Our invitation to see Casimira was a real treat today. Located in east Bicester Casimira's living room is her studio and gallery rolled into one. Its a colourful place, popping with her quirky paintings of animals and plants. Sitting by the old stove we chatted about Casimira's artistic journey, what inspires her art.
Read on to discover more about the artist behind these distinct artworks.
When did you start painting, Casimira?
I seriously got into painting in about 2008, I would say. I had to give up work because of health issues, so I had to find something to fill my life with. I had always been interested in art at school, and was quite good. I’m from a creative family, too. My aunt is a well-know artist in Oxfordshire and my Uncle is a quite prolific writer in Italy. When I started painting I created pictures of these quite psychedelic hares, and started selling them on online auctions – I noticed they were selling quite quickly! Then one day I went to Annie’s Tea Room in Thrupp to see if they would sell my cards, and they absolutely loved them! They sold like hot cakes. After a month or two I’d sold about a hundred.
What is your favourite medium and why?
I started off with acrylics and watercolours, dabbling in both. I’d gone to a few night classes for a couple of years then to a class with David Meeks, who taught us to paint in watercolour. I had a teacher once who looked at one of my paintings and said ‘there’s too much red there’, and I thought time to go - actually, I want that red there, and I knew it was time to spread my wings, and do what I want to do. I’ve started using inks in my work recently, because they’re so bright and colourful.
Where do you create your work and you think you ever truly finish a piece of work, or are you always thinking of ways you could add to or improve it?
I create my work here, in my front room. I’ll always paint using an easel and looking at photographs or pictures on the internet for inspiration. Then I start to paint and create my own thing on the canvas.
How did you choose the subject matter for your work?
Oxford is a big inspiration for my work, as it’s where I went to school, grew up and live now. A lot of my pieces have elements of folk art to them; I like that kind of art – colourful and vibrant. I just know what I like, and I’m drawn to it. I love drawing animals and that's where I started off with my psychedelic hares, but at the moment I’m really into painting bumble bees, I include them in lots of my paintings.
How would you describe your creative process?
I dive straight in, usually. For example, I’ve got an image of a cow in front of me, let’s say, then I’ll look at it and think on it, then I’ll sketch it out. In comparison to the original, my drawings are more anthropomorphic. I’m always looking to make my drawings a little silly and funny. I love the idea of not having to follow convention, totally getting rid of it and being a free spirit. I don’t tend to use a sketchbook as much because I tend to get straight into painting indoors. If I'm out I'll take my camera with me and the other day I went for a walk along the canal in Lower Heyford, and there were all these ducks lying around that I got lots of pictures of!
When do you feel the most inspired and what time of day?
In the evening times. I’m a night owl. I’m not very good in the mornings.
What inspires you and where do you get your inspiration?
I really have to go through a lot of ideas to come to reach a conclusive design. But my inspiration does come from the heart, really. I love animals, and I just love colour. I remove the pressure of trying to make things look realistic, and try to make them as unrealistic as possible.
What is most important to you to express in a piece of work? Is there a particular idea, theme or motif that you find yourself coming back to and including in your artwork?
I like to include written messages in my artwork. In my Tree of Life paintings I included some written words saying ‘love is patient, love is kind’, reminding people to be kind. My paintings are always about joy and happiness, and it makes me feel great to paint something that expresses that. A lot of my animal paintings get turned into greeting cards, and I have to think of a caption for them, but it’s only really my Tree of Life ones that have more of a meaning to them. Mostly, I just want to get a fun message across; fun and light. And I’ve found that, over the years, customers who have bought my work on the internet have said that they’ve had a rotten time, and my paintings have cheered them up. That’s really nice to know.
Which artists do you admire?
I’m really inspired by modern day artists like Brian Pollard. I also love Gillian Mowbray, her work is lovely.
What music do you listen to when you are creating?
Not so much music. I’ll have the television on, usually. I love to watch antiquing programmes. I love to watch all that whilst I’m painting. It’s just there in the background, it’s company. I think because art can be quite solitary, it’s like having a friend being in the room.
Looking back on your work, what you do think about it now?
Yes, my work has changed a lot. When I first started out I was doing a lot of naïve art, like my psychedelic hares, and although I am still doing the naïve stuff, my animal paintings now are quite a different style. It’s all running through the same theme of colour, the colour never changes and is always really important for me. The first initial paintings that I did, you wouldn’t see much white at all, which I’ve started bringing into my paintings more. You need to evolve as an artist, or you get stagnant.
Information about artists
Website URL: www.casimirasquirkyart.com
Otmoor Art Fare October 12th and 13th 2019
Buckingham garden centre in the restaurant
Oakthorpe Dentist, Summertown
Artyard cafe, Enstone
Casimra's greeting cards can be purchased in various locations around Oxfordshire
Stansfield and Hoole cafe Lounge, Joblings garage, Barstows,Bicester
Artcafe, Honeys newsagent, Honest stationary,Oxford
Preston Bissett Garden centre
Kizzies, Lower Heyford
Annies Tearooms Thrupp
Islip, Steeple Aston and Tackley Village shops
Annies at the Boatyard, Abingdon
The Mill, Chippingnorton