Alice is an artist producing striking, abstract canvases with intriguing titles like Poems in the Air or Unreliable Narrator.
20 years ago she and her husband Paul, an environment lawyer, moved into a derelict house in Merton Avenue with no electricity and flowers growing through the floorboards. They renovated that then moved to St Albans Avenue with their two children where she now has her studio at the top of their home.
Taking inspiration from a series of smaller panels
“My process has changed a huge amount in the last three years. I used to paint small pieces and then took part in Artists at Home in 2009 and was completely fired up by that. I had 20 small paintings that had taken me three years to create. Having to get all the pieces together was hard work, but I loved meeting people and seeing their reaction to my work. I sold 17 pieces so thought “oh maybe I should take this more seriously”.
“My pieces have gradually got bigger and bigger. There’s a whole different set of practical issues with working on a bigger canvas, the sheer quantity of paint you get through. And, unlike small panels, you can’t change your mind.”
Studying the small canvas to inform the pink and blue composition
Her process begins with her working on several random boards, applying colour and collage and bits of print, building them up with no particular plan. She showed me one of her smaller panels as an example of an unexpectedly successful combination of colours. “I love this soft, salmony pink colour with the bright blue and the olivey green.
She plays with thick and thin paint, using big brushes and the side of her hand and wiping it off with cloth. Then towards the end, if there is something a bit loose or scrappy, makes tiny adjustments with a small brush. “Little brushes at the beginning are a mistake as you get too fussy too soon”
Alice uses acrylic and has several canvases on the go as she likes there to be a relationship between the work. And as she is brimming with ideas, working on multiple canvases gives her the option to spread them over several pieces rather than cram them into one piece. Here is her no drawing sketchbook which she collates to discipline her use of colour and simplify compositions.
She also studies her work in black and white on her phone to help adjust the balance of dark and light within a composition.
Alice’s background was in graphic design so although her work has a landscape feel and looks spontaneously loose, she likes to combine this with a sharp, urban edge, the juxtaposition lending her pieces a considered and refined appearance without being contrived.
Alice and Indy
A typical day is spent walking the dog, Indy in Chiswick Park, followed by domestic chores and catching up on social media – she has a huge Instagram following, and loves the direct communication with her fans. She then sets to painting at around 11 until her daughter, Amy, aged 14, comes home from school.
Alice doesn’t go to blockbuster exhibitions in town, rather seeks inspiration from “just getting out and getting off at a tube station you’ve never been to. I take a lot of photographs, which I don’t use in my work; it’s just a way of isolating things that I’m interested in. I also look at artists’ work that I envy, such as the Cornish painters and try and identify what it is in theirs that I want in mine. It might be an expression, or more colour limitations, something that I don’t yet have. I get restless, always looking for something different.”
Inspiration and Mood Boards
“I love Chiswick as I can get almost anything I need without getting into the car. I miss some of the shops that have closed – the old hardware shop on Turnham Green Terrace, there’s a lot of hardware involved in painting, weird things like rolls of sandpaper and masking tape, and screws for hanging shows.”
“I love the fact that you can get on the tube and be in central London very quickly. Chiswick is laid back and suburban, but then you get on the tube and there’s a feeling of everyone being busy and you see posters telling you what you can do.”
Alice’s top tip in Chiswick – “The best Portuguese custard tarts can be bought at Hack & Veldt in Turnham Green Terrace, and they’re the best price. I just love the super crunchy outside and the soft eggy custard middle. I always get a few pretending it’s for other people and then keep them for me”, she confided.
“I’ve been reading The Chiswick Calendar since it started. I’ve got the card but forget to use it but I was looking at the list the other day and everyone is on it so it made me think you just have to ask. I visit The Chiswick Calendar exhibition each year at the Clayton Hotel and got to know the photographer Jon Perry through that and then he showed here in my house at last year’s Artists at Home.”
Alice is offering The Chiswick Calendar readers complimentary tickets to the Surrey Contemporary Art Fair 15-17 March where she will be exhibiting next if you email her at firstname.lastname@example.org typing The Chiswick Calendar tickets in the subject field.
And she will be taking part in Artists at Home again this June. alicesheridan.com