In conversation with…Naomi Lutman
We talk to mixed-media artist Naomi Lutman, whose work includes painting and textiles, in the latest of our ‘In conversation…’ interviews.
I work in acrylics for my paintings, I love the way they dry quickly and are available in bright colours. I use merino wool for my felt work, one of the softest wools to create beautiful landscapes, florals and creatures.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Yes, ever since I can remember and I was always lucky to have access to creative materials. I would drive my mother crazy getting out my art and craft materials all over the kitchen floor! When it came to the time of choosing a degree subject, my parents steered me away from fine art because they thought it would never make me a living. I took graphic design instead and worked in London for three years in this profession. Once I returned to the countryside, I freelanced in design for a short while. After that I worked in retail and then corporate environments. In 2014 I left the corporate world and restarted my art practice which was the best decision I made.
What themes do you like to explore?
The natural world and the creatures that inhabit it have always been at the forefront of my work. I like to capture a creature’s soul and expose the very essence of their character, especially through their eyes. The theme of my first collection was around being an individual and celebrating who you are.
How has your work developed over time?
I started off with a collection of animals that were displayed in a local hair salon. They were fun to work on as the colours reflected the hair styling products on display in the salon and each creature had a different hair style! After watching tutorials on YouTube I created my ‘fuzzy florals’, a collection of supersized felt flowers mounted in box frames. I used beadwork to enhance their look and catch the light. From these I tutored workshops for people to have a go at needlefelting themselves, I really enjoyed the teaching and it was amazing what people produced given some had never tried the craft before! I now work on painting mandalas. They suit my current lifestyle. If you only have a couple of hours to get creative, they are a great way to dip in and out, by applying one colour at a time.
Do you ever get blocked? What helps you to be creative?
Yes I do, I have mental health challenges so have to find ways to motivate myself during the down times. Getting into the studio and being surrounded by other creatives helps. Working to complete a painting that has been going on for months by breaking it down into different coloured sections. Sometimes if I can’t muster the energy to paint, I simply work on some mindful colouring.
Who inspires you?
When I was younger, I used to watch the landscape artist Bob Ross; he made art so accessible and encouraged people to have a go. I love Grayson Perry and the way he can apply himself to a wide variety of mediums. He comes across as a very confident artist, he creates art and gets it out there, and does some interesting research for each piece. I also love the fantastical artwork of Ed Org and Brian Froud. I love how the mystical creatures, faeries and nymphs emerge from their environments. I am in awe of their work; it is very intricate and must take months to create.
Tell us about a recent piece of work.
I am working on a colourful mandala 50 x 50 cm across. The piece has grown organically, using a compass to initially map out the circles and interconnections. I outlined circles in white, then have been gradually filling in sections of colour. I have been inspired by pieces of art created in Costa Rica; the designs are decorative and bursting with colour.
What are your ambitions/hopes for the next five years?
I would love to try out painting with oils to create art that you can touch as well as look at. From this I’d love to curate an exhibition of touchable art and tie up with a charity that helps those who are blind or partially sighted. This idea was before the Covid pandemic, so I’m not sure how it would work in the ‘new normal’ – watch this space! I would also be open to teaching again, but maybe in a different medium this time.
How did you become involved with Arts Gateway/Arts Central?
I already was aware of Arts Gateway when they used to hold their on-site creative mingles. I saw a promotional message on Twitter about studio space and got in touch. When I came to have a look around, I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to be part of.
How has Arts Gateway/Arts Central helped you?
Since COVID, I sacrificed my home studio so that my husband could work from home and use the space as an office. Arts Central came along at the right time for me. It has allowed me the space to create what I want, when I want. I can leave everything out and don’t have to tidy things away each time. It’s such a blessing to be part of a creative community covering a wide variety of disciplines, it’s a very inspiring place.