Painting English Countryside:
A Chat with Claire Tollstrup
The month of June, we feature artist Claire Tollstrup. We visited with Claire about her creative process, the art she has hanging in her home, and what it's like traveling with wet paint.
What process do you go through to create your paintings?
All of my pieces are very organic, they often grow on their own and take a completely different direction than what I had mapped out. I feel like my main job as an artist is to pay close attention to the beautiful mistakes that happen, and to carefully and slowly guide each piece to completion. Often times I will cut paintings after they are done to refine my composition. Because of this, I rarely have two paintings that are similar, each one has had its own unique journey.
What brought you to painting?
I have always loved art, and I always took different classes in different mediums. My first time using oil paint was 11 years ago, and that has been my preferred medium ever since.
What paintings do you remember from your family home? What paintings do you have currently in your home?
My parents had a beautiful art collection, mostly of traditional landscapes. I have always been taught that art is important, and I'm trying to teach my children the same. I have started my own little collection, and I love having a variety of styles and subjects hanging on my walls. I used to have my own work hanging up, but I kept on taking it down for different shows, so now I'm happy to have work from other artists in its place. I especially love having paintings from some of my artist friends in my home. Erin Spencer, Jenna Von Benedikt, Stephanie Hock, Paige Anderson, Clint Whiting, Katrina Berg, Holli Yoho.
Tell us about your trip to England!
I had been dreaming about painting in Europe for a while, so I was thrilled when Lynne Millar asked me to come! It was such a learning experience in so many ways--what plein air supplies to buy, how to pack oil paint for an overseas trip and how to take it on an airplane, seeing colors differently outside with such bright light, and how to bring wet paintings home from Europe. And it is always a wonderful experience to meet new artists and learn how they create, and how they like to handle the business of art. I was lucky enough to get to know six artists from across the country who were all invited to come along as well. One thing I was surprised about was how much I loved painting sheep. There were sheep everywhere, and I have so many great reference photos to work from now that I'm back. I'd love to do more green rolling hills with tiny sheep dotting the landscape in the distance.
Click here to shop Claire Tollstrup's paintings.