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Studio Visit - Bella McGoldrick

Studio Visit - Bella McGoldrick

Studio Visit - Bella McGoldrick

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Studio Visit

Bella McGoldrick

Australian artist Bella McGoldrick, currently based in New York City, draws her subject matter in a photorealistic light, capturing the intimacy and life of objects we wear, eat, and handle on a daily basis. Explore her studio and practice below.

 

Q.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist.

A.

I’m a Kiwi-Australian and studied Fashion Design in Melbourne. I was selling fashion illustrations all throughout college to get me through, so when I found myself between work after living in NYC for 2 years, I opted to see if I could sell some art again. Happenstance that I could, I started by drawing objects around me, with copic markers and pencil for the finer details. They then grew in scale and detail, no longer working with markers. I find myself spending upwards of 120 hours on a single piece. I got good at colouring, an activity that has continued on from my 3 year old self.

Q.

Describe your work in three words.

A.

Realistic, playful, inanimate

Q.

What is your creative process?

A.

It usually starts with a tangible visual artifact that I’m drawn to. Either by the way it’s worn in, or something about the aesthetic that pulls me. Then I start to script a story about it; who owned it, when was it loved, why? Often this finds me adding other objects to the competition - all aligned with the story I’ve told myself. I’m attracted to the way objects reflect or hold light, their texture and their ability to create contrast within themselves.

I then photograph these objects - which is probably the most important part of the process - seeing as my work tends to “photo realism”. Once the chosen image is sketched out proportionally enlarged on the paper, I start in one corner and make my way though. Often due to how long I spend on pieces, by the time I come around to meet up where I started, I’m much better technically than when I began.

Q.

What draws you to working in colored pencil?

A.

It’s the precision that the color pencils allow me. They’re always super sharp and I can hone in on the smallest details that enable my work to be so highly realistic. I got into colored pencils almost by chance after using markers for fashion illustrations and a small amount of pencil on top. I don’t like the grain it gives with the paper, so it at times takes a heavy hand or a lot of layering to give a solid color - for this reason I would like to give a hand at painting.

Bella McGoldrick says:

“I’m attracted to the way objects reflect or hold light, their texture and their ability to create contrast within themselves.”

Bella McGoldrick
Bella McGoldrick

Q.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

A.

Honestly, old antique stores, markets and weird yard sales or pawn shops. Wherever I travel. I like the little forgotten things that have a weird tie to a place, or time, or person. I’m so aware of things going on in this day and age, and I feel like by bringing something from a different time into my aesthetic which is unavoidably current, it generates something more interesting.

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

Well, the ideas for new pieces take the longest, and that can come from anywhere. I find the more I’m working though the more it flows. I do often work from remote beautiful places like Oaxaca, Mexico and I live for that, but when I’m in a routine and working solidly at home in New York is when I feel most in flow, and one piece will roll off the end of another.

Q.

What influence does modern culture have on your work?

A.

Modern culture probably influences me more subconsciously than front of mind. I’m moving though the world every day being influenced by what I see and do and feel, and that gets infiltrated but I almost want to do my best not to let it direct where I’m going too much. I feel like if I’m too on the pulse the work starts to look the same as whatever it poppin at that time. Simultaneously, I’m actively trying to learn about the culture of wherever I’m located, right now in New York and as an Australian I’m enthralled with American culture in general, and that definitely finds its way into my work.

Q.

What is your relationship with social media?

A.

I mean it’s been such a sick tool for me. It’s totally enabled me to make a living from selling my art and it’s really cool to connect with people around the world. I’m super cautious of it though. I think it’s highly addictive and bad for mental health - across the board. And, whilst it showcases art so successfully, and I’m forever grateful, I feel the art also has to stand by itself, in the physical. Especially at this time during COVID, but also in general, I crave more physical experiences and less online time!

Q.

What influence does living in New York City have on your work?

A.

New York City influences everything, and that‘s exactly why I wanted to move here. It really penetrates you. When I first moved here I was so floored at how many people appeared not to work. Like, at 11 AM on a Tuesday coffee shops would be filled, and people would be lounging in the parks. I now realise it’s because all these people are doing it for themselves. They are freelancing, or artists, or are night people that prefer to start their work days at 10 PM. Everyone does such interesting and creative things in New York City, and it’s palpable. The energy is tangible and it only makes you want to create more.

Q.

What messages or emotions do you hope to convey to your audience?

A.

The hope is to pull some sort of nostalgia and connection with the subjects, and the way in which they’re portrayed. Maybe it takes the viewer back to a particular place, or maybe I’ve included someone’s favorite “(blank)” and now they simply can’t live without this reminder of it everyday, hung on their walls. That’s the hope of course!

Bella McGoldrick

Q.

Who are some contemporaries or figures in art history who have influenced you?

A.

Salvador Dali was the first exhibit I saw that never left my mind. That’s the first, and certainly not the last, entire exhibition that punctured my world view and made me want to join him in whatever he was attempting. I wanted to be him. More recently I’m obsessed with Richie Culver. I don’t even know if I’m influenced by him, but I want to be. To make something so plain be so damn exciting and captivating.

Q.

Are there any quotes or mantras that you particularly connect with?

A.

“You can never become happy, you can only be happy” - I don’t remember who wrote it or where I heard it, but this is the new direction I’m trying out. It relates to my work too. I can’t become successful in an overall sense. I can only be successful each day, had I a good, effective and creative day. Surely day by day will create the life that I want to lead? That’s what I’m testing out at the moment anyway.

Q.

What do you listen to when creating?

A.

Podcasts and audiobooks. Then perhaps at a 4 PM slump I’ll play some tunes. I love Sam Harris and Radiolab, and admittedly JRE for podcasts. Right now I’m between the recordings of Alan Watts, a book on Stoicism, and anything by David Sedaris - which is far better on audio then actually reading as I get to just listen to him riff on.

Q.

What makes you laugh?

A.

Well, as previously mentioned - David Sedaris. I’ll be in stitches. Comedy shows, which I miss going to right now. Honestly, I make myself laugh. Any friend of mine must make me laugh. Is there anything better than laughing? Not much.

Q.

What makes you nervous?

A.

Not being good at something. I really hate not being good at things. On a deeper level visas, excuse my french but fucking working visas! On a deep level, not being good enough, in general.

Q.

What makes you excited about the future?

A.

Everything. I’m for sure an optimist and I’m also trying to learn and grow as much as possible, so, surely I’ll be a way wiser person in the future?! I’m excited to meet new people, progress in my work, see what the post COVID world will look like. Excited to see what life in my 30’s will be like. Excited to meet my pregnant sister's baby. Excited to not be such a nomad for a second, find a spot I want to stay and start a book collection.




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