Sif Nørskov

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I am from Denmark, not from any particular part, I always moved around a lot with my mum as a child, so I have lived in most parts of the country. When I was 18, I moved to London and have lived here ever since.
What’s your favorite part of London?
It seems to change a lot, there is always a new area to explore. At the moment I am enjoying south-west London around Greenwich, as I recently moved there. It’s quite hilly so there are some great views of London as well as a lot of greenery around, something I have been missing.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
Each day is different for me in terms of how I work and how much I work, but I try to maintain a routine of arriving in the morning, having a lunch break, and leaving in the early evening. This helps me to stay focused, but I still work in different ways. Sometimes I’ll work on one painting only, and at other times I’ll be working on several at once or only do sketches and research for an entire day. Some of my paintings have ended up only taking one or two days to make, while others have taken much longer.
What necessities do you require when making your art?
To me, painting while listening to music or even a radio program is often a necessity as it somewhat shuts out the rest of the world and brings my focus to what I am working on. I also have several old, cheap brushes that are necessary for me to have because they allow me to create certain textures that brushes with finer bristles wouldn’t be capable of.
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
My work has developed massively in the past few years. I have experimented a lot, but have found that the key things that interested me along the way still exist within the works today. The most notable thing is that I have always been intrigued by the idea of somehow creating a fictional world and I draw on literature a lot as a source of inspiration for my work. But despite the fact that my work has undergone many changes, I think that this was necessary for me in order to define my key interests and to discover how I really wanted to work. In that sense, I don’t see any radical changes in the near future, but I know that I will keep improving my techniques and exploring new imagery and ideas.
Imagery is an interesting concept in relation to your work - do you see repeated elements across your work as imagery, or are there more literal components?
I think it is a combination of both. There are certain brush strokes and shapes that have become instinctive to my way of painting, and these form different imagery within the context of each painting. The more literal components of the works are mountains and rock-like shapes or objects that appear in most of my works, often inspired by imagery derived from novels, film, classical landscape painting, and music.
Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
Literature is my most important influence, especially magical realism and the novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His language is abundant and intense, but at the same time, I am also inspired by more minimal writing like the poems by Swedish writer Tomas Tranströmer that express different layers of meaning in very few words.
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
Unpredictable things, being lost, fluffy things, mountains, pine forests, beasts, the smell of grass, clear water, dark fairy tales, feeling at home in a new place, sunshine in winter, small things next to big things.
What themes or motifs are you consistently drawn to?
I think that I have always been drawn to things that are dark and challenging, like brutal and unforgiving northern landscapes. I derive most of my motifs from this. Apart from that, I am drawn to the utopian and dystopian elements of fiction, as I am interested in exploring painting as an intermediary between what we imagine and what really is.
Have you always been a painter?
For a long time I thought I wanted to be a photographer, but during my undergraduate studies, I realized that with painting I could, in a sense, make something from nothing, and that this provided the creative freedom that I was looking for. Once I started painting, I knew that I would not be able to stop, as the possibilities and challenges within painting seem almost endless.
I am drawn to the utopian and dystopian elements of fiction, as I am interested in exploring painting as an intermediary between what we imagine and what really is. — Sif Nørskov
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
I often struggle to decide when a painting is finished, a classic problem. Due to the nature of my work and my technique of layering, each painting goes through odd stages that often prompt a minor crisis, but this is almost always resolved. Quite often I will leave a painting for a few days and find that it already has a presence about it that I don’t want to alter.
Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?
I think chance is a major factor within my work, whether it is conscious or subconscious. To me, allowing chance to play a role in my creative process helps to create paintings that are lively reflections of something rather than pure constructs. It is often when I stop analyzing and planning too much and grab whatever brush and paint that is within reach that I achieve the best results. The journey to the studio, the music I am listening to, the things I am thinking about at that specific moment all have an impact on what I create, and in my case, it would have probably looked different had I painted something five minutes earlier or on a different day.
Do you see your works as unique or as part of a series?
I see them as unique. But when exhibited together, I like to see them as forming a kind of narrative.
To me, allowing chance to play a role in my creative process helps to create paintings that are lively reflections of something rather than pure constructs. — Sif Nørskov
How important is spontaneity in your art?
Very important. Most of the decisions I make while painting are spontaneous, as I find that working from a concise plan often results in work that lacks energy and tension. I tend to have an image in my mind of how I want a painting to look, but I know from experience that it will never look like that. Instead, I use that image as a starting point and work with what is happening on the canvas, solve problems and implement new ideas and techniques during the process.
Do you incorporate sketching in your planning process?
I generally don’t work directly from sketches, I do however make a lot of small works on paper where I take ideas from in terms of color and composition. It is a good way to try out techniques as paper is less precious, and I discover things that I might not have discovered had I worked on a larger scale alone.
How do you choose your materials?
I mostly choose my materials based on my knowledge of how they perform in relation to what I want to achieve. Because there is a lot of layering in my paintings, I generally work with acrylic as it dries faster, but also because I like to work fast. Sometimes I’ll use oil paint for a specific color or vibrance.

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