Close Up interview with Visual Artist Maxine Salvatore

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

As a visual artist I love to work with a range of media, including printmaking, painting, photography and installation.   I am particularly passionate about printmaking and am pursuing photo etching; using more than one plate for each etching.  With painting I have often enlarged small works many times over, giving a new perspective to the subject.  With one work, called “Homage to Van Gogh” , I took a tiny section of Van Gogh’s  ‘Irises’ and enlarged it up to 2 metres x 2 metres, which I painted onto a grid of 25 canvases.  Compared with the large paintings, the new photo etching works are on a very small scale, being no more than 100 mm in either height or width.  I am working on a series using raven imagery for a joint show I have opening in August in the Briagolong Art Gallery in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.

Being lucky enough to live, and have my studio, in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in Gippsland, surrounded by centuries old Gippsland Red Gums, and with views of the snow-covered Victorian Alps, I am treated daily to spectacular vast skyscapes.  Photographing clouds is a bit of an obsession, and I am filing them away for future work.  Inner city Melbourne is also close to my heart, having lived there for many years, and having had a studio at Redbox in Collingwood.  I also had a stall at the Rose Street Artists’ Market in Fitzroy for more than three years.
“Homage to Arp#1”
 Multiplate Lincocut with chine colle,
Japanese paper

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?

All artists who follow their heart are inspirational.  I am inspired by people who keep moving forward with their art or design work and people who challenge themselves to come up with something totally new.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you design and paint?

There’s too much inspiration sometimes, and not enough time to execute the work.  It may be that the light strikes something in a new way.  It can be something as simple as the juxtaposing of two strokes of colours, or a sensuously drawn charcoal line contrasting with a white ground, or the pattern that dry leaves have made when they have fallen onto the footpath. I find attending galleries and looking at other artists’ work in books, or online, to be very inspirational.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

Creative.  Resourceful.  Amusing.  Encouraging.  Playful.

“Night Raven”
Two plate etching

How did you know when you have found your passion for Art & Design?

As a child my favourite occupation was drawing and colouring-in.  Favourite gifts were always flat tins filled with watercolour pans.  I can still see the colours, and remember the names of many of them.  With the watercolours I took to colouring-in any line image I found, be it in a black and white comic, or the etchings which filled my mother’s old schoolgirl annuals.  When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always replied, “An artist!”
Many years later, I attended one of Mirka Mora’s doll-making workshops at the CAE.  It was a life-changing event.  I would never have called myself a painter at that time, but Mirka did just that, and told me I must “paint and study other artists every day”.  It wasn’t long after meeting Mirka that I enrolled to study Visual Arts at TAFE.

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

In the 1960s my father designed houses, and built them from scratch with his own hands.  There were no power tools to make the job easier.  Most of the houses were holiday homes built in the bush above the Great Ocean Road.  My first job was typing my father’s job specifications for the buildings.  This wasn’t artistic in any sense, but it started a love affair with architectural drawings.
“Family Ties #6”
Linocut and watercolour
Once I left school I worked in administration in an accounting firm.  Interestingly, I was chosen for the position because of my handwriting, which had to be clear when filling in income tax returns.  They were all done by hand, before being sent to the Tax Office.
It took me many years to feel comfortable enough to pursue my artwork seriously.  I’d always drawn and painted over the years, but it wasn’t until I studied Visual Art at TAFE that I “got it”.  It didn’t take too long after just a few exhibitions, both solo and group, for me to call myself an artist.

Describe your day in your studio space?

No two days in the studio are the same. With printmaking I may be cutting, filing, and degreasing zinc plates, or cutting lino, or I may be painting.  I don’t have a computer in my studio, so emails, etc. are not part of my studio time.  I deal with emails at breakfast time, and check them again at lunchtime, using my phone.  I always start in the studio armed with a coffee and a design, or artist, magazine, such as “Modern Painters”.  I am in the habit of using an art journal and will often clip photos, or interesting articles from the magazine and paste them into my journal at this time.  I also like to plan, on paper, my studio work for the day.  Sometimes I will play with mixing printing inks, or oil colours, and make notes on the admixtures in my journal, along with strokes of the colours.  It never ceases to amaze me how many different shades one can make from two or three colours, plus black and white.  In the journal, I also jot down ideas that come to me while working.
Maxine’s Studio

As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?

It can be frustrating to have so many ideas and only one lifetime in which to realise them.

Tell us about how you prioritise your work.

When I am working on a project, or towards an exhibition, I create a timeline.  I try to be realistic with how much time each part of the project takes, and to factor in family and social time as well, but I also like to stretch myself.  My daily, weekly and whole of project plans are reassessed often.

Can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?

 Many of my friends are artists, which means we never run out of conversation.  Other friends who may not be artists are very supportive, and some have traveled three hours to an opening of mine.  I am involved with a network of artists from my time at Redbox Studios in Collingwood, and at the Rose Street Artists’ Market.  There is also a large group of artists living locally.

“Family Ties #10”
Linocut and watercolour
Many of these artists belong to the Briagolong Art Gallery, a contemporary art space in the tiny town of Briagolong.  A fellow artist, Gillian Kline, has opened her printmaking studio – Freestone Press – for printmakers to access.  I spend one day a week at Freestone Press, along with other artists, using the presses, and catching up on all the local art news.  So far this year with the Freestone Printmakers we have exhibited at Gecko Studio Gallery in Fish Creek, Oakhill Gallery in Mornington, and at the Courthouse Gallery in Stratford.  I have also attended three different printmaking workshops this year, and will be conducting my own later in the year.  This workshop will focus on photographing 2D artwork and editing the images in Photoshop reading for print and the web.

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

 It IS worth it!  Even if it isn’t as financially rewarding as you would like it to be, while you are physically involved in making work that has meaning for you, you will feel fulfilled.  It’s only when you stop working and thoughts creep into your consciousness that you feel any lack of abundance.  Also, find a tribe of like-minded artistic individuals.  You wont have to look far, as once you acknowledge that you are an artistic, the tribe will appear.

“Flamenca Roja”

Linocut and collograph

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?

 Hmm …  London, Paris, New York, Venezia.  Would be very nice to have my work exhibited in these cities.  Also want to take up some residencies in other countries.

What is your proudest moment so far?

There are three, actually … Can’t go past giving birth to three unique individuals.

Who do you most want to meet and why?

Frank Gehry. I love that he pushed his design aesthetic to create such amazing sculptural buildings, using cutting edge technologies and materials.  A modern Gaudi.
“Frida 013”
Handcoloured screenprint.

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

It doesn’t matter what your head is saying.  If what it is saying is not in alignment with your heart, do not follow its dodgy advice.  It always has an agenda!

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

Reading “Playing in the Unified Field – Raising & Becoming Conscious, Creative Human Beings” by Carla Hannaford.
A book I would recommend is “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” by Paul Arden.
Another recommendation:  My son Serge has an amusing book coming out next month, in time for Father’s Day … “Fighter Pilot” … adventures beyond the sound barrier with an Australian Top Gun.
“My Best Side”
 Mixed media on canvas
 90cm x 90cm

Where do we find you and your products? 

Best place to start is with my email:
Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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