This month we talk with painter and illustrator Victoria Ball
What is your artistic background?
Itook a foundation in Art and Design at Cheltenham College of Higher Education and then went on to take a BA Hons in Illustration at Falmouth College of Art.
What made you follow this path?
As far as I can remember it's all I ever wanted to do; much of my childhood was spent drawing or making things. Luckily my parents were very supportive and felt the importance of focussing your life on something that you enjoy. It seemed like a natural progression to go to art school.
What is your physical creative process? What materials and techniques do you use?
I am an illustrator as well as being a painter, and much of my time is spent at a computer working on digital illustrations, so painting for me is a huge release. I work mostly in acrylics on gessoed wood panels, starting off with lots of gestural marks and texture, using reference photos and sketches that I've made of the landscape that I'm working on. I then gradually work into the painting, blocking areas in and simplifying the shapes. It's like a push and pull process to find a balance, not only between the colours, but also between the simple, geometric areas and lively bits. I'm always striving to create a sense of calm with these landscapes.
What inspires your work?
Being outdoors here in Somerset, the Cotswolds, where I grew up and also the Dorset coast, where we spend a lot of time as a family. I like to look for interesting shapes within the landscape. I love big skies and rolling, vast views. I find it amazing that the same place can look so different depending on the weather or the light and time of year.
How did lockdown affect the way you work and create?
We had our 4 and 5 year olds at home with us, so time was limited! I squeezed in essential work where I could and spent the rest of the time with them. I always seem to feel even more inspired to paint when I'm unable to physically produce work. It was frustrating at times, but I just made a mental note of the pieces I wanted to work on once things returned to normal. Having said that, I am grateful for the time we were all able to spend together in the lockdown summer.
Where do you work from? Tell us about your studio.
I work from home in what was once the old kitchen. It's a small space with an easel at one end and my illustration desk at the other. It's my little sanctuary.
What is your favourite place to be for artistic inspiration?
I love visiting the Tate St Ives, I always find inspiration there. The post war modern art collections are very inspiring. There were some incredible female abstract artists making really important work in that era. Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, home of Jim and Helen Ede, is another place that never fails to inspire me, it's full of the most beautiful objects and artwork.
What artists inspire you, and why?
There are so many, Nicolas de Stael, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, especially her work during the 50’s, where she was focussing on geometric principles and the use of the golden section.
There is a particular Kyffin Williams painting that is often in my mind, too, of a sunset, in Anglesey I think. Unlike much of his other work it feels quite abstract, with 3 strips of grey and then this vivid, light cadmium red sun that pops, it's beautiful and I often think about it when I'm painting. Then there are artists like Stanhope Forbes, for the brushwork. His 'Beach Scene, St Ives' is a favourite. It's a tiny unassuming painting in the permanent collection at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. I love the composition of it so much.
If you hadn’t become an artist, what would you have done?
I would have still pursued something creative, maybe as an interior designer.
How do you find Frome, in terms of creativity and artistic community?
Frome is such a brilliantly creative town, full of artists, designers and makers. What strikes me most is how supportive people are of one another; there is a great sense of community here. It feels like you're part of something quite special, living and working here.
Are there any artistic processes/disciplines which you haven’t worked in/with, but would like to?
I'm always up for trying out different materials, using inks and mixing mediums, but I think painting is definitely what I'm drawn to most.
How can people see and buy your work?
Artworks and upcoming shows can be seen here www.victoriajball.com
Various prints and original paintings are also available, both online and in the gallery at Kobi and Teal, Frome.
You can follow Victoria on Instagram,
For painting @victoria_j_ball and
for illustration @victoriaball_