Ingrid Daniell

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I grew up in Melbourne and have lived down on the surf coast of Victoria in Jan Juc for the past 25 years.
What’s your favorite part of living in Jan Juc?
We are lucky enough to live in a bush setting, and close to the ocean and surf. My favorite beaches are either a short walk or drive, and low tide at our closest beach offers the most dramatic and beautiful stretch of raw coast to explore.
Are you formally trained?
I have a BA in Textiles and Fashion at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, majoring in Costume Design. While I studied painting at university, I am largely self taught in my recent practice. When I started painting again I made a conscious decision to free my mind from previous influences, to play and express the landscape I loved in color and abstract form. From that starting point I have continued to develop and evolve my own style. Recently, I have been taking oil painting classes with Melbourne artist Jacqui Stockdale. Focusing on still life, it’s been great to rediscover oils, to expand my technique, and to study figurative painting for a change. Jacqui is a wonderful teacher and mentor pushing my practice forward. Local Geelong artist and friend Amber Stokie has also been a great influence and support. I love our studio catch ups and cuppa’s.
Your work predominantly relates to landscape - when did this interest begin?
I’ve always felt most at home in an unspoiled natural environment, it’s what gives me a sense of belonging. I’m drawn to raw nature, its beauty. It’s what inspires me most and I try to express the landscape in my work the way I respond to it emotionally. I started coming home from my daily walks with so much going on in my head that I needed to paint it out. There is so much of a bond between my emotional connection to the landscapes I paint and the landscape itself. This was probably where my interest in painting the landscape began. I think it’s been lying dormant for my whole life.
It’s what inspires me most and I try to express the landscape in my work the way I respond to it emotionally. — Ingrid Daniell
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it changing in the future?
I feel like my work has evolved over the past few years. I’ve refined my focus on the landscape and simultaneously loosened my painting style and approach. I’m always playing and exploring the push and pull of the paint, color palette, and aspect of the landscape.
What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?
Climate change, the human need of belonging, the Anthropocene, the ocean, low tide, rocks, reef, filtered views through trees, Time, Deep Time, and Memory.
Several of your recent collages make reference to the Anthropocene in the titles - can you talk more about that?
The term Anthropocene describes the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. I find context in my painting by using the landscape as a metaphor for our fragile earth, the devastation of climate change, and our human need to belong. Through painting, I identify the human and instinctive need to connect to the land, to the ocean, to a natural environment, and the landscapes that make up our identity from the past, present, and future.
What material objects are you most interested in representing through your works?
There is so much that I try to capture in my work: the tangible elements of the landscape, such as the cliffs, the rocks, or reef, draw me into my work - they are the core of most of my pieces. I also love to represent the trees or delicate foliage when giving context to certain scenes. The intangible moments are probably one of the most important part of my work: each work is deeply symbolic in its meaning, the weight of emotions relating to belonging, connection, love, memory, and time are recurring themes.
Through painting, I identify the human and instinctive need to connect to the land, to the ocean, to a natural environment, and the landscapes that make up our identity from the past, present, and future. — Ingrid Daniell
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
The obvious day-to-day inspiration comes from my time in the landscape. However, there are so many daily influences. I find flicking through my favorite artists on Instagram or through recent exhibition catalogues great fuel for my work. I do love to get into either my local Boom Gallery and the Geelong Gallery or, if time permits, up to the Melbourne galleries to see the current shows of established and emerging artists. There is always so much incredible contemporary art to access, which is such an exciting influence.
Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
I love the work of Marina Ambramovic, the emotion drawn out from her work is so intense and her work is so brave.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist?
A strong influence in my work is that of children’s author and illustrator Tove Jansson. Her Finn Family Moomintroll book was one of the first books that sang to me and her magical illustrations helped me dream beyond. Lately, I have been reading books that readdress Australian history; Bruce Pasco’s book Dark Emu paints the most incredible and important picture of pre colonial Australia, and another author Billy Griffiths’ Deep Time Dreaming, which explores ancient Australia, looking into archaeology and its impact and influence on our understanding of deep time and Aboriginals’ intrinsic connection with country and culture.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
I usually start my day walking along the beach or on the cliff top along the surf coast in the morning, often taking my camera and capturing the many moods of the coast. I get into my studio with green tea on hand and I find which podcast or music I’m in the mood for.

Often, I have several pieces on the go and depending at which stage they are at, that will dictate my day! The thrill of a blank canvas is always exciting, but then the days I know I’m close to finished with a piece are always a buzz. When I’m working on my collage I tend to spread out into the living room, taking over the dining table and my studio floor. It’s an organized chaos, sifting through my painted, torn pieces to deconstruct symbolic landscapes. There’s a lot of playing with combinations before I commit to the final paste. I tend to work during the week, my studio days start around 9 am and go until 4:30 or 5 pm. I try to stay organized so I can fit in with my family schedule. Although, there are random nights when I will go back into the studio and work till the early hours of the morning, or early morning starts.

What necessities do you require when making your art?
Music or podcasts, depends on my mood what I listen to, but I’m a sucker for post punk to fire me up if I’m needing a nudge to get going! My studio walls are covered with photos and references of details, rocks, seascapes, and landscapes I have photographed. I have my most recent images in view.

I have my trusted stash of paint brushes and there’s nothing better than a blank canvas or the chaos that starts on a clean drop sheet after tearing up my painted paper for a collage session.

How do you choose your materials?
I’m drawn to surfaces that have a beautiful hand feel: cotton rag, Belgium Linen, raw cotton canvas, hardwood, or cotton twill canvas. I love working with acrylic paint due to its immediacy and ability to allow me to keep working without losing my creative flow.
How does your choice of material inform the final piece?
I find the choice in material gives my work various moods. Working on hardwood feels more immediate to working on the canvas or Belgium Linen, the layering is less important to the initial marks laid down. I also tend to let the wood come through in my work. Working on paper with a view to collage is more of a process of chaos and control, the final work is less about a clear construct, it is a solving of a puzzle that never existed.
How do the different elements come together in your works on paper?
It’s a bit like a puzzle, finding balance with the disorder of torn landscapes, reconstructing symbolic scenes of a deconstructed landscape. I have all my torn pieces in groups of ‘color’ or hue, shapes are placed on the white cotton rag and from there the play begins, shifting pieces around until the right balance reveals in each work.
How do you see working in painting versus collage as different in terms of decision-making?
I find painting is more planned out, I guess. I work with my images and drawings to create the scene. There is a element of structure to my approach when painting and with collage it is completely unplanned. The landscapes come out of the chance relationship between the torn and cut painted works, very much like finding the right pieces in a puzzle.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
I think the most difficult part of my process can be narrowing down my starting focus. With no shortage of inspiration and ideas, I can find it hard to decide which aspects or landscapes best support my narrative and provide a fresh challenge. But, then again, it is also the challenge of this that helps push my work to a new level, focus, and voice. When out in the field I take so many photos. Sifting through these and selecting the images can take days, especially when starting a new body of work for a solo show.
How do you incorporate chance in your creative process?
There are so many aspects of my process that are left to chance, instinct, and my emotional response on any given day. My collage work is all completely chance, re-organized chaos, and elements that come together out of play and discovery and chance. I love the sense of adventure I feel when working with these uncharted landscapes, a feeling I have when exploring remote country, hiking through dramatic, wild landscapes! The painting process in my works on canvas uses the control of a more literal landscape to anchor the scene, with the chance use of color, stroke, loose paint, and bold forms to highlight depth and give texture to the focus of my work.
To what extent do you plan the colors that go into a painting?
With my painting I tend to have a palette that I consider before I start, although the painting process is always open chance as the paints mix and merge.
What about the colors that go into collage?
When painting the paper works for deconstruction it is loose and unplanned, a lot of play and instinct as I paint. Paper tends to make me work faster with less control allowing the colors, wash, marks, and brush strokes to create beautiful movement and texture.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just spent the last three months traveling throughout remote Australia, through the central desert, the far northern Kimberly’s, down through the western desert coast and across the Nullarbor, the southern desert coast. I am going to draw from this incredible wealth of country for my next solo show and supporting work, painting on raw canvas and experimenting with more collage. I’m itching to get back to my studio to expand on my field work to date!

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