Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
Sculpture exhibited as it should be – in open big spaces, industrial or in a garden setting. Angus Taylor, Wilma Cruise, Adriaan Diedericks – to name a few…. Exploring how form interacts with nature.
Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
Irma Stern, not for her work as much as for her bravery, how she explored the world and her art, her use of color. Her courage.
If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
A difficult question … Love my childrens art….
I cried seeing the Almond Blossoms at the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I was lucky to be alone as I arrived early and headed straight to the top floor where all the masterpieces were. So simple really, but so beautiful. And Monets Waterlillies at Musee de l’Orangerie were breathtaking. Sorry you asked for one piece of art….There are many more on my love list.
How did you get started? Did you always want to be an artist?
I started with art classes, workshops, mixing with other artists…. No, I had no idea I wanted to be an artist, I just got hooked. I always dabbled in art and creativity but never thought I could actually be an artist. It wasn’t something I thought I could be, I thought it was out of my grasp. For the talented. When my second child was born I started spending more time with the paintbrush – it then become something I couldn’t do without, I thought about art every day (and still do). Gradually the pull was such that it became something I had to do, and had to do full time. Lucky me!
What are some of the key themes you explore in your work?
Interaction with the figure and the intimate landscape. Expressing how things feel rather than just look.
What inspired your latest body of work?
Our new house near the river, my trip to India and time with my beautiful model who embraces the story… Fiona is not just a model, she is a beautiful expressive soul.
Tell us more about your creative process.
I set aside space and time for my work. I show up, but try to without huge demands. I play (with colour, collage, paint, drawing, ideas, writing, a story and where it takes me). I find having my model in the studio or out in nature is essential to my work. I have learnt to be kinder to myself... over the years… and I am blessed to have my work surprise me at times.
What drives you as an artist?
Growth and the continual journey that helps me understand me. I am also uplifted when people are moved by my work.
Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?
Usually the most current body of work I am working on is my favorite.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
The sale of my very first painting. That was a big milestone in my life.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I would like to exhibit on the international stage. I have dreams of painting much bigger works that move and uplift the viewer. I would also like to play with installations and 3 dimensional works.
Read more about Helen van Stolk in our interview and studio film here