Emerging British painter Christina Symes has exhibited her work throughout The United Kingdom. She focuses predominantly on the relationship between humans and nature, seeking to stimulate the viewer’s awareness of their own environment and engagement with it. For Christina, painting offers a form of escapism, peace and solitude in contrast to the chaos and complexity of modern life. She ultimately achieves a body of work that combines both realism and imagination, softness and strength.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Art has been my main passion for as long as I can remember. When I was around 17 and thinking more seriously about my career and selling my first few paintings, I realised that being an artist was what I truly wanted to focus on. This was reinforced by the positive response I received from people telling me how much my work uplifted and inspired them.
Art has always provided me with a release and a sense of liberation; a means to express something that I can’t through words in a way that nothing else can. I was delighted to discover that I could not only bring myself this sense of liberation and joy through creating my art, but I could also bring it to others, and potentially make a career out of that.
Can you talk about your artistic influences and other artists you are most inspired by?
My main influence is nature. Recently, for various reasons, our relationship with the natural environment has increasingly been placed into the spotlight. Many of these themes influence my work, especially the importance of nature for our mental health and wellbeing, and the protection and conservation of nature itself.
Artists I’ve always taken much influence from include Turner, Constable, Monet and Renoir, amongst others. In a more contemporary context, I’m inspired by artists such as David Hockney, Erin Hanson and Jim Musil. Although these artists explore it in different ways and during very different time periods, they share a core theme of responding directly to the natural world with a strong use of colour and light. This is something that is very important in my own work.
Do you prefer to work alone or collaborate with others?
When it comes to working directly on a painting or commission, I generally prefer to work alone – this way I can achieve greater focus and connection with the piece. However, I’ve also experienced the many benefits of working collaboratively, especially when curating/organising exhibitions and combining different themes. During the lockdown this has come more apparent, I’ve realised how much I’ve missed seeing other artists and discussing projects and ideas, as well as visiting new exhibitions and galleries. This is important when expanding and evolving one’s creative practice. In my experience, working alone in a studio at all times can sometimes become isolating and uninspiring,
Can you tell us about a project you’re currently working on?
I’ve been working on a series of small oil paintings inspired by my local view of the Canary Wharf tower blocks in London. Getting out and about to paint my usual nature inspired scenes hasn’t been possible over the last few months, so I’ve had to find ways to adapt to current times. I have kept an element of nature within these paintings by including atmospheric skies and the river Thames. Buildings are a challenging and unfamiliar subject matter for me, but it’s been good to try something new.
I’m also hoping to do a series of works focusing on details within nature, such as the flowers and plants in my communal garden area and a small local park. I’ve missed visiting the vast expanses of nature that are usually depicted in my work but have also come to better appreciate the beauty within small details of nature and finding inspiration from unexpected places.
What do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Alongside my art practice, I’m also an advocate for the anxiety disorder selective mutism, in which I write and present to generate understanding and acceptance. So, without my art, I would be working more on this, or something relating to the conservation and protection of the natural environment. These are, however, things that I plan to continue to do alongside being an artist. I find that many artists work on other projects alongside their art that feed into the work they make. Connections with different areas of work can also create collaborative opportunities.
Have you found any other artists on Singulart whose work you admire?
I’ve found many other artists on Singulart that I admire. I enjoy the sense of diversity within the gallery, both in the work displayed and the wide range of countries and backgrounds the artists are from. I love looking through the work of others, as well as displaying my own. Due to their natural subject matter and brilliant handling of paint, I particularly admire the work of Irina Laube, Oleg Riabchuk and Theo Leijdekkers.
What advice would you give to young artists starting out?
Being an artist often requires a lot of perseverance and resilience, and there will undoubtedly be many knocks along the way. However, if you feel passionately about the work you create, are open to opportunities, and are prepared to work hard, many doors will be opened for your creative practice; this can be incredibly rewarding.
Some tips that have helped me include having a good website or online portfolio to display your work, meeting others working within the art world, and discussing projects and ideas. These can be done in many ways, through social media, as well as finding events such as private views and attending lectures. Apply for competitions and open calls. Take advice on board while remembering to stay true to yourself.
Importantly, try not to compare yourself to where other artists appear to be. This can be especially hard with social media, but remember that everyone works most effectively at different paces and at different times. This of course applies to all areas of life!