We had a chat with our current exhibitor, Rebecca Lodwig, to learn more about her process of creating striking portraits using both traditional and digital methods, along with mixed-media materials.
Are you local to the area?
“Yes, I’m originally from Cheltenham and then I went off to university and then came back to work. I worked in Tewkesbury for quite some time and now I live up the road so it’s really close to here.”
What do you think of the art scene in Cheltenham?
“I think it’s quite traditional and there’s a lot of classic styles that you see when you visit studios. There’s a lot of printmaking and traditional oil and acrylic painting. It’s interesting but I think there’s not a lot of new, different stuff going on.”
Do you work from a studio?
“No, I work from home. I have a little desk set up in the spare room. I don’t tend to need a lot of space so it’s quite easy to do it from anywhere really.”
How long have you had an interest in art?
“Always! I used to have a little Wendy house when I was eight, and I used to go out there to draw and listen to the radio.”
Is this your first public gallery exhibition?
“No, this is my first solo exhibition, but I’ve had work exhibited in different places since before I went to university. It’s nice to have a space just for me because although I do enjoy doing group exhibitions, it’s great to have it just for me!”
What are you hoping for with this exhibition?
“I’m hoping it creates interest in new and different styles of art in Cheltenham because it’s partially digital art and partially traditional styles, with the collage combined with the digital overworking and then doing the handwork on top with the gilding. It’s been nice to hear positive feedback from people as well, but it’s good to get it out there and see what people think of it.”
What inspired you to create this art?
“I’ve always done a collage-y technique, even through my drawing style. I’d go to the library and look at an encyclopaedia of fish or something like that and then try and take lots of images and put them all together. I’d always done a lot of portraiture, so I’d thought I’d try and do a different type of portraiture with a base of collage, rather than mainly drawn. Through lockdown, I started to do these little portraits of my favourite artists that inspire me and thought this would be nice to try on more general portraits of different people. I was looking at old photos of vintage women of the 1920s and 30s and tried to put a twist on them, bringing them into the 21st century in a way that they wouldn’t have been represented back then. If you stop and look at it, you might think “What’s that? Are those her eyes? Is she somebody’s friend?”. I think that’s impression you want to get from people.”
Are you influenced by other artists?
“Yes loads! I’ve got on the wall, Matisse, Chris Ofili and David Hockney. Their techniques of mark-making, using textures and patterns and different materials are inspiring. Other artists too like Joan Eardley...there are loads of people! I like anything that’s textural and just a little bit off. It’s something you just want to look at a bit more. Me and Paul love going to galleries and exhibitions, so we try and go to London as much as possible to see what the latest shows are.”
What is your process of creating a piece of art?
“I will go through loads of magazines and I have folders of faces and folders of eyes. So I’ll go through those and choose a face and then find some eyes that I like. I’ll have a play around with different bits of face and layer them and maybe try different compositions. I’ll then photograph them and have that on my iPad and start to overwork the image using brush tools on drawing programs, trying different colourways and textures. Then, I’ll get that printed onto a thick cotton rag. Once I’ve got that, I’ll do some gilding work over the top using gold leaf or silver leaf, figuring out where I want to put the highlights and draw attention to. Then after I’ve gone through that process, I’ll get acrylic inks and work lines over the top or create an extra pattern over the surface and decide what extra details I want to add.”
What advice do you have for other artists who looking to exhibit in a gallery?
“I think they should go and look at other solo shows and gallery spaces and see how other people are doing things. Maybe look online at other people’s work and see what kind of approach they’re taking - it’s good to investigate a bit. Also, be confident in what you’re doing, if you know it’s good, go with it and trust that you know it’s good!”
Are you enjoying exhibiting at Sixteen Gallery?
“Yes, I’m enjoying it very much. It’s a really nice space and I love the light coming in in the day. It’s in a great location as well with all the passers-by.”