There is a quiet intensity that surrounds Rowena and her passion and dedication is evident as soon as we begin chatting about her work. Based in Victoria’s coastal town of Jan Juc, Rowena draws inspiration not only from her surroundings but is also motivated by the intended destination of her art. In fact if I could think of one word to describe Rowena it would be spatial. Not just in the literal consideration of the forms in front of her but also in her awareness of the environment. Rowena has an acute understanding of the influence that colours, forms and textures have within a space and that is often conscious during her creative process. Her colours can only be described as breathtaking. She creates harmony with her colour combinations whilst managing to slap you in the face at the same time. Delicate they are not, powerful yes they are. Which I guess can also be said about Rowena herself.
I believe this latest collection is some of Rowena’s finest work to date. She has explored new techniques, new colours and that freedom and new energy can easily be felt. But enough from me, let’s hear what Rowena has to say…
Can you describe the feeling you get when you’re painting?
I guess the feeling I get when I paint is a bit of excitement. Sometimes, it’s total anxiety, but as I travel through the work I’m constantly analysing what I’m doing, problem solving, and in the end it’s the satisfaction.
When did you realise you were a little more creative than the rest?
I guess I’ve always been a creative. I don’t know whether it’s about comparing myself to others, but for me, it was just something I always did through primary school. I did classes with my mom and through school. The art room was the place I always hung out. So it was always in me.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
My inspiration comes mostly from where I live. The beautiful setting of the south coast, but at the end of the day, I’m really inspired by where my work ends up. I might be working towards a brief, to create a piece for a beautiful home, or for a foyer, or a facade of a building. So I’m inspired by what my work can do for a space.
So you think about where your artwork is going to exist and how it’s going to live with its surroundings?
Yeah and how a painting might activate an environment, especially on the larger scale.
Where do you hope these paintings will end up?
Ideally, I hope my paintings end up in a home, where someone really appreciates them. Where they get uplifted by the colours, and the feeling and energy that goes into the paintings.
How would you describe this new body of work, and how do you think it’s evolved from previous works?
In this new body of work, there has been a slight diversion, where some of the canvases have come off the wall and I’ve been working on them on the floor. So a slight departure from the dripping veils of colour that a lot of people know about, and lots of expressive gestures and linear line making across the canvas while it’s on the floor.
How did that first come across, changing the physicality of going from wall to floor?
It’s certainly a new process and something I’m still discovering and figuring out how it’s going to work. I have worked like this in the past doing my larger, public works that have ended up on buildings. Where I’ve created, 15 by 18 metre work on the ground and used giant brushes, brooms and mops as paint brushes. So it was exciting to get back to using bigger brushes and mark-making instruments.
Was it important to you to try a different style? Were you bored in anyway with what you were doing before?
It’s not that I was bored, but I just wanted to push my work further and see where it could go. And just explore, really explore different mediums and take it to the next level, as a painter.
How do you think it differs from your previous body of work?
I guess it’s quite energetic, because there’s a lot of movement. I am part of the work in that I’m reaching over it and literally moving through it. I’m standing amongst the painting, as I’m working on it. They are still very colourful. I’d say they are vibrant, energetic, abstract.
Have your paintings always been colourful?
Pretty much. There’s kind of no going back once you start. Once you buy your first bowl of fluorescent paint… it’s hard to go back from that.
What’s your favourite colour?
Most likely pink. Yeah. There tends to be pink creeping into everything that I do.
How do you start a new artwork?
Firstly, I clear the deck in my studio. I put all of my paints away. Wash all my brushes. Get a bit of organisation and make some space, because it’s easy for this stuff to end up everywhere. I put out the canvases, spread them around, and work on a few pieces at once, and then I just start building up layers.
Do you think about the end result when you start?
It depends. With some works I have a vision for the kind of feel and how I want the work to look. So, certainly, if I’m creating a specific work for a space, I have an outcome that I want to reach but with other pieces, they take their own journey, evolve and change, and often end up totally different to where I might have anticipated they’d go.
Could you describe your work in three words?
I’d describe my work as colourful, expressive, and vibrant.
What’s the most important part of your creative process?
I think the most important part of my creative process is being consistent and motivated, and always doing something towards my painting. A lot of my inspiration comes from the process. So it’s really important to always get into the studio and just work on something.
Do you have a routine when it comes to creating?
I don’t have a routine. It’s really important for me to just get started in the mornings, and begin painting when I’m fresh.
How do you know when you finished a piece?
I know a piece is finished when I can see that it’s balanced. That there’s nothing that I’m questioning in it, and sometimes, I wonder if that’s ever going to happen, but … then, it can happen suddenly. So it’s just a point that the painting gets to, and you know.
How long do you often spend on an artwork?
Sometimes, I might work on a piece for a couple of days and it just flows and resolves itself really quickly. Other works might stay on the wall for a month, and I’m still frustrated, and they’re not resolved, and they might get rolled up and put away. Then I’ll get them out again, a few months later, and try again to make it work. But generally, a couple of weeks.
Why did you want to collaborate in Hunting With George?
I liked the idea of collaborating with Hunting For George because they’re really passionate about what they do, and motivated, and I think that really shines through in their business. I love the fact that I’m part of that.
Thanks! What type of person do you think will be drawn to your work?
You can never really tell who’s going to be drawn to my work, but anyone that responds to colour responds to my work.
Where do you hope your paintings end up?
I hope my paintings end up in a home where they’re loved and appreciated. I hope my paintings end up in a home where someone just really loves them.
What do you love most about creating?
I love that I can be my own boss and work to my own time frame.
Could you imagine yourself as anything other than a painter?
Not really. I love being a creative, I love working within the community with other creatives and being nourished by that.
You’re also part of a power duo. Yourself and Geoffrey Carran. What’s your household like? Is it always filled with creativity, art and colour? Do you inspire one another to do more?
Yeah. Our creative household is a work in progress. We’ve just painted it and we’re constantly moving artworks around on the walls, but we also like to keep it a bit neutral, because our head space and workspace is so full of colour and activity, it’s nice to have a more neutral living space, but there’s certainly a constant dialogue about our creativity and our business.
It must be great to be able to share that with someone that’s doing something similar, but yet also quite different?
Yeah, I’m very lucky to have a creative as a partner, because being a painter can be quite isolating and you’re constantly working in your own head to resolve things. So it’s really great to be able to share that with someone else.
Be the first to view this incredible collection. Join us for a drink on Thursday 20 July at the Hunting for George Showroom to help us celebrate the opening of the Rowena Martinich exhibition! Our doors are open from 12 – 6pm, 31 Wangaratta Street Richmond.
If you can’t make it in store, no worries. The entire collection is also available to purchase online.
Exhibition opening hours
- Thursday 20th July – 12pm – 6pm
- Friday 21st July – 10am – 5pm
- Saturday 22nd July – 10am – 5pm
- Sunday 23rd July – Closed
- Monday 24th July – By Appointment
- Tuesday 25th July – By Appointment
- Wednesday 26th July – By Appointment
- Thursday 27th July – By Appointment
- Friday 28th July – 10am – 5pm
- Saturday 29th July – 10am – 5pm
- Sunday 30th July – Closed
We hope to see you there! Don’t forget to RSVP on our Facebook event to be kept in the loop.