I’m discovering quite a few gallery exhibiting artists with BFA’s and residencies in their background turning to Etsy or other online retail art sites like the more upscale 1000 Markets. These artists may still be in the gallery and museum system, but for smaller works they’re using online retailers and can often supplement their ‘straight’ income through these means. You’re probably all familiar with the Daily Painters or Painting a Day sites, but most are traditional representational painters who rarely vary their subject matter.
I met Victoria Veedall on Etsy, where I’m selling smaller works as well. I was searching out painters to put in a Treasury; a promotional tool that members can use to showcase their ‘favorites’.
Victoria’s work caught my eye with its subtle references to Turner, vivid and almost technicolor palette, and loose interpretation of landscape. She has a BFA in painting, trained at the private L’Ecole Albert Defois in France and went to grad school at NYU. She’s been an artist in residence twice at the Vermont Studio Center, in 2001 and 2008, a 2004 Kamiyama Artist in Residence at Tokushima Prefecture in Japan and in 2002 she was in residence at the Chitraniketan Residency in Kerala, India. Our interview was conducted via email.
fd You seem to create series of works; is this typically the way in which you work? I also noticed that many of your paintings are quite small. Do you have a preference for size or does it influence how you work?
VV I enjoy working in a variety of sizes from 4 x 5 inches to 48” x 60 inches. You can see some of the large paintings on my website. Going from big to small and back and forth between sizes keeps me challenged. Typically the smaller paintings are made first as a sort of “note” about a place or idea/feeling and then I re-work them into larger paintings. I like to modify an idea over and over – in different sizes and color relationships each one seeks to evoke a different feeling.
Temple Walk 2007 oil on canvas, 38 x 40 inches
fd Can you discuss your current work and thought processes. What is the context of your work, and your ideologies as a painter?
VV As I begin a new series, I look through my photos and/or small paintings to pick images that interest me. Some images I will manipulate in Photoshop changing the colors or using filters. I like experimenting with Photoshop. I use the photos as a source of inspiration, not to copy directly. When I am ready to start painting I begin with a loose under-painting and build up the surface through successive layering and glazing. I react to subsequent layers until an image emerges. I never know exactly what the painting will look like in the end. My preferred medium is oil on canvas, wood panel or paper. I work with brushes and palette knives. I like to think that I am creating abstractions of the landscape that transcend the traditional sense of landscape painting. By dissolving the landscape, leaving only what I consider to be the essence of nature, it becomes more alluring. I continually examine the effects of light and form in the natural world.
fd Your work reminds me a little of Childe Hassam, mixed up with Turner, Albert Pinkham Ryder and Wolf Kahn. Who are some of your influences?
VV My work is often compared to Turner. I wasn’t really interested in Turner until so many people mentioned the similarities that I thought I should take a look. I guess Turner was always in the background after having studied him in art history. I think Wolf Kahn is a master with his use color.
First Light 2009 oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Days End 2008 oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
fd Do you work spontaneously or is there a set time that you devote to the paintings on a daily/weekly basis?
VV I believe in having set studio hours. I think of painting as a full time job. My studio hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10-4. I, also, spend a fare amount of time on marketing and promotion of my work. I have to have goals to work towards.
fd How do you stay current, or is that important to you. Do you visit galleries and museums on a regular basis, or travel to view art and cultural events?
VV I do go to as many exhibitions as possible in San Francisco at museums and galleries. I also look at art when on vacation or when visiting relatives in Houston, my hometown, or New York City with my in-laws. I subscribe to several art magazines: ArtNews, Art Week, Art in America.
fd Some artists suggest that the studio is too private for them, that they require a social forum for their work. Does networking with other artists and developing community have much bearing on your life as an artist and if so, how does it inform your work and process?
VV I actually prefer to spend all of my time in the studio. However, I do think it is important to be a part of a community and I am in a couple of artist groups. One is a critique group for woman artists and the other is a drawing group where we give ourselves assignments to complete each month and then talk about them at monthly meetings. In both groups we share different opportunities, etc. I do enjoy the camaraderie of other artists.
fd You have a BFA, have been artist in residence at the esteemed Vermont Studio Center and have exhibited widely around the world. Yet you choose to sell your work at Etsy, the online ‘handmade’ shopping retailer. Can you explain what led you to the site and how you promote your work? Have online sales been successful or do you sell better in galleries?
VV A friend of mine suggested I try Etsy. She had been a member for a year and had some sales. After doing a lot of research on Etsy and looking at countless shops, I decided to showcase my smaller works. I thought they would be more in line price wise with other artists. I sold well the first week and then it dropped off. I think it takes quite a bit of work like relisting and adding new pieces continuously. So far galleries and art consultants have been better for sales for me. However, I have not been with Etsy very long so I will definitely give it time and try to make it a success.
PR Perspective 2009 oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches
fd What are some of your long term goals for your painting career?
VV Gosh I have so many! Here are just a few:
First I would like to have a larger studio with great light. Second I would love to be exhibiting and selling so much that I would need an assistant to help out with office work and marketing. Third, would be an artist in residence at Yaddo.
Yellow Dawn 2007 oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches
Victoria Veedall’s work can be found on her own website and at her Etsy shop, below: