Sunday, August 4, 2013

Interview with stencil artist Maria Harding

Stencil Portraits on reclaimed wood by Maria Harding

What is the concept behind ‘Chasing Rainbows’ and what can people expect to see in your exhibition?
Since starting Stencil Portraits in 2011, I’ve absolutely loved creating custom portraits of children, capturing a moment in time and making it into something that can be treasured for years to come as an artwork.  But with all my portraits, I’ve had to part with them as they’ve been commissions for other people. So I thought it would be really nice to create some of my own personal portraits and have a bit of fun with them by adding whimsical and imaginative aspects to them and giving myself the freedom of doing my own thing.

People can expect to see joyful paintings of kids all engaged in fun nostalgic activities all painted on variety of wooden pieces.

Can you tell us a bit about the artistic processes you use to create your work? 
It starts with an idea in my head, a memory from my childhood or often an idea sparked from something my 3 year old has said or done. Then I’ll take photos of my son and his friends playing and work out which of these can be interpreted into my idea. I start out in photoshop, working with initially a filter, then redrawing and reworking elements to get the desired two tone effect. Then I print it out and hand cut the stencils, before painting with acrylic paints. I should say this is also a bit of a team effort as my husband has helped me in cutting, sanding and sticking together the planks of reclaimed wood ready for me to paint on. I can’t saw in a straight line so without him, I think I would have had to stick with canvases!

What lead you to work with reclaimed materials, what do you enjoy about it?
I love the idea of taking something that has been discarded and destined for landfill and turning it into something beautiful, and wood has so much potential for this. I often see offcuts/ old furniture thrown out on roadsides in my neighbourhood and one day picked one up and thought it would make a great little ‘canvas’. Painting on wood, especially if its got alot of natural grain or is rough cut has its challenges but I also find it so much more rewarding than painting on canvas and enjoy working with the texture, I feel it adds more depth and character to a painting.

What inspires your work? 
I’m inspired by alot of different things and people. My little boy is hugely inspiring with his abundant energy and enthusiasm for life, and I find kids in general inspiring as they remind me of my childhood and all the imagined worlds and games I would play in. Artistically, I’m inspired by street art, abstract art, interior design and expressive portraiture. I’m a big fan of colour, and get inspired when I see nice colour schemes, in nature or otherwise. At the moment with it being winter, I”m loving the sunsets we get around Marrickville - there are some awe-inspiring colours out there.