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  • Stashia Smyrichinsky

Interview with Danielle Creenaune

1. What are some of the trials and errors you have had to overcome in your journey as a professional artist?

Most of the journey as a professional artist has felt like a huge trial. Starting out after university there was little support or direction to help in navigating the art world. Having the first few shows was challenging professionally and economically. Social media didn’t exist then, whereas now there are many different avenues for artists to get exposure and gain following.

The experience of living abroad for 18 years was very fulfilling but it also posed challenges for my practice. On a positive note it opened up a whole new world of artists, networks, opportunities and ways of working however, it was hard always starting over, finding and adapting to new workspaces, suppliers and forging new relationships, especially when there are language and cultural barriers at play. Economic security has been a constant element, often forcing me to seek other sources of income at different times to live and support my art practice - in the end all of the professional experiences even those which are non art-related are enriching and add to your skills set.

Having a child while being a full time artist has been challenging and has changed the way I work for the better. Having less time for art made me more determined, encouraged me to take more creative risks, have less doubts and trust in my decisions. I became more organised, better at admin, more productive and the work has more purpose.

There isn’t much I would consider as an error and if there was I would just notch it down to a learning experience of what not to do again! Learning through errors and obstacles can be a great way of getting out of your comfort zone and having to problem-solve, resulting in new approaches to your practice.

2. What was the first thing that informed and/or inspired you to know that you wanted and/or needed to become a maker?

I’m not sure if I can name a specific event or thing which made me realise this. I enjoyed making art when I was in high school and never wanted to stop. I think it’s a question of following what felt right, accepting that I enjoyed making art and then finding a way to continue making that possible. I have always felt a much better version of myself when I’m making art. It helps me make sense of my place in the world and to express ideas and feelings that I can’t necessarily put into words.

3. What is your favorite aspect of the magical alchemy that is lithography?

All of the lithographic process is magical to me. There is a flow between the process, materials and image making. It’s very tactile, sensory and requires awareness. The materials have a history, the stone has had a life before you existed, there’s a sensitivity with marks and meditation in the pace of working, an attention to detail and patience required. It offers a very direct way of making painterly and graphic marks within printmaking and possesses a rich gamut of tones and textures. I will never stop learning and improving when it comes to lithography. Around 5 years ago I also started using plywood as a plate for the lithographic process. It’s a technique called Mokurito/Mokulito originating in Japan but not a lot is published on the process. I set about working it out for myself and have enjoyed stepping back into research mode, conducting tests and experiments to see how materials behave. There is a freedom and also a frustration in not having the process all laid out before you in a manual. I approach processes with curiosity, find out what works best for my imagery and then push and refine until I’m content with the results..

4. How does the play of negative and positive space inform your compositions, does this affect the balancing act of drawing materials used within the artwork?

I work with line and form and how they operate within spaces, so negative and positive space are at play constantly. With the lithographic drawing materials, I use a range of textures within the image, solids, washes, crayons and scratching. I try to not to overcrowd the image therefore allowing the individual elements to have their space to be. One of the attractive qualities of printmaking can often be the layering and overprinting of textures and I try not to fall into this. I work instinctively with the aim to cut out unnecessary noise in the landscape and allow for simplicity to speak.

5. How does the interaction of spontaneous gestural mark-making inform the dance between abstraction and representation when creating landscapes?

Spontaneous gestures make way for the unexpected, therefore they can transform something which starts as being representational in the mind into something more abstract on the paper/plate. ‘“What I like to suggest about landscape are elements or sensations felt such as the quality of the light, movements and change. I start with some line drawings and quick sketches in the bush/nature and then translate these into ink drawings in the studio. These drawings only serve as a guide, maybe a suggestion of composition, then something new is born, but the memory of that place is still very alive and conscious,” When I finally draw on the plate, I don’t try to copy the sketches, they just inform the main composition and through spontaneous mark-making the elements of chance and more abstract forms come into play.

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