Meet the Maker - Lily Nicholson
If you have been to the studio lately, you may have noticed a couple of Lily's paintings dotted around, bringing a beautiful tranquility to the space. We thought we might share a little bit more about Lily with this 'Meet the Maker' interview.
Tell us a little bit about your background, what journey did you take to become the artist that you are today?
I completed a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in printmaking, in 2012, and spent the next few years making and exhibiting as much as I could. I found that as I put myself out there, approached other artists, galleries and creatives, more opportunities presented themselves. I’ll not pretend it’s been an easy road, but I’ve enjoyed the highs, taken on the lows and learned that hard work and perseverance are the best means of finding success. There’s been no short cuts, just a lot of hours spent reflecting on what I want and how to get there, and then putting those thoughts into action. The most important thing I’ve learned, is staying true to my own authenticity, and not getting caught up in what others are doing, or would like me to do.
Where are you based & what influences you and inspires you?
My partner and I bought a 50-acre bush property a few years back, close to where we both grew up, which is where we are now living and raising our son Dusty. It’s been a huge learning curve for me, living on the land, raising animals and realizing the hardships of this life. But seriously amazing. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t look around me and think how lucky we are to give our boy this opportunity.
As for inspiration, I take my cue from those who work hard to produce beautiful things. It could be a film, a song, an artwork, a piece of writing, a collection of clothing, a well-rounded career. Whatever it is, that knowledge that someone has worked tirelessly to produce something they are proud of, is what inspires me in turn to work harder, be more self-critical, produce better work and aim higher.
I have a wonderful bunch of creatively successful friends from all parts of Australia; artists; designers; photographers; furniture makers; writers; musicians; all amazing crafts people who encourage one another in their creative endeavours. It’s pretty special to be part of such a supportive network and be able to celebrate our successes together.
What does your process look like, how important is the process itself in what you do?
While I majored in printmaking at uni, and loved it, when I finished I didn’t have easy access to equipment to continue printing, so I took up painting. I started with acrylics on paper, but soon turned to watercolours and gouache. It was only when my mum reminded me of my Steiner upbringing and years spent using watercolours that I realized why I was so comfortable using this medium. I’ve tried working on canvas, linen, and wood, but there’s something about paper that I just can’t turn away from. The deckled edges perhaps? At times my process is quick, the making of a work just taking a few days, but I can take weeks, sometimes months working on a new concept. I’ll read (or more like listen to podcasts – who has time to read!?), look at some of my favourite artists throughout history, and make multiples of line drawings before I begin a new series. Researching and mixing colour palette’s is a huge part of my process.
I adore colour and have actually come to realise I am a little obsessive about it. The fact that combining two or three colours can have such a huge impact on ones mood, to calm, to sooth, is quite magical. I find mixing and matching colours acts as a kind of meditation, and as a busy person, and someone who’s always found comfort in routine, I think I enjoy the fact that it’s something I have control over. Not very romantic perhaps, but there it is.
Where I do start, I usually have a few works going at once, as I have to wait for each layer to dry completely before I begin the next. I love the act of making new works, especially as multiples, perhaps that’s the printmaker in me coming out?
What are your favourite aspects of your work?
The colours, of course. But more than that, I love that I can work from home, doing something which fits in with being Dusty’s mum. I guess that’s why he’s been such a huge part of my work conceptually.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I work a lot. If Dusty is asleep, I’m working. If I’m not painting, I’m responding to emails, preparing work for school, teaching, writing or just being a mum/wife. It’s tough sometimes to keep up the motivation, often I just want to sleep myself! But I love being busy, and I go a little stir crazy if I’ve not got some kind of project in the works.
Most days include a walk around our property, to find and feed our animals. Dusty loves it; seeing the roos, spotting the different birds and feeding the horses, chooks and our cow Steve. Some days we’ll head into town to see friends at one of our local cafes, before hitting the skate park to burn some energy.
Our property is surrounded by national parks and the most beautiful pristine bush beaches. On weekends, we’ve taken to heading down at sunrise and cooking up breakfast on the sand while Jono has a surf. We love that we’re giving Dusty this start to life, just mucking around in the bush, by the sea, being a grub, in much the same way that we did.
At NMJ we are all about the handmade artisan object, which is why we love your work so much. What does it mean to you to have your painting become a part of peoples every day lives?
For me, I make because it’s just become a necessary part of my everyday life, an expression and mode of working through whatever I’m processing. It has, at times, also acted as a means of escaping the chaos of the business. My process is immediate and often somewhat predictable and I find comfort in that. The fact that others find joy in what I do is just a bonus, and I can’t pretend it’s not a nice feeling to have someone say they like what they do, let alone want to look at it every day!
You can shop a select few of Lily's prints on our online store here
Follow Lily's work here @lilyjohannah