Featured Artist March 2017 - Camille Mehta
Interviewed by Mary Bennett
Camille Mehta has a show with Jackie Conradi-Robertson for the month of February at the Unitarian Centre, 949 West 49th, called Colour Assortments and Scenes from Local Life.
Come and meet this mother and daughter team of painters at their Artists Talk on the first Sunday, February 5 from 12:30-1:30 in Hewett Hall, in Lindsey-Priestley Room (just turn immediately right on entering the hall.)
Last year at Artists in Our Midst opening at Roundhouse, Camille launched her “Vancouver Postcards” combining sketches of favorite places around Vancouver with text and poetry. She’s done some new ones since last June (a total of 16) and will also show some of her acrylic paintings.She’s recently also produced a line of greeting cards based on her life as a mom of four small children, somewhat reminiscent of Lynn Johnson’s For Better or For Worse. She calls this series The MotherLoad and has 40 images in the series.
Tell me about the drawing you’ve called Mummy Love!
This is me and my four kids. I really like it because it shows my kids behaving at their worst (or close to it). They’re all acting out or freaking out but it shows me happy. I feel my love for them radiates in the image. That juxtaposition is what makes it funny.
My style might be called “forced reduction.” I carry a small sketch book with me and when I have a bit of time, I draw. I’ve done these self-caricatures all my whole life. I never thought anyone would be interested. I’ve gone through a process of considering that art.
The other image you’re sharing is The Lions Gate Bridge, part of the Vancouver Postcard Series which I know was very popular at last year’s art walk.
After my fourth baby was born, he ate up all my time. I didn’t have time to do acrylic paintings. So I had to change my style. I started doing local scenes from places I love. This is one of them.
It was raining so hard the day I did this one, the rain was splashing on my paper. That’s where those circles came from. I decided to play with them
I have always written poetry; but it’s only with the postcard series that I’ve let people see it.
I have horrible poems from when I was seven and even worse ones from teenage years. Somehow by focusing on places I love, it felt right to “release that baby into the world.”
Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?
The MotherLoad sketches are pen and ink; the Postcards are pen and ink enhanced with pastel, watercolour and a little bit of collage. I label it “mixed-media.”
How much of a role do accident and control play in your work?
I feel that my best work is somewhat accidental. I’ve been doing these little sketches all my life. The MotherLoad series arose from my habit of sketching as self-assessment and now I’m releasing them.
I often find that the very first one I do with all its flaws is more strong and conveys the emotion more strongly than any revision.
I think it’s just you let your hand just move with your mind. Synchronicity happens. Trying to control the hand means the mind is interpreting and possibly judging so it’s not as free.
Tell me about how you learned to make art?
I’ve been drawing all my life. I haven’t studied art formally, but have taken many workshops and mentorships. Two years ago, my mom and I did a studio workshop Leanne Christie. She’s amazing. I learned a lot from her.
With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection? What is it that draws you to them?
I feel very connected to the Impressionists.
I love Leanne Christie. Her use of light is amazing. She has such an economical style with her brushstrokes.
How do you keep learning more about making art?
My mom motivates me a lot. We enjoy taking trips together whether to France or Granville Island and painting together. She’s so supportive. We’ve done the Opus Outdoor Challenge on Mother’s Day for a while, and it was after one of those that I looked up “landscape painters” to just see some images. Every time I clicked on a piece it was one of Leanne Christie’s. Mom and I took a studio workshop and it was great.
Are there new media or techniques or teachers you want to explore?
I really love to do acrylic painting and will do more when I have more time. I felt I had a technical break through with Leanne and I’m looking forward to having time and space to explore that.
Maybe oils too, but I couldn’t use oils right now. I wouldn’t want the kids to get into them.
What ways do you share your art?
I’m excited about my new website which includes the card line.
Tell me a bit about your connection with Artists in our Midst.
I really love being a part of a community of artists. It helps me keep focused through the year. I know it’s coming. It keeps other aspects of my life from completely take over the art part. I keep kindling this portion of my life.
It’s a motivation to just get your stuff out there. I love the opening at the Roundhouse.