In the studio with Tanya-Marie Reeves



Favourite material to work with?

Acrylics (flow) are my favourite paints, they are vibrant and dry quickly. I love to paint on paper predominantly used for sketching, like stonehenge (I adore the absorbency and instant saturation), however mounting and framing winds up very expensive... so I generally use stretched canvas, though sometimes I cover the canvas with calico which also creates that beautiful mat, brushed saturation.

What themes do you pursue?

Hmmm. Let me think. I don't really paint with a theme in mind, but (looking around at my work...) I think subconsciously it is about harnessing the female form, and portraying a woman's beauty, strength and sexuality through it.

How many years an artist?

I had always had a talent for drawing as a young girl but had never genuinely picked up a paint brush until I was about 18. I painted and sketched on and off as a hobbyist from then on for many years, and in 2005 (when I was 31 years old) I began to think seriously about painting for real and from 2011 I began painting full time. (That makes me 41 for those of you calculating! *eeek!)

What should people know about your art that they can't tell from looking at it?

Because I use block colour, people often misjudge the amount of time I put into my work. Also, as a rule, no masking is involved, all my fine lines are created with a steady hand, concentration and a damn good brush. So there is roughly 20-30 hours of time in each painting (for work approximately one metre squared), and that is just painting time, not including any prep work.

Which living or dead artist would you most like to meet?

Oooo tough one... As well as maintaining my own gallery of work, I also keep an art blog featuring female artists from around the world, and celebrating those now past, so I am always discovering and learning about new artists, though my steady favourites are Gustav Klimt and Tamara de Lempicka. Please don't make me choose!

(Btw My blog is at www.freshandrawsheisart.com and also includes inspirational quotes from literature, "The Muses" of famous artists present and past, and "The Centrefold"... male artist of the month.)

Tell us about your studio. Location, clean, cluttered, big, small, etc?

Atm my studio is a terrible mess as I am in the process of getting ready to relocate so I have crap everywhere... and it is driving me absolutely bat crazy! Usually EVERYTHING is in its place. Before I get started on a new piece I always have to do a complete tidy up because there is no way I can concentrate on my work if my surroundings are a mess. I have a six-seater-dining-sized table (I don't use an easel) in the middle of my space which is average room sized, with a sink to one side and a lot of shelving. It could definitely absolutely be bigger (who even ever has a big enough studio anyway???), plus my work area comes directly off of my gallery so it is also my kitchenette, office and storage area. (I know right???)

Art school or self-taught?

Gosh I go on don't I? This one is quick and easy. Self taught.

Do you prefer to work with music or in silence?

My gallery and studio are in the main street of my home town in Broken Hill, so there is always a bit of street and traffic noise, plus visitors and I always have music playing (lots of 80's), but mostly for the customers. If my studio stood alone I would have the radio on quietly (I like the conversation as opposed to all music all of the time), or the television. Mostly I like to work quietly with background noise... but am known to crank up a song or two along the way.

Favourite brush?

I like to use a taklon or nylon brush. Flat and short with a razor straight edge. Mont Marte, Art Spectrum. Atm I am loving Art Basics Golden Nylon.

Where can we find you outside of the studio?

I am definitely a home body, especially through the winter months so if I don't have to be anywhere, home is where I'll be! However, I am a gym goer and I'll even have coffee with my girls or my sister and cousins on occasion. Mostly, because I am a single mum of two teenagers (12 year old boy and 14 year old girl), the supermarket is often somewhere I hang out. A lot. And the local soccer grounds are also a very popular destination...

If you couldn't be an artist, what would you do?

I was always one of those people that never really knew (or could never decide upon) what I wanted to do with my life, so I'm not really sure... A photographer, or, I like to write and have often thought about that, so perhaps a novelist? I also love history and modern art history is something I am looking at studying in the future. So there's that.

Interests other than art?

I do like my children, my family and my partner (when I get to see him that is, as he lives and works 1200kms away!) and my friends. I like to go to the gym and burn calories so I can eat more kit-kats and lots of other food. I like to spend hours watching TV shows. I like taking photos. I like bush walking with kids and dogs. I like my cat. I like my dogs. I like watching horrible histories, deadly 60 and that twin doctor show on ABC 3. I like Buffy. I like Anne Rice novels. I like foxes, high heel shoes and old abandoned castles. I like dancing and singing my thoughts (or songs) loudly and badly, embarrassing my kids and making them laugh. I like spending time alone. I like summer time. I like eating frozen Farmers Union Iced Coffees with a spoon. I like being amazed learning about history and sometimes other stuff. I like watching my kids play soccer. I like making things look pretty... and neat and tidy. I like Disney. I like Google and thesauruses. I like traveling, breakfast and lazy Sundays...

Omg I could go on... but I should stop.

What do you collect?

Junk. I collect lots of old junk. Mostly for future projects that never get done. Oh and Donald Ducks. I collect Donald ducks.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

I don't know that anyone has actually given me any advice when it comes to my being an artist, but the best I have come across is to never compare your art with anyone else's but your own.

Are there messages within your work?

I don't intentionally set out to send a message through my art, however the more I am asked about it and the more I think on it as I analyse my work I believe I am conveying a woman's sense of self. Her individualism, her beauty, strength and sexuality.

What does your art process entail?

The very beginnings of inspiration for a new painting is to look for a pose. I will often troll through images of Avant Garde fashion photography, ballet, dance, naked portraiture and/or body-scapes to find just the right one. Once I have the pose that strikes me (YES!) I take it from there, drawing up a rough sketch adding patterns and geometrical shapes which contrast the lines of the main silhouette. From there I sketch my plan on to a blank canvas (always making changes and additions to the new layout). Once I am happy with that I start to add colour. Most often I already have an idea of the colour scheme I want to use, never-the-less the palette almost always changes as I progress. Most colours need to be applied and reapplied at least 3 times to completely saturate the canvas, some pigments (like red in particular *grrr) need 5 or 6 coats, sometimes more. Then finally... Voila! (Or so I think... even at this point, if I am not happy, I'll will make alterations to the outline or completely change out a colour... and there are a few that get shelved altogether!)

What are your inspirations?

I am inspired by brilliant block colour and striking contrast; by the sensual curves of the female body and the faultless lines of geometry and pattern; by stunning beauty and bold fashion; by feminine sensuality and mystery; and by womanly sexuality and strength.

Which art materials could you not live without?

I can not live as an artist without a smooth flat brush with a super straight edge. And lip balm. And musk Lifesavers. I can't paint without lip balm and musk Lifesavers.