It’s often struck me while meandering among trees how sculptural many of the natural forms are, and how aesthetically pleasing the dappling of shade and sun, how exquisite the precision of a leaf or bark motif.
Artist Grace Aza-Selinger takes this delight in forest settings a step further, by turning her glimpses of trees into mixed media works of art that draw you in, time and again.
Grace never had any doubts about her ambitions in this vein. “I don’t remember not wanting to be an artist,” she comments. “It has always been something I knew very strongly about myself.”
As a teenager, Grace battled to overcome low self-esteem. “It took me a while to gain the courage to really pursue my goal whole-heartedly,” she comments. “It was the best decision to go to Falmouth to do the Foundation course there. I loved every minute of it and went on to have a big solo show in ‘The Biscuit Factory’ in Bermondsey. I would say that as an artist you have to create your own luck, really put yourself out there and be confident about it.”
She adds: “My family and friends are very supportive of my work. I think it can be hard if you don’t have people around you wanting you to do well and progress in your career.”
I can’t help but wonder if this shyness contributed to Grace’s passion for trees. “I think my love of trees stems from my childhood and magical walks around Windsor Park. It is a sense of getting lost in a forest and the sense of exploration.”
There’s often an impression of water in Grace’s works too, sometimes overtly so that light and branches seem reflected. I find that looking at them, I can conjure up the damp, rich smell of woodlands, and that sense of moisture hanging in the air.
“It is always a really satisfying feeling when you have laboured over a painting from conception to completion and someone else responds to the same qualities that initially inspired the work,” she says. “For example in one of my more abstract pieces, someone said it reminded them of going underwater diving and looking up at the light. It was the same quality of being in a place that is still and quiet whilst mesmerised by something beautiful that I wanted to evoke. My friend who is a singer described the creative process in the same way.”
A wide mixture of things drive Grace’s work. “Sometimes it can be seeing an exhibition where I really respond to the images. Often in my work it’s being surrounded by nature and seeing something that really strikes me.”
Grace also likes to defy expectations in her work, often using unconventional materials. “I enjoy using spray paint – it has a great consistency and is wonderful for blending colours together. I think it also adds an immediacy to my work.”
Grace says that the observed and the imagined come together naturally in her work. “The more practice you have at observing the more you are able to imagine and invent different qualities in your work,” she says. “Forests very beautiful places. When you look up at the trees you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Find Grace and her work at www.graceaza-selinger.com.
Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.