“The ominous glow of the mountains burning really stuck with me, I felt I could only paint it out to cope with it”
Tracie MacVean is a talented artist based in Wodonga, Australia. Her beautiful paintings combine her two great passions in life: art and the environment. Through her work, MacVean wants to raise awareness that the natural world is threatened, and encourage people to take better responsibility for our planet.
In Tracie’s paintings, you will always find nature and natural elements, and the human form frequently depicted as a substitute where we would usually see native animals. Her powerful work has been recognized and she has earned several awards such as the “Emerging Artist Award” from the Chiltern Art Show, and the “People’s Choice” for the “Encompass” exhibition at Gigs Art Gallery.
In this Q&A, artist Tracie MacVean shares with PoseSpace details about her paintings of the bushfires in Australia, the process of making her work and how social media helped her gain commissions and sell artwork:
When did you first know you wanted to become an artist?
When I was a young teenager and my older sisters were creating beautiful art pieces but not pursuing it as a career. I knew if they wouldn’t, I would.
You are very active on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube. How have these platforms influenced your work?
I wouldn’t say social media has influenced my work heavily but it has helped me with gaining commissions and selling artwork. I am a little bit disappointed with the reach my YouTube channel has received considering the amount of effort I put into it. I believe I was a little late for the Instagram band-wagon but Facebook is the one that has been the most beneficial in getting my work out there.
You’ve been making beautiful and moving paintings of koalas and other animals in bushfires in Australia. Can you tell us more about this project or collection?
At the end of last year I was very close to one of the bushfires. The ominous glow of the mountains burning really stuck with me, I felt I could only paint it out to cope with it. I was already halfway through a body of work when the bushfires came through but it fits in well with my concepts which addresses environmental issues including climate change.
What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model?
I hadn’t heard of Posespace until quite recently actually. I’ve bought quite a few of the books and prefer them over the digital format. Now as my work is getting more detailed, I want to find more views of particular poses I want to capture – so doing a quick google search came up with Posespace. My favorite model at the moment is Mandy, but there are many others in the reference books I use and not sure of their names.
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
My process has changed a lot and it really depends on what medium I’m using. At the moment I’m using oils and over time I’ve learnt what works best to create the painting I have in mind. The process has become quite structured – I usually start with an idea pf what I want to capture and then I search for references. Over the years I’ve made contact with some talented photographers who I may collaborate with or I search in books (eg Art Models by PoseSpace) if my idea involves the human form or, if I can, I try to take my own photos for reference. All of my paintings use at least 3 different subjects/reference images because I want as much of it to be my own idea. I then sketch the subjects (which are usually figures, trees, native animals or scenery for the background) onto a prepared canvas and I start blocking in whole areas with basic colours. I always have at least 4 paintings on the go at the same time so I’m never bored with any particular piece while allowing each layer to dry. It’s hard for me to say precisely how long each painting takes to complete but 4 paintings could take up to 6 months depending on the size.
How has your style changed over the years?
I think every artist goes through the most amount of change when they are just starting. I made a very big change about a year and a half ago and decided to focus on my attention in a very specific direction to create more conceptual, quality works. Really developing my painting techniques to a more ‘refined’ quality.
Tracie MacVean’s website: https://traciemacvean.com.au/
Interview by Andrea Miliani