Belynda Henry is an artist based in the Dooralong Valley on the NSW Central Coast. Most recently she has been selected as a finalist for the Archibald and Wynne prizes.
She is currently exhibiting at Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne.
Here is her original interview on Daily Imprint. Today she shares some insights into her daily art practice.
Describe a typical working day
I always wake up with exciting thoughts about what I want to create. After getting our two daughters to school and a scenic, always inspiring drive through our 20km-long valley, I get home as fast as possible, make a coffee and turn on Triple J or my favourite music. Usually loud as we live in the middle of thousands of acres of National Park and the neighbours are too far away to hear anything.
I answer emails as they arrive, if possible, so it’s not a big job at the end of the day. Depending on my mood, I like to start painting or drawing something that doesn’t matter. Works on paper are great for that. I have a big works on paper table which always has something happening.
I am usually working on an exhibition or commission pieces, but always believe in painting something for no one, that way I can completely let go and try to push my paintings a little further and not really care what anyone thinks. If that makes sense. I paint all day, around family time, usually late into the night. Most days 10-12 hours, if possible.
What are your preferred tools, materials and equipment?
Art materials. I usually work with a variety of paints. Mostly acrylic paints and love drawing into the works with pastels. I have discovered Liquitex spray cans just recently and love that they are water based and you can move the paint around once applied. Also nice for drawing into a painting with. I am constantly searching for new techniques and ways of painting. I look forward to introducing oil paints back into my next exhibition, which is set for September 2017 with Olsen Irwin in Sydney. I purposefully have given myself a longer period of time to paint for this show so I can get outside and really look and think about what it is exactly I am trying to do with the Australian landscape. Looking forward to it and exploring new materials.
How do you dress for your job?
Oh goodness, lucky no one sees me all day long. Terrible, horrible, paint-splattered outfits. I have about 10 pairs of painting jeans which are building up a lovely messy painterly appearance. I gave up on using an apron. T-shirts, my husbands old business shirts and good old Converse sneakers. So if I go out to the city for the day I feel amazing wearing a nice dress.
What is the current state of your desk or creative space?
Most of the time an out-of-control messy place. But it’s a very creative space and I know where everything is. My office is in the studio. I have just cleaned up after finishing this exhibition for Flinders Lane Gallery.
What's your approach to managing technology - from emails to social media?
Well, emails are fine as my computer is here in the studio, unless I am feeling behind and need to put all of my energy into a painting, such as the last two weeks of painting for a show. Then I might start flagging emails and come back to them later.
Instagram is my fave, and I really can’t help looking all day long if I stop for food or drink. I love looking at what the art world is up to from my quiet little space in the trees. It helps me feel connected with the outside world.
When and what do you have for lunch?
I have many lunches. I usually eat all day long. I believe in healthy, natural food and the kitchen is only a 20-second walk out the studio door back into the house. I get really hungry when I paint. It’s surprising how much energy you can use up. Living in the country means no cafes nearby, which is good - I just eat and get straight back to work, no distractions.
What's your preferred pick-me-up?
Coffee or a big green smoothie or juice.
How do you combat physical or creative lulls?
Luckily those moments come rarely. I just finished painting on Thursday last week for Flinders Lane Gallery. The next day or two you realise how tired you are. I love bike rides with my girls. The last few hills back up to the house are sure to wake you up.
Creative lulls come rarely but can always be cured by a day looking at Sydney galleries or a visit to a bookshop like the one at the Art Gallery of NSW. Or just sitting in a landscape sketching or going for a big walk at the end of the valley here and taking photographs. So much wildlife here to enjoy.
What role does silence or sound play in your day?
I prefer silence to noise any day. I love sitting out on the deck and listening to the many bird sounds. Perfect. But while I am painting music is important too.
What's the last thing you do before finishing work for the day?
Put all the lids on my paints and brushes in a bucket of water to soak. Take a look around at what’s happened today, then turn off the lights, close the door and fall into bed into a very deep sleep.