"Life is too short not to do what you love. Art is my ‘raison d’être’, my passion in life! My artwork is a personal reflection of my experiences and emotions."
Canadian Artist, Kristen Neudorf
The very process of creating inspires me. Nature and music are my companions as concepts flow from inspiration and take form. A well-worn chair in the window of a Paris shop, the flowing lines of the female form, the abstract meanderings of a traveller on the Scribbly Gum eucalyptus tree are but a few of the influences I draw from.
Like every artist who is gifted with a dark night of the soul, unforeseen events endowed me with an invitation to create from outside my comfort zone. A new way of creating my art emerged. I became technically stronger as the creative process beckoned me to evolve, and breakthrough to another level. I began to feel my way through my work and my actions became instinctive.
I continue to work this way today. My work is a combination of form and control merged with expression, intuition and passion."
"Poppies", Kristen Neudorf, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 40.5cm x 50.8cm, 2017
What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
I have always had a desire to create. I began oil painting when I was 10 years old and I fell in love with it. There was no other career that I wanted to pursue; I always wanted to be an artist.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I would describe my style as a combination of contemporary realism and abstract expression.
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
I always strive to strengthen my technical skills and push my ideas. I continue to take workshops with artists that I admire to get inspiration and to keep my mind open to different approaches to painting. I can see my work becoming stronger technically and conceptually as long as I remain curious and open to all possibilities.
"French Landscape I", Kristen Neudorf, Oil & Gold Leaf on Panel, 15 x 20cm, 2017
What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
I am inspired by my personal experiences and emotions. The very process of creating draws me to the easel. I love the sensory experience of painting: the beautiful colours, textures, the feel of the paint and I even enjoy the smell of oil paint! I also love to see how my work evolves as I work on it.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
All of the above! My family and friends have always encouraged and supported me in my artistic practice. I have also had several incredibly inspiring teachers throughout my life that I often think of while I am working, recalling words of encouragement and direction.
When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
Oil is definitely my medium of choice. My brushes of choice are Escoda Hog Bristle (flats and filberts) and Raphael Imitation Mongoose (filberts).
"Hannah & Buttercup II", Kristen Neudorf, Oil on Canvas, 61cm x 76.2cm, 2017
When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
Sometimes the simple beauty of an object inspires my work. It may be the colour of it, or the shape, or how it makes me feel. Recently I have been painting portraits. The challenge of capturing a person’s emotion, and the essence of their personality has drawn me to pursue portraiture.
Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
I typically sketch out my ideas, take photos for references and make notes about what I want to achieve. I decide on the size of canvas I want to work on and begin with a neutral under painting before I add colour and texture. However, depending on my mood, I sometimes work very spontaneously and expressively, and I just paint how I feel.
"French Landscape III", Kristen Neudorf, Oil & Gold Leaf on Panel, 2017
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is it more a case of when the moment is right you work?
I don’t have a set routine but I like to do something creative and productive everyday if possible. I am also an art instructor, so if I am not teaching, I will be in my studio painting, sketching out ideas or doing some prep work for my classes. I also like to read about other artists and explore different techniques.
When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?
If I am working on a commission, I focus on that piece, especially if there is a tight deadline. Otherwise, I will have a couple pieces on the go.
How has your art evolved to be where it is today?
I feel that I take more risks with my work now, than I did when I was younger. As a result, it is more expressive, experimental and technically stronger as I keep learning and practising.
Which of your artworks are you most proud off?
The first portrait I did of my niece in 2016. “Hannah and Buttercup”. It was a great challenge and learning experience for me and as a result, very satisfying.
"Hannah and Buttercup", Kristen Neudorf, Oil on Canvas, 2017
Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?
Yes! I really admire Alyssa Monks and Jennifer Gennari. They are both amazing artists, with such skill and passion. I am always in awe when I see their work… it is breathtaking. I also had the opportunity to learn from each of them at different workshops in New York. I learned so much from them and gained so much inspiration. They are also incredibly kind and generous people.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
I think the Impressionist period would have been so exciting to be a part of. Artists captured light and movement in such a glorious new way.
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
There is so much great art in the world today and with that comes more competition and pressure. Artists have to continue to believe in themselves and be persistent with their goals, no matter what. They have to work hard to produce, promote and sell their work, acting as both a businessperson and a creator.
"Just Enough", Kristen Neudorf, Oil & Acrylic on Canvas, 46 x 61cm, 2016
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep an open mind to learning and exploring.
Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?
I am drawn to the style of Baroque Art. I enjoy the stories that the artists depicted through their paintings along with the rich colour, dramatic lighting and emotion.
We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?
I have never worked on paintings for years and years, but I have worked on paintings for months, and have felt that they just weren’t working, so I changed them dramatically. Years ago, I may have been afraid to drastically change a piece, but I feel that I am more willing to take risks with my work now. Some of my pieces go through quite a process of evolution. Sometimes it is hard to let go and to know when enough is enough, so I often leave a piece for a few days and when I come back to it, and don’t feel like I want to change anything, it is done.
"Blue Abstract I", Kristen Neudorf, Mixed Media on Panel, 20 x 15cm, 2016
Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?
I create purely for the sake of my personal expression. When my work is complete, I love for the viewer to interpret my work in his or her own way. I really admire artists that tell stories through their work or express their feelings about a particular cause.
When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?
I don’t have any upcoming exhibitions, but I am looking at options and hope that will change soon! Once confirmed I will update you all.