– by Daniel Defendi
The charming and free-spirited Amme Donovan has unveiled her latest work in a new exhibition located at the Basement Gallery in Perth. Blending abstract styles and mediums, Amme creates soulful portraits which revisit what it means to be human. Amme kindly took some time out amidst her Melbourne travel plans to let us know a bit more about her work and the upcoming exhibition.
How do you think you would classify your own personal style?
I always find it kind of difficult to answer this – I guess a little neo expressionist meets street; meets whatever I fancy painting at the time. Some artists that I take inspiration from include Matisse’s still life works, Betty Woodman, Nora Wompi, Basquiat and Jan Billycan – I love aboriginal art.
I’ve noticed you prefer to work with acrylics, what are some of the other mediums you like to use?
Usually oil paint-sticks and oil pastels, on whatever I have or whatever I can find. I enjoy stretching my own canvases and building my own frames but I also love painting on pieces of wood or glass I find during junk-out. I also love ceramics and working on the pottery wheel and I can’t wait to begin doing more of that.
As you’ve gone through your career as an artist, how do you feel your art has changed?
It changes all the time but always goes back to the original style I had when I began painting a few years ago. I think it’s become quite a bit neater, which isn’t something I necessarily like; but at the same time I feel it’s also become a lot broader in subject matter and style. There’s a lot more room for experimentation now – I’m not so precious with each work and I’m more willing to take the chance of ruining it for the chance of creating something new and original.
Are there any recurring themes you like to bring into your work?
A lot of my works are self-portraits dealing with themes such as body image and isolation; but I usually leave their interpretation up to the viewer. I’m much more interested in hearing how they feel about it rather than how I tell them to feel. All of my paintings come from a weird emotional place that I find hard to convey any other way than painting. My works usually include plants and vases, wine and animals – I’m not really sure why, they are just things I like to paint.
On a typical day, what is your creative process like?
Always unplanned. I usually start with chunks of colour and go from there. When I’m painting I’m usually thinking about stories people tell me or nothing in particular – I’m never thinking solely about the painting or about its ‘meaning’. It’s more just about what feels and looks right. When I get about a third of the way through a painting I usually hate everything about it, and spend a lot of time staring at it and making small changes until I suddenly like it again and it’s finished. I keep a lot of journals which I fill every day and sometimes a painting will come from there as well.
In creative terms – there have been times where I go a few weeks to a couple of months without doing anything related to my arts practice. During these times I find it helpful to step away from painting completely and try not to force myself to do any painting that isn’t necessary. I use this time to update social media, list paintings for sale, organise my studio space and looks for materials I want to purchase. The main thing I find hard as an artist is social media exposure. I constantly need to force myself to update Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. I know how important these platforms are for exhibiting and selling work but at the same time I don’t really care about them that much and I can never be bothered.
What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?
I’m the most proud of the consistent sales of my work. Being completely self-taught and knowing I can sell a painting almost every month feels great. It’s always good to be reminded that people actually like what you are doing and want to give you money for it.
You can catch Emma’s latest exhibition at the Basement Gallery.
LOCATION: 115 Barrack Street Perth.
DATES: March 19 – 26
OPENING HOURS: 10am to 7pm