Working with the significant other…

Cranfield’s Sales Manager Rachel Rowe spent time talking with respected artists, husband and wife Simon and Rebecca Jewell. They work together in a studio adjacent to their Cornish home and we were keen to know what it’s like to share both work-space and tooth-paste! Does it ever get too much?!

Starting our questions with Rebecca..

Blog 4 ‘Purity’ RJ

Have you worked together for many years?

We have worked together seriously for approximately 6 years although we have always painted, Simon more than me in the past. I used to do the odd painting for friends and for around the house, once we moved to Cornwall in 2008 I started painting more and started to take it seriously, discovering my love for Botanical art 6 years ago. I started selling my work and the big breakthrough was taking part in open studios 2012 and joining Lizard Art Co-operative gallery 4 years ago.

The two artists converted the garage into a studio to provide a purpose built space to work in. Before that Rebecca worked at the Kitchen table and Simon in the box room.

Do you work in silence or is there a radio? If so who chooses the station?

I never work in silence there always has to be music on. I mainly listen to bands I love on the Ipod. Familiar music means its always there in the background and not too distracting. Fortunately we both like the same sort of music. I do have my own playlists as some of Simon’s music is not to my taste but I am sure he says the same about mine…

Do you divide up the tasks of purchasing raw materials, cleaning up, packing finished prints & paintings or do these things happen on an ad-hoc basis?

We work as a team when it comes to tasks most things we do together but I am only 4ft 11″ and disabled so Simon does the hanging of our work. To make up for this I often sit and make cards and mount prints for him. We have half the studio each so cleaning up our own space is our own responsibility but every so often we will have a good tidy together and pack away work if its not needed for exhibitions.

Do you comment on each other’s work in progress or is that a no go area?

We both encourage each other, ask for opinions and offer suggestions. This does help me see things from some else’s perspective especially someone you trust. Only once or twice have we differed on opinions but its really good to have someone so close to talk too, and run ideas past.

Blog 2

Do you leave conversation about work and particular projects that you may be involved in, in the studio?

Often we talk for hours of an evening discussing what to do next, looking at images, talking about galleries and planning what we would like to do in the future. I think when you are an artist you are always looking at things, gathering ideas so I guess you never stop working. On the other hand its nice to go out take the dogs for a walk and forget about it for a while.

Do you share a similar client base or does your work appeal to different sectors?

We are in 2 galleries together as well as separate ones, our work is very different in subject matter although we both paint. My work I think is more feminine being Botanical although I paint a lot of flowers on Black backgrounds and this seems to appeal to men. my work is very photo realistic, while Simon’s is more thought provoking. I think we complement each other. While doing Open studios you can see some people do like one or the other but most like both, so I would say on the whole we share a similar client base.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very important, how do you value your own space?

7: I can work with Simon or others but there are times when there is nothing better than working alone with your own thoughts almost daydreaming, then thinking you’ve been painting for half an hour and realising its been 3 hours with no distractions.

Now lets put those same questions to Simon…

Do you work in silence or is there a radio? If so who chooses the station?

We do work with music. I always have and dependant on what I am listening to, it works its way into the painting process. I try and listen to a similar style of music for each painting to keep the same energy.

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Do you divide up the tasks of purchasing raw materials & cleaning up, or do these things happen on an ad-hoc basis?

We normally buy materials together, although we use different mediums, Rebecca uses Acrylics and I use oils we do both paint on canvases and are starting to use similar sizes. With regards to cleaning up we are both responsible to cleaning up our own space which does work well although if Rebecca is not in the studio I do tend to spread out a little! When things get too cluttered we do tend to have a mass tidy up. Due to Rebecca’s disability we both help out on packing paintings etc. especially the large ones. I also do our own canvas framing as well.

Do you comment on each other’s work in progress or is that a no go area?

We do occasionally comment on each others work but only if the other person is asking for an opinion. I personally find it useful to get a different view on things as some paintings just happen and others you can battle with. You can get a bit ‘snow blind’ so a second opinion can move you in a more positive direction.

Do you leave conversation about work and particular projects that you may be involved in, in the studio?

As we are so passionate about what we do we talk about ideas all the time, how to progress things forward both in the painting and our next art career moves. it does seem to be our favourite topic of conversation.

Do you share a similar client base or does your work appeal to different sectors?

We are both very different in our processes and subject matter. Rebecca takes a very technical approach and produces fantastic almost photo realistic botanical work and I am a bit more spontaneous in my approach to landscape. Apart from a quick sketch and a small contact photo for reference I paint straight onto the canvas without any setting out. Both our subject matters differ greatly but we seem to complement each other and thus occasionally share similar Clients. For instance, in one of the galleries where we both exhibit, we have both made sales to the same person.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being very important, how do you value your own space?

I would say 8. Although we both share a space and do work together, I think that it is an important part as an artist to work alone, to have that space to think. it is also important to have a permanent space to work in. Before we converted the garage to a studio, you really had to think about how you were going to produce work. I work mainly in oils and this can be a real headache if you have nowhere to put your work so it can dry. Also by the time I had set up, got all the paints out etc. i would have lost the impetus to carry on. I like to work on at least 1 m x 1 m canvases and I couldn’t really do that as space was limited. Having a dedicated space to leave everything out and being able to work on a number of paintings at the same time has had a real affect on how my technique has evolved. As we share a space we are not always in the studio at the same time. 

And judging by their work, the ‘Jewell method of working’ works!

Blog 6  SJ

 

Blog 5 RJ

 

Blog 7 SJ

 

 

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