on Instagram.
Who are some of your favourite artists?
Some of my favourite current artists are Ghostpatrol, Audrey Kawasaki, Amy Sol, Agnes Cecile, Andy Kehoe and Lee Minaj.
Where can we find your work currently?
Currently I have some paintings on show in the Small Works Prize at Viewpoint Handmade Gallery and I also have paintings for sale at Viewpoint in the downstairs shop. In the near future I will also have paintings for sale in the amazing new Geelong restaurant There There.
What are five new to-us blogs/instagrammers you love that we could add to our list of reads?
Favourite thing about living in Bendigo?
My favourite thing about Bendigo is how friendly and kindhearted the people are. I also love that there’s no traffic or long commutes!
I'm always interested to read how people balance working with their creative side...so it was really interesting to see that Ella finds a full-on day at work can fuel her creativity....which is the complete opposite of what happens with me! Next time I'm about to hit the couch for some mindless reality TV to balance out the craziness of my day, I should try to channel that towards being creative instead...maybe just with The Rachel Zoe Project on in the background ;)