Camille Sleeman - Featured Artist of the Month July



Backlit Birches, oil on canvas, 30"x36"

Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?

I work in various media, but I love painting. For the last 2 years I have been working in oil paint. I appreciate its velvety, luminous quality.

With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection? What is it that draws you to them?

Joan Mitchell, who often worked from “remembered images” of landscape.

David Alexander, who travels into remote landscapes to study them and completes large gutsy paintings in his studio.

Ivon Hitchens, who created semi- abstract landscape paintings using blocks of colour.

All three knew their subject well, and create(d) evocative paintings, but they approach(ed) their art practice/process/method in very different ways.

What process or technique in art-making interests you? 

To understand and connect with the subject. I begin with sketching on site, then in the studio, I complete black and white tonal sketches, and then move on to small oil sketches to set up my colour palette for the final piece. In this way, the landscape slowly becomes my own.

What technical challenges do you face in the process of making art?

Composition is the most important thing, and adjustments are made as the work progresses.

What in your artistic training do you value most at this time? 

I am slowly developing my ability to look at my own work and critique it objectively so that I can become a better painter.

How much of a role do accident and control play in your work? 

As my understanding of the technical aspects of art making improves, I am better able to work quickly and confidently. I defer judgment when I paint and happy accidents occur. 

What are some of your artistic challenges at present?

Simplifying my work! My training as a landscape architect has allowed me to understand landscape, but at times I focus too closely on details. 

What are some of your artistic accomplishments at present?

Moving toward a more loose semi- abstract style.

Monoprint making-- very spontaneous and satisfying and a great help in my painting.

Can you share three things you’ve learned as an artist through your own art?

It’s been said before: “paint what you know” .

Learn to stand back (way back)  and look at your work objectively.

Make time everyday to work on your art.

When you need inspiration, how to do you get it?

I head outdoors into the landscape no matter the weather or the season.

When you need to learn more as an artist, how do you do it?

I take part in a painting studio course with an artist whose work I admire.

What is exciting on your artistic horizon? 

Working toward abstraction and painting with abandon.

What is it about this artwork ("Backlit Birches") that led you to choose it for this feature? What specific challenges did you face in making this artwork?

This painting planted the seed out of which a new direction in process and style is emerging. Editing out certain landscape elements as I worked was necessary in order to emphasize the importance of the contrast between light and shadow in the piece. The challenge will be to focus on further editing in order to capture the essence of the landscape without being too literal.