Artist in Focus: Angela Dierks
Angela used to work in higher education then turned to psychotherapy and art. Her pieces are indeed calming in nature while using beautiful saturated colours. Impressions of her garden and nature in general are where she usually starts from. Just as getting to know someone, her pieces take time to make, contain numerous layers and bring something out with each viewing.
Internationally successful, Angela has several paintings available here.
When did you start to make art?
I discovered my love of painting 11 years ago when I bought a set of acrylics for my 5 year old daughter to experiment with. My daughter wasn’t particularly interested but much to my surprise I realised that I was. My first degree was in literature so in terms of the creative process I always saw myself as a potential writer. Once I started to splash paint onto paper I was hooked. Now I am quite addicted to painting. If too many days go by without painting I get restless.
Were you surprised when you found yourself drawn to making art? How did your family react?
Yes, it had never occurred to me that making art would be so much fun and would be so utterly absorbing. At school I didn’t learn much more beyond potato prints in my art classes and I really struggled with drawing. My focus was always on writing and all my dreams as a younger woman were always about getting ‘that’ novel published one day. So picking up tubes of paint and a brush felt quite alien initially but not for long. The reward was more instant and immediate -this was partly what I enjoyed about painting. Unlike writing the process of painting was a lot more freeing and joyful for me.
Initially family and friends were a little surprised and sceptical about my new found enthusiasm. However, I would not have persevered if it had been for the continuous encouragement and shared excitement that I got and continue to get from people close to me. My regular critics, ie my parents and my teenage daughter tell me they are proud of me – how much more could one wish for in terms of a vote of confidence.
Can you name a painting that is a source of inspiration for you?
A huge influence in the past have been Gerhard Richter’s Cage paintings, a homage to John Cage. Richter was listening to his music while painting his monumental canvases. I remember flicking through a magazine and coming across an image of Cage 6: my heart literally skipped a beat. I was completely taken in by the vibrancy of the piece and Richter’s use of colour and texture. When the paintings were shown a few years later in the Tate Modern and I found myself in the gallery room on my own in it felt akin to a spiritual experience. The paintings moved me. I walked away feeling inspired to work on pieces that have a strong emotional impact on the viewer.
In terms of the artistic process the painting has inspired me to play more liberally with the tools of an artist and enjoy the process of applying paint, manipulating paint on the canvas, erasing paint and re-applying it again. Painting is layering; each new layer adds a new depth to the painting, a kind of history if you like.
How much planning do you do before you start on your work?
Most of the planning for a new piece takes place on an unconscious level. I frequently dream of painting and wake up in the morning with an idea for a new piece. Each painting has been inspired by numerous images I have seen previously. Since I started painting I am a more active viewer. For example, I may notice an interesting pattern in a room while watching a TV programme. I would pause the programme and take a photo. Once I sit down to start a new piece of work all these conscious and unconscious processes inform the object that starts to take shape on the canvas.
What do you feel the aim of your art is?
I think my work is less about trying to achieve an overall aim – like a particular message, say – but more about connecting with others through the medium of art. I feel I have achieved this aim when the viewer tells me that they have had an emotional response to one of my pieces. Many a time viewers commented on my use of colour and their delight in my palette – hearing this in turn makes me feel proud of my work. For me art is more about stirring the heart and the soul.
What do you do when you don’t know how to proceed in a work?
I let it be. If there is not ease in the flow I usually leave the work for a while and return to it later. I have tried to wrestle with pieces, stubbornly trying to get the painting to do what I want it to do but I have usually lost the battle. I am pleased with work where the brush or palette knife guided me rather than the other way around – these are the paintings that I feel have turned out best.
What part of the working process do you enjoy most?
The happy accident. I learned most from making ‘mistakes’, for example accidently scraping off paint and realising that Scraffito adds to the piece. I love learning new techniques through experimentation and experience; I get very excited when I discover a new way of moving oil on the canvas. My favourite tool has been an ice scraper. I don’t use brushes anymore these days; most of the work is done with a palette knife which freed me as an artist. The great thing about working as an artist is that you can always learn and improve; you are never at a stage where you can say ‘I am there’. It’s a constant flow with new discoveries on the way.
When I a work I am completely immersed in the process; hours can fly by and I wouldn’t have noticed. I love the sense of being lost in the work while also be very focused on what I do. Painting is partly a meditative and mindful process for me.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Most responses to my work are instant and intuitive. Viewers are usually drawn in by vivid colours in my work. My response to art is largely intuitive rather than being of an intellectual nature. I value viewers exclaiming that they love a piece without going into too much analysis as to why they have this response.
I have also experienced the stereotypical response of ‘my son could paint this’ voiced by a viewer who could not relate to abstract art. Unfortunately, I could not think of a quick fire response at the time.
Do you have a good answer to ‘My child could have painted this?’
I asked my friends via Facebook what their retort may be. Here are the responses. The first one would have been mine but I like the other ones better. Feel free to choose one:
Wow, you clearly have a very talented child.
That’s lovely, you must be so proud.
I look forward to their first exhibition.
But they didn’t.
Then why doesn’t s/he? (love this)
It must be wonderful to have such a talented and creative child
If you could spend a day with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
There are so many inspiring artists; it’s really hard to choose. It probably would be Richter so that I could learn more about his process and decision making. I often struggle with knowing when to stop. I would be curious to know what compels Richter to make the decision to destroy by painting over a layer of paint or to scratch off existing paint.
I was born in Germany but came to London at the age of 22 – having lived here longer now than my country of birth. I would also be interested in Richter’s thoughts on contemporary Germany. While not obviously a political painter – his paintings of West Germany’s Baader-Mainhof gang excepted – I would be curious to hear him talk about Germany having broken traditions in art and possibly in life.