Polly Merredew is an artist living and working in the UK and we’re delighted to be presenting some of her work this month. You can see more of Polly’s work on her Facebook page and website (which is currently being redone) via the links at the bottom of this page.
Did you study art? If so, where?
I studied Fine Art at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, achieving a BA (Hons) in Fine Art in 2003.
Why do you like Op Art?
I love colour and am fascinated with the way spatial depth and movement can be created by the use of colour relationships. I am interested in how the same composition can be used but changing the colours can create a very different outcome.
The idea of invoking a physical reaction or sensation in the viewer through clever use of colour intrigues me. Standing in front of a Bridget Riley painting makes me feel overwhelmed, inspired, and curious and excited…I want to make other people feel that way when they look at my work. I also like the fact that you don’t need any specialist art knowledge to enjoy Op Art and many people seem to either love it or hate it!
How do you make your art?
All my paintings are planned using paint and paper. I like working with materials, mixing the colours and producing something tangible that I can work with in planning the final piece.
A painting usually begins with an idea of the colour relationships that I would like to explore. From there I begin to mix colours, making swatches or colour charts that I can move around in order to investigate how the different colours will interact with each other.
Once I have an idea of how I might want the painting to work I go ahead and make it! This is quite a risky way of working as I really have no idea how the finished piece will look. This is part of the fun and excitement for me as things often happen that I cannot anticipate. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I have several paintings that will never see the light of day in my studio!
What’s the process for making one of your artworks?
Once I have decided the final composition I will draw it up onto canvas. This can take hours as the measurements have to be so precise and I often have to draw and redraw to get it accurate. From there I will use tape to mask off certain areas and start to paint. I like to achieve clean lines between painted areas but will leave small marks to distinguish it as a handmade piece. Once I have painted the whole piece I will spend hours looking at it, repainting areas that I am not happy with until I am satisfied it is finished. I do find it hard to walk away – I’m such a perfectionist.
Any other art you like and other artists that inspire or have inspired you?
I love the work of many artists… to name a few: Ian Davenport, Polly Apfelbaum, Monet. I also stumbled across an artist called Piero Dorazio whilst on holiday in Greece a few years ago who totally inspired me.
I love designers such as Kaffe Fassett, Orla Kiely, Amy Butler and Cath Kidston who all work with colour and pattern in a bold and beautiful way.
What do you like doing outside of your artwork?
I just love being creative so will try my hand at anything. I love to sew, particularly patchwork and also make cards. I also have 2 small children who keep me extremely busy and inspire me every day with their wonder and awe at the world.