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Meet the Maker - Lucy Davidson

One sunny February afternoon, I wandered down to Lucy Davidson's 62 Ponsonby Road studio and hung out for few hours. We talked about life, work and art of course. Lucy freely worked away on three or four paintings, while I quietly captured this easy afternoon. 

What were you like as a kid?

As a child I was obsessed with dress up and DIY.I'm the older sibling in my family with one little sister. We used to take over the whole house with make believe situations. We'd entertain our parents with extravagant fashion shows; outfits hand sewn from silk scarves, table cloths and rucksacks. We would curtain off our kitchen with sheets to do themed restaurant evenings, theatre productions and music nights. Naturally, I took the role of creative director and Becky was usually the model. My parents definitely encouraged creativity but only if we thrifted and recycled materials. We got very good at turning nothing into something wonderful. We built huts and designed marathon treasure hunts and always had a tent up on the back lawn to play in. My Granny took us to art classes in the school holidays where we learnt pottery and painting. I remember the year we spent in Dunedin as being especially packed full of adventure. My parents rented this tiny two room cottage on the back of a farm. It was so cold, we spent most of the year running to stay warm or fighting over the bath. I think I've gravitated to warmth ever since!

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How did you start your career as an artist?
 
I was incredibly inspired by my art teachers at school so I did a fine arts degree thinking I’d become a teacher like them. I discovered other options at art school and tried my hand in a few different creative roles; film, graphic design and interiors. I think the pivotal point happened when I designed an interior space around a painting of the ocean. The budget didn’t allow for an original but I had my heart set on a textured outcome so I offered to paint the piece myself and that was the first in a series.
 
What’s your background? Did you go to art school? 
 
I grew up in Northland. We moved a few times while I was growing up, including a year in the south island before moving out to Ngunguru. My parents live in a converted barn off the grid and have paved the way for me to explore alternative ways of living which I’d love to do here in Auckland. I studied fine art at Elam.

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Can you describe your style and how you came to it?
 
My style has evolved into abstraction. I use paint to illustrate the things I’ve connected with, from tiny patterns in nature to larger emotional concepts. The more I paint, the more layered my work becomes and I’ll often experiment with different materials to achieve the desired result. I think my practice reflects the two very strong forces working inside me; an organic let it flow state and a more intricate examination of the world.

What are the main themes/ideas in your art?
 
Connection, perspective, synchronicity. Time, landscape, water and golden hour.
 
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What is your process for creating a new artwork?
 
I sketch and use photoshop to mock up my ideas. I pour paint, tilting the canvas to guide it. I scrape it off, dilute it, use squeegees and spatulas to manipulate it. The first part is very organic, I love experimenting with different textures. When I can see something I like, I glaze transparent layers over the top and paint in the details with tiny brushes. I always have numerous works on the go because my layering takes such long time.

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You plan your work yet the whole process and technique seem quite experimental and organic? Does it always turn out the way you plan?

I don't plan everything, especially when it's not a commission. Some days I stay late to just paint without any expectations and I'm completely open to the outcome. When I am working for other people or with a brief, I have a good idea on where the general brush marks will end up and a control of colours but the unexpectedness is still part of the fun. I plan the composition, where major landmarks will sit or how much depth/light will occupy the space. The parts that I don't control are usually my favourite. I work in a series, even when I only need one piece to turn out a certain way so that I can explore other options around a similar idea.

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What materials do you like to work with you when creating your art?
 
I use acrylics, glazing mediums, gels, gold leaf and metallic pigments. More recently I’ve used resin to add extra depth and sheen.
 
What/who is your main source of inspiration?
 
I look everywhere for inspiration. Nature, designers, other artists, musicians, books. I look very closely at the things that are always changing like the sky and find new ways to capture those feelings.

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Where do you create your art?
 
In my wonderful studio at 62 Ponsonby Road. In summer I paint outside and I’ve converted a shipping container into a studio at home for lock down times.
What do you want people to think/feel when they see your art?
 
This is so open to me. I don’t mind what people feel or think when I see my work and I’m always intrigued with feedback. I would hope for people to feel connected - maybe my work would spark a memory of a place or inspire the imagination of a new one and they could share that with me. I find my work to be escapist, or like dreamscapes. They transport me to somewhere imagined, like portals to another world.

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What are you working on right now?
 
About 30 pieces at the moment, half of them commissions and others experiments. I’m working on a series about loss and isolation, but not in the way you may expect. They are gentle paintings in soft sunset colours and capture the sweetness of regeneration.
 
What are your plans for the future or something you would like to work on next?
 
Lately I’ve been feeling a pull towards language and I’m not sure how to incorporate that with my work yet, but I think that’s the next step for me. I’d also like to collaborate with other artists. One day I’d like to combine all of my passions into one hub: an eco, art, music, diy, recycling centre where people can skill share and collaborate.

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In conversation you mentioned only just starting life drawing this year, can we expect to see more figures in your work in the future?

I think there are some more figurative works brewing for me. I did lots of portraiture at university and the return to form is something I'd like to explore with all of the abstract techniques I've gravitated to in more recent times. I felt life drawing to be very freeing.
 
In three words how do you like to describe your artwork.
 
Dream of nature.
 

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