Interview by Megan Stulberg
I’ve been following Toronto artist Rachel Ludlow on Instagram for months now, admiring and ogling her work from afar. I jumped at the chance to interview her on behalf of The Continuist.
Below is the fifth instalment in our Q&A series. After you read it, be sure to check out Rachel’s website and throw her a follow on Instagram.
What do you do for a living?
I’m an artist – I usually make paintings, but sometimes I draw. I also work for the Canadian Art Foundation as a programs assistant and I’m a server.
What’s your favourite part about what you do?
I think my favourite part about what I do as an artist is getting to play. As a maker I get to play with ideas, images, and materials as work. Making things is very satisfying for me.
For me the hardest part is having perseverance and persistence – to make the time to get to the studio between other job commitments, to be resilient after receiving rejection letters, to continue to push through a bad idea to get to something better.
I’ve just always done it – as far as I can remember I’ve made images. As a child I loved colouring books and I was obsessed with staying inside the lines. That obsession has definitely stuck around in my work.
Was there an event/occurrence in particular that you think gave you your “big break”?
I don’t know if I’ve had a “big break” per say, but I can recall several distinct moments throughout my life/career that have definitely propelled me to where I am now. I won a couple of colouring contests as a kid (kind of lame, I know), but it was a form of affirmation that made me think that making pictures was something I could do, something I was good at. A more substantial moment was being selected as part of the Bank of Montreal’s 1st Art competition in 2009 – a nation-wide competition for artists finishing their undergraduate degrees hosted every year at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto. This was motivation for me to keep making the work I want to make.
How has your style and work changed over the years?
I’ve always needed to ‘colour inside the lines’ and have everything be perfectly smooth. In the last few years I’ve pushed that aspect of the way that I paint since its what I just naturally tend to do. I think partially because of that my work has started to take on more of a ‘digital’ aesthetic, where rather than looking like photographs my paintings look like digitally-made images. My working process also changed. I used to hold myself fairly strictly to a single photographic reference image for a painting and now my paintings are formed from several references, with small collages or drawings acting as studies for larger paintings. This has had a huge impact on what my work looks like and feels like, and what it feels like to make it. I think I have more fun now.
What’s your preferred medium and why?
I work primarily with oil paint. I like the control that I have with it and I love the richness of the colours. I wish I spent more time drawing.
Is there other related creative work that you do? If so, what is it?
I take photographs sometimes – admittedly mostly with my just my iPhone. Having access to a decent camera all the time has made me take notice of things around me more. It’s a way for me to create and play with images wherever I am. It keeps me looking.
What’s next for you as an artist?
More paintings. And hopefully more drawings.