Tell us a little bit about yourself & what kind of artist you are.
My name is Nigel Roberts, although many people will know me as Freebird or Free (online & in Real Life™). I grew up in Cheshire (UK), and after 23 years in uniform I’m back where I started. I have 3 daughters, 6 grandkids and I’m not as old as that makes me sound! Apart from art, you’ll also find me drinking coffee & eating cake at the Cubby Hole, baking bread, helping to run a pagan online forum, making marmalade gin, or wandering around the country visiting gatherings & camps in Vivian (my van). My background isn’t the arts, it’s engineering/science. Art was a complete non-starter at school, and for most of my life everything was very structured, I could appreciate art, but had no urge to make anything unless it was functional. In 2006 life turned upside down, and I started dabbling with beads, which led me to a craft forum and card-making, which led to scrapbooking, and that was the start of a slippery slope. I’m now an eclectic artistic crafter; or should that be a crafty artist? I’ll have a go at anything; journaling, altering, painting, mixed media and more. In the few years since I first picked up a broken necklace and some beads, I’ve gone from a complete novice to running workshops at camps and the Cubby Hole, even though I’m still very much a beginner. I’m not sure if I have a style, although some of my work is probably quite recognisable to those who know me. Inspiration can come from anywhere; my beliefs, people I create with, a snippet of a song on the radio, a word, a phrase, other people’s blogs…..
What is the biggest challenge you personally face as an artist and how do you overcome it?
Apart from the usual lack of time/mojo/inspirationthat we all suffer from, I guess my biggest challenge is getting the ideas out of my head and onto paper/canvas. Sometimes a piece just happens (such as the steampunked butterfly). But I frequently know exactly what I want to create and that’s when I tend to hit a problem, which is a lack of ability (or should I say experience). As I said before, my background isn’t in the arts, and most of what I know is either self taught or comes from craft workshops, which means there’s big holes in my ability. I’ve never used oils; I struggle with faces, and so on. And it stops me dead in my tracks. No matter how much we say it’s all about the ideas, or the inspiration or whatever; at the end of the day if you’re missing a basic skill or technique it’s a problem. Thankfully, there is a solution; it’s called learning. I’ve now learnt how to do eyes, and I can do hair so only noses and mouths to go. I’ve got to grips with watercolour and acrylics, next up is gouache, and then it’s on to oils. It’s hard work sometimes, but I get there.
What do you most wish your art to achieve?
It probably sounds clichéd, but mostly I want it to lift people’s spirits, either by making them smile, or shining a light in the darkness. Some of my pieces are created for specific people, but most is just me being creative, but they frequently end up being given away to somebody who needs it. One thing is for sure, I’ll never get rich through my creations.
What is the best thing / worst thing that art has brought into your life?
Best thing - People, without a doubt. I’ve been very lucky to get to know some very talented, and very wonderful people. There are some amazingly talented people out here on the interweb thingie, who are quite happy to share their creativity, and mostly without any bitchiness (or maybe I’ve just been lucky). But, even better, there’s a great bunch of people at the Cubby Hole who can be relied on to offer some useful advice/criticism when a piece isn’t going well. Alternatively they’ll offer cake.
Worst thing – frustration! ;)
Tell us where can we find out more about you & your art?
You can take a look at my blog http://freebird795.blogspot.co.uk/ and you’ll also find me lurking on FB, G+ & Twitter (links on blog).
You’ll sometimes also find me on http://cubbyholecctvs.blogspot.co.uk/ which is our local art & craft shop, and a thriving little community, full of wonderful people.
Thank you Nigel, after reading your interview I like to think of your can of worms page as your introduction into crafts - starting off on one thing, then finding another and another. I think that's many of our stories upon discovering our creative side, usually forged through seeking the therapy and peace creating something brings, which in turn takes us down a rabbit hole until we discover our niche. And don't count your chickens re: not getting rich from your creations, I know that's not what creativity is about but none of us can predict the future ;)
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