With the coldest season of the year upon us, when we can only dream of sunny beach days and warm balmy evenings, an exhibition at Boom Gallery celebrates the many mysterious moods of winter. Tiel Seivl-Keevers is exhibiting a series of paintings in ‘Winter Harvest’, inspired by the seasonal changes she has observed in the environment around her.
Working mainly in acrylics, ink and oil pastels, Tiel (pronounced teal) has developed her own distinctive visual language, partly informed by her earlier career as a graphic designer and illustrator. Her paintings are richly layered with intricate design elements and harmonious blocks of colour exploring concepts of the cycles found in nature – dormancy, death and new beginnings. She erases or paints over parts of her work, a process she likens to the way the weather can add or subtract from the environment.
A keen quilter, Tiel often sews subtle lines of cotton stitching into her works, symbolising attachment and anchoring moments in time. She finds the process of stitching “a completion of a journey”.
Tiel originally grew up in the southern states but is currently based in subtropical Brisbane. She actually misses the cold winters (!) that left a strong impression on her childhood memories so now she tries to pay attention to the minor changes that happen in her environment and convey them in her mixed media works. The harshest season of the year has never looked so beautiful!
‘Winter Harvest’ is on at Boom Gallery for the rest of this week until Saturday 14 June – along with an exhibition of endearing bird illustrations by Amanda Carson and evocative photography by Anita Beaney.
A special thanks to Tiel for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her work and thoughts with us on the Artin’ Geelong blog in the Q&A below.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, August’s Pond, mixed media on paper, 46 cm x 52 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
How would you describe your work in this exhibition and what do you hope the viewer gets from it?
Describing my work is by far one of the hardest parts of the process. To clarify the jumble of words, thoughts, emotions and ideas that are in my head openly to others is difficult. Basically it is a show where the pieces are intended to celebrate aspects of the changes that occur in Winter. I wanted to focus on the dormancy of nature and how it can aesthetically be a beautiful part of the year. I hope that the viewer can discover and lose themselves in the layers of my work and that they can get a feeling that provokes a memory about being connected with nature or the outdoors.
What is the main medium you work in and what do you like about it?
Mostly I work with acrylic, ink and oil pastels and then whatever is at hand. I love layering the media, building depths, then erasing and eliminating parts of what I have already created. My process is very much like how weather patterns and seasonal changes can add or subtract from the environment.
What sort of research and or reference materials do you use for your work? Can you tell us about a typical day in the studio?
I don’t think I have a typical day in the studio but if I did it would start with sorting. I often find myself going to clean, but in reality it is really is just shifting piles around. I collect natural objects from my garden, walks, holidays, keep dried flowers from the florist. So I often sort these objects into different places in my studio. Arrange vases. I like the tactile feeling of pods, flowers, buds, twigs and leaves. I often see colour combinations and this alone will influence my mood or the mood and temperature of the day outside. That’s enough to get me sketching or painting and photographing. Sometimes I can work for six hours straight, other days only a couple of very vague hours. Painting requires all my energy so if I have been answering emails or doing paperwork in the morning, I find it very difficult to pick up a brush. My day stops when the children come home or I have to go and get them from school. I can’t work with them even if they are busy doing their thing at the other end of the house.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, Collecting the Mail 1, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 80 cm x 80cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, Collecting the Mail 2, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 80 cm x 80cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
Who or what provides inspiration for your work? How has this shaped the course of your work? I saw on your blog that you did a workshop with contemporary artist Judy Watson – can you tell us a little about that?
Well nature is key. Apart of my career has been in the graphic design and illustration sector and these reflect in my work. Eg the elements of design are always something I am thinking about. I have a lot of detailed and intricate elements to my paintings. But I also majored in printmaking at Uni so I have this love of how a hand constructed and pulled print can bring the most wonderful surprises. Doing a workshop with Judy recently made me remember how the process of printing through experimental techniques can enhance your style or way of looking. I’d forgotten how fun it was to work with acids and inks. I really hope to continue in this area. Specifically who inspires my work, I couldn’t name just a couple, but I am constantly inspired by Australian artists such as Emma Watson, Tania Rolland, Richard Dunlop, Sarah Amos and Michael Cusack. On a personal note, Rob Brownhall and Miranda Skoczek always keep me wanting to stay on track and do what I am doing.
What sort of challenges have you experienced in your art practice?
Self worth. Confidence. Marketing myself. Believing in myself. Receiving constant praise from friends and strangers, but not seeing rewards in sales. That’s disheartening. The latter part not the praise!
If there was one piece of artwork you could have in your collection, what would it be and why?
If I had a big enough wall space, I’d have a Richard Dunlop painting. I love his ethereal qualities of his work. He uses colour extremely well to enhance mood. Sadly I don’t have big enough walls or wallets.
Which is more important – aesthetics or conceptualism in art?
I’m more about aesthetics, but believe conceptual art is integral to the history of art It teaches us to challenge ideas and ways of thinking both in and out of the gallery arenas.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, Painted Garden 1, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 20 cm x 23cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
What are you hoping to explore in the future?
Still life. I love beautiful 3D objects, particularly handmade ones in my domestic life. I find making 3D objects challenging, but have this connection with them and what they mean to us…my family and friends.
You are very active on social media. Has it given you more opportunities?
Yes, particularly Instagram. I find it very easy to use and have connected with many interesting people who have a love of the visual everyday. I have received quite a lot of business through Instagram. Over the years I have used Flickr and blogged and still use facebook, mostly as my TSK TSK page, although I find facebook really dull to work in. I have met some very special people who I now call my friends through these portals.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, Painted Garden 1, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 20 cm x 23cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, Quilted Winter Days 1, acrylic and mixed media on paper, 40 cm x 63cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
Tiel Seivl Keevers, Weeping Waters, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 92cm x 122cm. Image courtesy the artist and Boom Gallery.
Winter Harvest is on exhibition at Boom Gallery until 14 June 2014. You can find out more about Tiel’s work on her website, tsktsk.com.au.