Dundas London: Hey Caitlin, great to be chatting! We’re really looking forward to hearing about your art, your passion for nature and your drive behind communicating the importance of it in your pieces. But first, can you tell us a little about yourself and what inspires you at the moment?
Caitlin Sarah Heslop: I think I’ve always found it hard to pin myself down to one particular thing, and I have never felt like I have to. So, I’m currently living and working in London as a freelance artist, teacher and working part time for a charity in a development role. I love nature, as comes through in my art, but could never separate that from a desire to be with people and work alongside others. Right now, I’m very inspired by the meeting place of nature with humans. Though my work is often void of a literal representation of people, the work itself becomes this meeting point.
DL: Why do you believe it’s important to capture nature and how does preservation come into that?
CSH: As human beings I think we have a tendency towards trying to control our environments, even though that control is an illusion and often crumbles. Simply sitting beneath a large tree or in front of a crashing ocean disrupts this tendency by confronting growth and life and movement that is constantly happening around us. This interest in capturing a sense of growth and life within my work touches on the importance of preserving, cultivating and celebrating green spaces, especially within London where I am currently living and working.
DL: Amazing stuff! Can you tell us a bit about what materials you work with and how they influence your style.
CSH: Whether using ink, oils or acrylic, I make use of layering to create depth whilst maintaining sensitivity of marks. Recently I have begun working in soft pastels, and love the painterly quality of this dry medium. I don’t enjoy blending them, so I'm led to create a mosaic like surface to build an image.
DL: Of all the landscapes you’ve experienced, which one has stood out to you the most? And which has been the hardest to capture?
CSH: In late 2020 I spent some time on the Pembrokeshire coast, and this was around the same time I started working with soft pastels. I think for most people, the coastal scenes I drew weren’t particularly unique, but because I had spent most childhood summers exploring these same scenes, the act of drawing them was imbued with nostalgia, gratitude and a sense of timelessness. Due to their personal significance, I think those were the most special, but also hardest, to capture.
DL: Starting on a blank canvas / piece of paper must be daunting at times. What have you learned about taking risks, pushing yourself and the adventure of that as an artist?
CSH: Beginning a new work can definitely be daunting. I used to encourage myself and my students to make any mark as quickly as they could just to get going. Taking risks is a huge part of any creative practice, but these can be slow, intentional and considered whilst still pushing you out of your comfort zone. I now find that I prefer giving more time to those initial moments: sitting with a blank piece of paper, and taking time to look at my surroundings.
DL: What do you hope to convey through your work?
CSH: Though my work consists of natural forms, most pieces fluctuate between abstraction and realism. I once heard someone say that some artists paint their inside world, and some artists paint the outside world so you, the viewer, can find your inside world. I think my work does the latter. Each piece invites you to reflect on your own experience of, and place within, nature.
DL: Incredible, that’s such a brilliant perspective! Colour plays a big part in our range of shirts. How does colour come into your process?
CSH: I love to capture a sense of vibrancy and liveliness, whether tonally or in colour. The more that I have explored colour, the more I have come to realise that colour relationships are far more important than how each one stands alone. The way they interact with one another can bring a multitude of dynamics to each drawing.
DL: And finally, how can our readers keep up with your work and browse your pieces?