Monday, 13 November 2017

Meet Cecilia Timm — Challenge Member

Cecilia Timm, self-portrait


Where do you live? Tell us about your family:

I live in Bonnet Bay, a leafy southern suburb of Sydney. I have an incredibly cool family. My sister lives around the corner and we call our combined family “Team Bonnet Bay”. We party hard together, share the good and bad times, and we always have each other’s backs. It makes you feel safe in the world to know you have a team backing you up.

Vintage me, with the best chicks in the world

Have you formally trained as an artist or illustrator? Describe your art background/journey:

I have not been traditionally trained at all. I applied for art school straight out of high school, but thankfully didn’t get in. I’ve been told by many artists that it can stifle your creativity, and I am a bit of a delicate flower so, in the end, I think it was the best thing for me.

I got accepted into BcS at Sydney Uni and majored in Biochemistry. This is why I love drawing scientific illustrations. I really feel like science and art are connected, so it’s hard for me to separate one from the other.

My mother is very creative and is herself a painter. She and I often paint together. She is responsible for making me into the artist I am today.

Week 33 2017: Sadness

Are you a full-time artist or do you have to juggle your creative projects with other responsibilities? 

I work as a freelance artist + illustrator + website designer + marketing specialist. You would think that is the perfect combination to promote myself as an artist, but, for some reason, marketing does not come easily when you’re trying to promote yourself LOL.

Week 45 2016: Zebra

Where is your favourite place to create and illustrate? Describe your routine:

I have a wonderful studio/study just off my bedroom. It is a great space with a lovely floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the leafy green back yard and the bush beyond. I was very fortunate to find a tilted drawing table on gumtree for $15, but the table top was horrendous and it wasn’t tall enough.

A great friend of mine, who is a builder, took the legs and made them much longer (as I am very tall) and custom-built me a beautiful wooden table top with a brass trim. It’s a one-of-a-kind, and I wouldn’t part with it for the world. I prop my light box on one side of the table and do my freestyle drawings on the other side. I just stick my stock and reference material wherever I need it with Blue Tak and work away the hours… bliss! I also have another work area for my computer work, and I store most of my art supplies in this room.

However, I like to do acrylic painting in the lounge room, as I really need to live with a painting and see it out of the corner of my eye at unexpected times to know what is right and what is wrong with it. It’s the only way I can work. You could say it’s a pretty arty household.

When I am in too much pain, which can be often, I work sitting up in my bed (made bed, of course — I’m not a philistine) and work off my lap. I have managed to never get pen or watercolour paint on my doona, but I draw the line (see what I did there) at acrylic paint.

Self-portrait of my feet. This is my vista when I’m working from my bed; however, there is usually a laptop, lightbox or sketchpad higher up on my lap.

My amazing custom made drawing table

A lovely visitor who comes by every morning to visit outside my window

How would you describe your style? Do you have a favourite medium or subject matter?

I have a few different styles.

1) I like to hand draw illustrations with makers and then scan them in and colour them digitally in Photoshop and Illustrator. This is more of a minimalist cartoon style.

Minimalist cartoon style

2) For my commission works, I tend to work in a realistic style using water colour and pencils. I do pet and human portraits which make a lovely and thoughtful gift for Christmas or any special occasion. I love doing these, but I fall in love with the faces I draw and then have to say goodbye to them.

Pet portrait

3) I love to paint with acrylic paint and, at the moment, I am focusing on portraits. I do paint urban landscapes as well, but I am currently committed to painting only women. As a natural born feminist, I have noted that while we occasionally have artist gender parody in exhibitions, like The Archibald prize, there are always many more male subjects. I am passionate about painting women I admire and the series is going to be called “Women of Substance”.

Archibald Prize entry, 2016

How did you hear about the Challenge and when did you join? 

I joined in its second year, so I think that’s 3 years ago. An artistic friend of mine shared a blog post that featured her work and that was it — I was hooked. I had been stuck in a particularly dry creative spell, and the challenge got me going again. I don’t always get my submissions in on time, but I do feel a great sense of accomplishment when I’ve done every challenge for the year. I feel almost accountable to myself to do every single challenge.

Week 23 2017: Texture

What do you love about the Challenge? What have you learned?

It would be difficult to put into words what I’ve gotten out of the challenge.

1. I have made many new loving and supportive friends who I would never had met outside of the group.

2. I almost weekly create work of some kind. This has been a great discipline for me and can often help me get over drawers block, enabling me to get on with other works.

3. It has made me think about my style, and I like to have a common theme for the entire year. The first full year I did was about a little character called ‘Lil Wendy, and I told her story throughout the whole year. This year I decided to work on my obsession with detail and made a conscious decision to make my illustrations as minimal as possible. This has been very difficult, but I think, now, I’m getting there. I settled on placing my images in a circle and keeping detail to a minimum. It’s become very recognisable as 'me', which is nice.

4. The group is one of the only places on the internet that is free of trolls. It is such a supportive and loving community, and I have never personally witnessed any terrible behaviour. The only exception would be me accidentally dropping an f-bomb and having to edit my post… my bad! My language is often as colourful as my artwork!

5. I have learnt that it’s OK to reach out to my peers and ask for help. The community is very supportive in general and, through the personal connections I have made, I have learnt an enormous amount about techniques, business, barcodes, approaching retail stores, how to price my work and how to work through seemingly insurmountable blocks. There are truly beautiful and like-minded people in the world — many more than I previously thought. There is so much negativity in the world and this group is self-contained ray of sunshine that can nourish us all.

Lil Wendy, Week 41 2015: Sweets
Week 44 2017: Delicious

What is the favourite illustration you have done for the Challenge so far?

Out of my 2016 ‘Lil Wendy images, I particularly loved this one. It was the moment she had been building up to over the year — her transformation. And it was kind of a transformation for me, too. It was in this moment that I knew I was an illustrator.

Lil Wendy, Week 46 2015: Endangered

The 2015 Christmas Bonus Challenge was also a great one for me. It was an advent calendar and I loved it. I did 25 instead of 24 illustrations, as I wanted each illustration to match up to the previous one, resulting in a large 5 x 5 illustration to help people count down the days to Christmas.

It was so much fun and was very well received, so the following Christmas I decided to rework the concept, print it and sell it as a colouring-in advent calendar.

This year I also have Colouring 4 Christmas cards in a pack of 6. I’m selling both packs on my website. If it wasn’t for the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, and this particular bonus challenge, I would never have started Colouring 4 Christmas.

Advent Calendar Challenge 2015

Advent Calendar Challenge 2015

Do you have illustrators or artists who give you inspiration?

Oh, yes... how do I limit it to just a few?

Lisa Congdon
I love her work. She is an incredibly prolific and very famous illustrator from the US. She is a beacon of hope and someone I would like to emulate… one day… when I grow up.

Oliver Jeffers
Oliver lives in Brooklyn, New York, but he hails from Northern Ireland. His work is incredibly simplistic and somehow, at the same time, it can tell so much. He is part of the reason why I have challenged myself to become more minimalistic.

Liz Climo
Liz works on The Simpsons as an illustrator and, in her spare time, she draws adorable and very funny illustrations or cartoons about animals. She is very insightful and creates wonderful and colourful characters out of a few lines on a tablet. Amazing work.

Lil Wendy, Week 10 2015: Night

What are your creative goals?

When I grow up, I want to draw and write full-time. I am a liberated artist (now) and would love to achieve the same freedom with my writing. I have managed to curtail my inner critic (well, at least most of the time) when it comes to the visual arts, but for some reason, I can’t get past that voice in my head that tells me that everything I write is going to be terrible.

I have a futuristic scifi novel, a book of short stories, two fantastic novels based on family stories, and about 5 children’s books trapped in my head. The more time goes by, the more I want to get them out, and it would be wonderful to finally get them written down, as I’m always writing them in my head.

To be a truly independent, prolific and well-paid artist/author would be completely amazing. I have fantastical dreams of selling enough of my work to support my creative lifestyle and essential travel (for inspiration of course)… you never know, it might come true one day. 

Colouring 4 Christmas: Christmas Cards with a difference

Tell us something that we don’t know about you:

I have a weird neurological condition. I have some nerve damage and a strange cluster of symptoms, including a tremor in my hand, which is why my lines are sometimes wobbly.

I am very tall… at 6’3”

I laugh a lot.

I am moderately obsessed with symmetry… I prefer to draw things in a circular or square frame… none of this portrait and landscape business!

I dance in the lounge room on my own to stay sane

I adore chocolate and am possibly fully addicted… but only the expensive stuff…. no cheap chocolate for this chocoholic.

I love dogs more than most people — they’re just better.

I am a good cook and I love to create recipes.

I am a story collector. Perfect strangers come up to me in the street or on the train and tell me their deepest and darkest secrets. One day the great ones will find their way into my stories.

Colouring 4 Christmas: An Advent Calendar with a difference!

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