Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.
The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.
Hazel and I have bonded over many things on Instagram: picture books, birds, picture books about birds, pom poms, craft glue, Elizabeth Gilbert, gratitude…. (Every Sunday we post about #4thingsilove. A simple way to share what we’re grateful for each week. You’re always welcome to join in.) She is a wonderfully supportive and warm creative soul. I have re-read this interview over and over. Hazel has so many wise sentiments to share. It is such an absolute pleasure to introduce you to my Instagram buddy, whom I now consider a friend, Hazel.
I am… Hazel, a mixed media artist who lives and works in Scotland.
Mixed media is a fancy way of saying that I make my work from all kinds of different materials. I am an enormous squirreler of things and I couldn’t make my work without these collections. I have a very patient family!
My studio is an old farm cottage. For a while it was home to the four of us, and various animals. It was a bit of a squeeze! Then we built a new house next door, and I found myself with plenty of space to store my materials: from traditional pigments, glazes and waxes, to old letters, wallpapers, fabrics and lace.
My creative process nearly always starts in my sketchbooks. When an idea has developed a bit, I launch out on great big linen canvases or, in complete contrast, on tiny wooden panels.
And then there’s sculpture. That brings a whole new world of possibilities.
(I’ll avoid disappearing down a vortex of explanation about the themes of my work – have a squint at my website if you are interested in some final results.)
I find inspiration… In ordinary things, surprising things –
an overheard snatch of conversation in a café, a travel ticket, a fragment of an old map, the shape of a bird, a story on a podcast.
Human beings are like pattern weaving machines – we are constantly making new connections, tying threads together, trying to make new meaning and understand the world. We see young children create like this naturally. As adults it’s very easy to lose the knack.
Crumbs, don’t get me started! I get a bit passionate about the importance of creativity.
Right now I am excited about … Stories, stories, and more stories; and in particular – picture books.
It’s turning out to be quite a shift in how I make art; I’m learning a new skill in illustration, exploring how to write for children, and the whole engineering process of creating a book that works.
Making books really matters to me – stories are how we make sense of our lives. And a picture book (if we are lucky) is the first exhibition we will ever see.
When I’m in a creative slump, I… This is the bit where I feel I’m meant to say that I go for a walk in the woods or read Virginia Woolf.
The truth is more along these lines:
- I get seized with the need to find an old toothbrush and clean the bathroom grouting.
- I think: now is the perfect time to suck the crumbs out of the cutlery tray with the hoover!
- A final resort – I roll up balls of silver foil and bounce them off my head.
So, perhaps don’t be guided by me on this one.
(Though I have to admit, the flock of birds in the photo started life as one of those balls of foil. So maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to knock that particular activity.)
Someone once told me… “Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.” Leonardo da Vinci
Having said all those things about my distractible self, those words help me a lot.
I love a deadline. I like a constraint. I think Leo was onto something there.
Like a child being offered a limited but exciting range of craft materials, it feels safer to start making something when we don’t feel overwhelmed.
My advice to you is … Here is a wee gem that made me smile: I’d ordered a whole bunch of seed packets. They arrived with the longest, most complicated list of instructions you can possibly imagine. At the end of the fourth page the advice finished like this:
“Above all, don’t be put off sowing a seed because you feel it may need special treatment – one thing you can be sure of – it won’t grow if left in the packet!”
You can’t argue with that.
So maybe take a chance. Start that scary, exciting, bewildering project. Jump in.
The seed might grow all wonky; it might die. Or, it might turn into a surprising delighting bloom that’ll knock your socks off.
You can find me at …
Instagram – for daily illustration and creative happenings
hazelvellacott.com – for my fine art practice
Visual Arts Scotland
Hidden Egg’s own website is coming very soon. It’s my new illustration imprint, and a place for all sorts of exciting creativity resources.