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Spotlight Talks: Clair Bremner

The wild landscape was David Milne’s muse, and in our new 'Spotlight Talks' series, we talk to contemporary artists who share the same fascination with the natural world. In the second interview of the series, we chat to Clair Bremneran Australian artist, to discover more about her practice and how mother nature inspires her.

How did you start out as an artist? 

I have always been creative, as a child I would always be drawing or making things out of boxes. My mother and grandfather are both artists, so I grew up surrounded by art supplies and I was always encouraged to paint and draw. As an adult, I completed a Diploma in Visual art but I then worked as a freelance photographer for about 7 years. I was always painting in my spare time but I decided in 2013 that I would dedicate more energy to my painting and I have not looked back since. I now work full time as an artist. 

You've spoken about your landscapes often being a hybrid between reality and an imagined space. Could you tell us a bit more about where your inspiration comes from for your landscapes?

I draw inspiration for my landscape paintings from the area that I live in. I live in a mountainous, bush area on the outskirts of Melbourne. I am surrounded by nature and I often go on walks through the bush and take photos. However, although I am inspired by the area, I don’t plan or sketch my paintings based on any direct reference. They develop organically and end up becoming imaginary representations of the landscape rather than direct copies. 

You seem to choose colours not usually associated with nature. How do you choose the colour palette in your paintings?

I generally begin a painting with a certain colour scheme in mind, but I also let the colours shift and change organically as I paint. For example, I may start with the intention to create a “cool blue” painting but then I enjoy the addition of contrasting warm colours to add interest and a focal point. I choose colours very intuitively and I have never been afraid of bright colours. 

Are there any other artists you look to for inspiration in depicting the natural world?

I have always loved the dreamlike quality of Sydney Long’s landscapes. He was an Australian Art Nouveau artist and the way he depicted movement in his trees and the moody colours are just beautiful. Monet has also always been a favourite artist of mine, specifically because of his use of colour. 

What would a typical working day be like for you (if there is one!)

My studio space is about 10min from my home so every morning, once I drop the kids off at school, I head to my studio and start working on whatever needs to be done. Sometimes that is working on private commissions or consignments for a few retail shops and galleries I stock. Or I spend some time planning new work for a collection, which usually involves creating a few small colour studies on paper. Sometimes I spend all day just packaging up recently sold work and getting it ready to ship, or finishing off work by photographing it, varnishing, painting the edges and adding hanging wire. Each day is different and it changes a lot depending on the projects I’m working on. I’m usually in my studio from 10am-2pm, five days a week. 

Are there any particular landscapes in Australia or the wider world that you'd like to visit, or paint? 

I have always wanted to visit the mountains and wilderness around Alaska. Even as a small child I was in love with the idea of being out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains and forests. Clearly, I am an absolute introvert at heart and have no problems with the idea of being isolated. 

As a landscape painter, what resonates with you about David Milne's work?

I adore the way David created reflections of trees in the water, I often add water/river elements into my work and I like to include suggestions of reflections of the foliage in a similar way to Milne. It’s such an interesting visual element and adds to the dreamlike quality that I am trying to achieve with my work. 

Image credits: Clair Bremner, Higher Ground, 112cm x 112cm, acrylic on canvas; courtesy of the artist. Second image: Clair Bremner, Let the Light Shine, 137cm x 91cm, acrylic on canvas; courtesy of the artist.