Please introduce yourself!
Hi! I am Rebecca Tucker, I live just outside London in the UK, but have lived in a few different parts of the UK, I was born in Lancashire (north west England), I went to University in Reading and had a stint in Edinburgh, Scotland for a few years too. I did a Fine Art degree 1992-96, but then went into interior design and have been doing that for 23 years now, working for the lovely Suna Lock when she was UK based and then taking on her company, Suna Interior Design, when she made the move to California. I have always had my painting in the background, but life, work and children definitely put it on the back burner until 2020 when the UK Covid lockdown meant I gained back all the time normally spent on school runs, kids clubs, socializing etc, so I found a few hours each day that I could carry myself off into my studio to paint.
Could you tell us a little bit about your art?
My ongoing obsession is with paint, the pure attraction of paint on a surface and what it does when you apply water, or rub it back, or wash off layers. Through my University degree I played with the concept of landscapes, using a horizontal line which automatically makes people assume ‘landscape’ but then using the texture and surface of the paint to bring people back to the fact that it is paint on a surface, and the pure pleasure of looking at the details.
Until 2020, whenever I picked up a brush, I would generally revert back to the ideas I had had in 1996 as my starting point, and it is only with the concentrated time that I have had in lockdown that I have been able to move forward much more quickly with some new ideas. So whilst landscape and nature is still the major factor in my work, I am looking at pattern and line and colour and texture as ways of swinging people between the illusion of a landscape and the reality and sheer loveliness of paint on a canvas or board.
What drew you to painting? And where do you find inspiration?
I love the happy accidents that I get with painting, I spend hours literally watching paint dry (and drip, and pool and mix!). I love applying layers and layers of paint and then rubbing through the top surface to the layers underneath, or pouring boiling water on barely dried paint, and seeing what is revealed beneath. It is a process of paint and reveal, then keeping what I like and painting over what I don’t. There is an element of risk, of losing something that I should have kept, or carrying on too long, but I am also at risk of not pushing something far enough so it is a constant battle about when to stop.
I draw inspiration from everywhere, from dog walks and nature, from photography and film, from other peoples work, from galleries and museums and from social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, from colour palettes I use in interior design to colour combinations I see in front of me everyday. I have started using life drawing and portraiture to practice properly looking and getting my drawing skills up to speed, and this led me to using a lot of line work in my newer landscape paintings. This year has been a bit mad, a bit of a maelstrom of working in a lot of different ways and styles, and at first that was really disorientating, my Instagram feed looked a total mess! But I am gradually drawing all the different strings together into something more coherent. I hope! I had no clue that my life drawing and portrait practice would ever feed into my main body of work, it felt quite separate at first, but it has been so satisfying to start taking elements of one into the other.
How would you describe your painting/artistic style?
Ultimately I would describe my work as ‘abstract landscape’. I used to avoid the ‘landscape’ part of the title, as I was determined to make people looking at one of my paintings, who might initially ‘see’ a landscape because of the single straight horizontal line, come round to seeing it as purely abstract. But I now take a lot of inspiration from actual real life landscapes, which I will use as a starting point, so I am much happier to class my work as landscape. But the abstraction part of it is really important to me. I don’t want to be making photographic representations of landscapes, we have cameras that can do that. I want people to look at each piece of work as a painting first and foremost, something that may remind them of a place, or evoke a feeling, or pull them in to look closely at the brush marks and effects of paint.
Do you see your painting and your interior design work as related?
The creativity part is related but the approach and mentality and confidence I have in the two arenas are poles apart! I have been working in the field of interior design for over 20 years, I know I can make a room or a house look good. I know what to do with a floor plan and how the design will translate into a real three dimensional space. There is masses of creativity involved, but it is defined and controlled by the need for functionality, and by the requirements of the people using the space.
With painting I am less confident of my ability, it is more personal, more of an intimate reveal, more of a creative balancing act. For me, painting has wider potential, more creative opportunities, which means wider risk. I paint for myself but I need affirmation from others to complete the circle. Not for the financial gain but for the reassurance that I am going on the right track and producing work that touches and impacts another human being. Maybe when I have spent as much time painting as designing interiors I will be more assured and confident but in some ways it is the constant questioning of ‘is it any good’ that pushes me forward. It’s a precarious place to be, with regards mental wellbeing, but I do recognize that it is necessary and to finally ‘arrive’ in a comfort zone would probably mean I would just churn out formulaic work, which would be the very opposite of what I see it is to be an artist.
Rebecca Tucker's work is now showing at Stripe until the end of January 2021. Works are available for purchase — please come into the shop or email Anne firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a painting.
For more information on Rebecca Tucker, please visit her website.
Join us for a Meet the Artist talk over Zoom with Rebecca on Thursday, January 7th at 5:30pm. You can join us here.