MEET THE MAKER – CLAIRE ISHINO
‘BOTANIC’ RUNS TILL 11 SEPTEMBER 2016
Claire, can you tell us about your background? What did you study and what led you to what you are doing today?
Straight out of school, I headed to Adelaide Uni to study English and History but I always loved art at school and just before I was to start second year, I made a last-minute application to the University of South Australia to study Jewellery Design. Four years later I started work in the Jewellery industry here in Adelaide and got lost in the world of diamond engagement ring designs for a while. I returned to uni to study Graphic Design part-time and then decided to take time out and travel to Japan for what I thought would be a year of teaching English. Eight years later I was still living in Japan – at first teaching English and then later, after a trip to Europe, I was inspired to create my own range of silver jewellery which I sold through local shops, galleries and design markets. After becoming a mum, I turned my focus away from jewellery making and began sketching in my spare moments to stay creative. This has continued to evolve over the past several years, at first creating small black and white drawings and now making larger scale colourful acrylic or gouache paintings and limited edition prints.
What has inspired this current exhibition, ‘Botanic’?
I try to take a couple of weeks off at the end of each year – always a time to reflect and think about the work I have created and what is coming next. In some ways, each body of work is born from the previous one or in reaction to it and this latest series was both of these things. I use a lot of plant or floral inspired shapes in my designs but realised I didn’t spend much time actually out in nature or drawing outside. I decided to take a few trips to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and took notes and photos of my everyday surroundings. It was a reminder to look up and appreciate the beauty in simple things and to take time out away from my desk indoors where most of my painting happens. ‘Botanic’ is my colourful and graphic interpretation of the trees and plants I took time to notice and admire and a way to bring some nature back inside.
How do you work? Can you give us some insight into your creative process? Do you work on several pieces at once? Do you have a rigid plan or do you work intuitively?
By nature I am a bit of a daydreamer and tend to work slowly and methodically. With the deadline of an exhibition opening, it means that I really do have to follow a rigid plan and work very consistently in the months leading up to it. I would love to say that I work spontaneously but for me, everything is very planned and controlled and because I work with small brushes and strive to achieve clean lines between colours, everything takes time and can’t be rushed at the last minute. I always start with observation, followed by sketches, development of sketches, the final design, colour roughs and then painting the final pieces. While I usually have an idea of all the pieces I want to complete for an exhibition, I usually only ever work on one piece at once. The only thing I have worked more intuitively with this time is colour choice. I usually like to have every colour decided before I start painting but for this series of work I had a general idea in mind but made choices along the way as each painting developed.
What materials do you use? What’s the most indispensable item in your studio? What are some colours you can’t live without or use frequently?
In recent years, I have come back to using gouache as my first choice of medium. It was the first paint I became familiar with while at uni as we always used it to render jewellery. The most indispensable item on my desk would still be a mechanical pencil and a ream of A4 paper as that is where most of my work begins. I love all colours and always find it difficult to limit my palette. This exhibition there are lots of blues and greens but I always find a way to introduce some pinks and yellows or oranges. I think most people are surprised to learn that the colour paint I use the most is ‘white’; gouache straight from the tube is really intense so I always need to find the light and shade in it and spend a lot of time mixing colours.