We discuss Enchiladas & Tequila with Frida Kahlo, favourite colours, working out, studio spaces, fashion and more.
Beager is a fabulous multidisciplinary artist, who produces these expressive and mood evoking paintings inspired by attitude, empowerment and the female form and ideas.
Describing the figures in her works, Beager says “The figures in my work have morphed from a constant development of drawing and painting since a young age. In a way I think they show different emotions and feelings from my own experiences and others who have influenced me. Recently I have been using Greek sculptures as a reference for form and facial features. Juxtaposing this classical look with vivid colour and lively brushstrokes creates an emotional response and breathes life back into the sculptures, who’s original pigments would have deteriorated over thousands of years.”
Tell me about your artist story. How were you trained? Tell me about your journey to where you are now?
I have always loved painting right from an early age, our kitchen walls were always full of drawings and at school I enjoyed and excelled in Art. During more academic/'boring' classes I would often be sketching my friends or drawing 'tattoos' on arms (at their request). After graduating from university I got a job as a womenswear designer and worked my way up to senior designer over 7 years, designing for brands such as Topshop and ASOS. My BA is in Fashion Design which was mainly due to the fact that at art college, I was told that if I wanted to be an artist I should prepare to be poor for the rest of my life! My tutors encouraged me to apply for a more ‘secure’ degree that offered more job prospects than a fine art degree. I always knew that I wanted to eventually be an artist, but by working in the creative industry I gained valuable knowledge, and later was able to be in a position to leave my job and start working as a full-time artist.
What is your studio like? How important is this space for you Amy? Where do you like to create best? What are your artist necessities? What could you not live without?
I am in my little home studio.
It’s a spare room in my house. I love it even though it would be a Luxury to have a larger space, I am very lucky to be able to jump into painting at any time. This space is so important as I can close myself off and really get into the zone which is important when painting. When using acrylic paint I love to mix them with high pigment ink to get a really vivid colour.
What do you listen to while you work?
Radiohead is my absolute favourite and I listen to it everyday. I also listen to stuff like Badbadnotgood, Maribou State and classics like Kate Bush & Deep Purple.
AMY What does an average working day look like to you?
I start every day with a workout. It makes me get up early and start the day off with a sense of achievement. Then over the course of the day I will be prepping / shipping orders, researching inspiration, sketching, shopping for supplies, painting, posting on social media and admin stuff. Every day is different so I try to paint when I’m really feeling it and when I’m not I don’t force it, I’ll just complete more admin tasks on those days.
Tell me a bit about your process, and how each work comes to life?
I usually start with a pencil sketch to get some key details and a rough composition. Then I work in colour layers so I usually cover the surface in one base colour first then add on top of that. I’ll always take photographs throughout different stages of the painting. This helps me take a step back and view the piece as a whole image, I find it really helps me with balance of colour.
How do you know when a work is finished?
When it looks good! Once it has enough depth, interesting details, a good colour composition and a pleasing variation of brushstrokes.
Tell me about the figures in your work. Where do they come from? What are they feeling?
The figures in my work have morphed from a constant development of drawing and painting since a young age. In a way I think they show different emotions and feelings from my own experiences and others who have influenced me. Recently I have been using Greek sculptures as a reference for form and facial features. Juxtaposing this classical look with vivid colour and lively brushstrokes creates an emotional response and breathes life back into the sculptures, who’s original pigments would have deteriorated over thousands of years.
What memorable responses have you had to your work? And which artwork would you like people to remember you for?
One man asked if my painting ‘Blue Woman’ was of Jayne Mansfield as he explained that she died in a car accident and was strangled by her scarf. I said it wasn’t and he looked at the painting and back at me with a discerning expression. After further discussion I asked if he liked the painting and he said ‘I’m not sure’ and walked away. I knew of Jayne Mansfield but not of the rumours around her death, but as I talked about the encounter with another artist who was exhibiting with me, he told me it was Isadora Duncan who was strangled by her scarf in a car accident. As I researched more about Isadora Duncan’s life I was fascinated with her spirit and story, she has inspired all of my work since. It turned out to be a very useful conversation.
Blue Woman is my favourite piece.
Could you please pick a piece of your work, and tell me a bit about it?
I guess It makes sense to tell you about ‘Blue Woman’ now! The inspiration came from a photograph in 1968 Vogue, of Eduardo Costa’s ‘Gold ear’ sculpture. I was mainly working on fashion illustrations before this painting, and whilst working on looks from the Gucci AW19 collection I came across the photograph, as the sculpture was inspiration for Alessandro Michele, creative director at Gucci.
The title of Costa’s surrealist sculptures ‘Fashion Fiction 1’ and the photograph in Vogue, had that 60s Science fiction aesthetic. I had the urge to paint a woman in blue and I thought this image would be interesting to use.
I didn’t have a finished idea in mind for this painting before starting. I had a rough colour palette and envisioned a woman with sculptural features and a ‘perfect’ profile. The decision to make the painting landscape was made later on, as the painting developed I found that the fluid pooling of ink round the neck reminded me of Marlene Dumas’ compositions in her mortuary series. I thought this was an interesting and evocative idea. I really enjoyed painting this and it felt like a breakthrough for me, proving to be the inspiration for my following Isadora Duncan inspired series titled ‘Mother’.
If you could be a single colour, what would you be?
I would be blue so I could spend time in the sky or in the sea.
What do you do for fun?
Hang out with friends, travelling, going to art exhibitions and galleries... basically stuff we haven’t been able to do much of this year !
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
Enchiladas & Tequila with Frida Kahlo
Favourite historical female artist?
Favourite current practicing female artists and their Instagram Handles? (as many as you like?)?
Valerie Savchits @valarie.savchits
Rhiannon Salisbury @rhiannon_r_salisbury
Aly Helyer @alyhelyer
Genieve Figgis @genievefiggis
Marcelina Amelia @marcelinaamelia
Elizabeth Power @elizabethpowerart
Nadia Waheed @nadiakwd
Ellie Walker @ellierwalker
Tracey Slater @i_draw_lines
Emma Fineman @emmafineman
Sina Schmidt @sinasschmidt
I could go on and on....