Nicole Sleeth: background and goals

I’m self supporting, using art as a source of stimulation. In contacting you to discuss coaching, my goal is to explore. I have the hope that, as a result of our interaction, I could discover some new concepts to develop in my (digital) paint composition. Also, I hope you can give me advice on how I can discover a connection in the world where my work can grow in a social, paid capacity.

Four years ago I began using Procreate on an IPad Pro. While travelling in India, I experienced the joy of communicating with local people as I drew landscape, even though we did not share a common language. Here in Victoria, I went to life drawing and practiced drawing from sight at Xchanges. I took some classes, on portrait drawing with Noah Lane, on anatomy with Evan Kitson (Arts Students League of New York), on digital art with Steve Forster, and many others. I joined a local group of oil painting artists to practice weekly portrait sessions with community volunteers.

My professional career started in corporeal mime. Street theatre, artists model. Also lots of electronics and video. Then 3D animation and projects with Kokoro Dance, Canada Council Arts grant. Then my career crossed over into the personal domain as a therapy journey started. I became a therapist and practiced for a decade. When that period of work ended, I travelled and settled in Victoria. For the last 5 years I’ve been learning to draw. I experience a journey that allows me to resume my earlier enjoyment in art making.

My inner themes involve a character, which is to say a process; usually resting in the atmosphere of a planet, the central figure is a shape (an organic blob, with some features like holes and roundness). Then this shape interacts with a beam of light and its turbulence spreads off the blob into shade on the planet. When I draw this sequence, I can ask myself how is the light flowing, and what’s the shape doing? I think about how I can show the shape in relationships with the environment, light, and other shapes. I feel ready for some new questions. Areas of interest: how to place this character in the viewer’s space (companion, symbol of self, world aware)? Clarify the narrative in play? Integrate references through sub shape via texture.

My second project involves the experience of people, real people and the ideas of people. I’m aware of the gulf between people’s inner and outer life. I have, as a result of a counselling career, found ways to encourage a deepened and opened relationship with people. When I portray a person I feel connected. I want to learn how to place this feeling. Like if I could be a painter of amulets, carried with care and love, to remember a possibly far away partner.

Lately I’m taking up the question, what’s art about? I have an idea of an artist as an original thinker who can share thoughts easily. I would like to be an artist who communicates intelligibly and beautifully, with depth and evocation. I would like to be a beacon of socially healing energy that counteracts the alienation of modern life, reaffirming an emotionally calming and nature loving connection with friends, partners and families.

My stage is such that I am interested in what happens after i create the image. How others see it, and how I can extend the reach of an image into the current social awareness. I feel I don’t know where my image wants to travel: the small but deep connection to a person on their bedroom wall, the public synapse of instagram and twitter, the business efforts of a website designer, the graphic contributor to a magazine, the arts contributor to a website or local paper. In some way I want to find and establish a connection in the world that affirms and exercises my art skill. Perhaps I want to find a part time job as an artist. Or perhaps I want to sell paintings. Or perhaps I want to sell teaching digital art. Or perhaps I want to sell portraiture to individuals or organizations. I feel I could portray a hip look.

So, to progress in a social way that affirms the highest level of artistry I can confidently supply. To provide this work at a level that meets my need and energy. Ideally I can offer my development of work in abstract, character, portraiture, and landscape.

Even though you are an oil painter and I work digitally, I propose that our media divergence be irrelevant, in favour of using shared concerns in fine arts concepts, graphic arts concepts, and art world marketing concepts. I both want to integrate new fine arts concepts and integrate a commercial function in some way. The commercial function, by which I mean selling my work in some form, is my greatest challenge. I don’t know where my work would find a home. This seems like an ideal job for a coach!

So, I imagine a combined approach where you comment on my work as way to help me see what role it can play in the world. You invite me to take up activities in the world that might allow my professional involvement. Even though that would be enough for me, I also want to invite you to figure out what my various achievement levels are in visual art, and to point me to specific skills I should improve.

Technically I’m retired. This has allowed me to explore digital art, and I find I have a relationship with my art process. I try to encourage and engage with fantasy as a path for creative development. In the past, I knew I wanted to work with images of people, and this was because I want to feel connected with people. I think if a person sees another person, already they are in the painting and see things from that perspective But now I’m interested in the question more directly; What is image making about? What are we trying to do? How do others answer this? Particularly from a psychological perspective. Perhaps we could identify paths by their destinations: exemplifying wealth, exemplifying a social policy, advertising a message. All these, I can set aside. I am interested in conceptual art dealing with existential qualities . The artist should use knowledge of art to say something that I as the viewer find uplifting. As a conceptual artist, let me deliver ideas that help people in their lives, to remember their sensitive humanity, to protect and care for others, to reach into the unknown and discover their own path.

I have a Masters of Arts, and I spent a decade as a BC Registered Clinical Counsellor while working for Colleges and Universities in BC. After retiring, I was able to develop digital art skills, and I found I’m able to draw in a generative way. By generative, I mean that I found my practice self rewarding enough that I enjoyed returning to it. I enjoy landscape, abstract, and portraiture.

In terms of my Counselling Practice, I find that my art is a way that I can continue the Interpretive Inquiry research methods that I employed for my Masters Thesis. i compared a cognitive, analytic, and process oriented understanding of Father and Son conflict. In my current art work, I document an experiential state, the quality of life I experience.

I have taken up the subject of alienation, both as an area of my own social experience, and as a theme for a fictional character who floats in space. The creation of a blob image comes as I tell a story. The story is to explain a state, where my life is represented as a shape. Then I look to the world around which the blob floats, and to a light source that illuminates most, but not all, of the shape. The material of the shape is pellucid, it transmits light and it blocks light. The shape has roundness and folds, and usually a hole or two. The story gets interesting becuase the light is never straight and unimpeded. The world holds a shadow that marks the resistance of the shape, and softens a spotlight in a rare atmosphere. So, this is a story in characterization, but it lives in visual space. I’m aware that all the features of the story are from visual tools. I want to deepen the story and explore new visual tools to do this

In my portraits, I continue to focus on my technical skill. I have looked at Loomis and others, but now I tend to just instinctually draw from sight. I know that I want to improve my features.

These goals (improve figurative, enrich story of shape) are subject to what feels like a health fantasy. I am self supporting, but I want to work as an artist. I’m very open to the form of work. I would like to discuss your ideas of how I can engage socially in a way that generates sales of my work (image maker for hire) or my paintings (to be determined). I recently had the opportunity to hang framed prints as part of a show of the portrait group at Goward House. This was a first step for me, in learning about prints and frames, but also it provided a saleable product. I would like to learn how I can make my work more saleable, if possible.

If you’re still with me, let’s go to a final summary in a forward looking context.