Can you introduce yourself, and tell us a bit about what you do?
Sure, my name is Eva Ullrich, I am a painter based in Bristol. I make large, semi-abstract paintings; its acrylic on canvas. They’re quite simple, painted with large squeegees, really wide brushes and are inspired by trips that I take and various landscapes.
With the subject matter of your paintings being kid of a universal theme, do you have a particular artistic movement or artists that influenced your work?
Interestingly, a bit of both. So at art college, obviously you have to study art history, and you absorb, almost like a sponge, everything you discover about past art and artists. Inevitably you take influences from that, but ultimately, the more you make, the more you create, you find your own voice. So, it’s just through years and years of making, really, that’s the only kind of way to find your own voice, is to just do it.
Were you painting in a different way in the beginning?
I would probably say that from the beginning, I’ve changed a lot. But I know that people have often told me that there is definitely a strong visual link between my older work and my new work. I think it has definitely become simpler, trying to use less to say more.
Working outside, a lot of your items being nature or landscape based, did you go anywhere in particular to get inspired to paint? Or do you feel like you come in and you’re ready to paint?
The actual paintings I do are painted in the studio – just for practical reasons; there’s no dust, no bits of grass flying around. Things have to be clean and I have to paint flat as well, which is quite important so that it doesn’t drip or run, but in terms of the actual inspiration, it comes from being outside and looking at the sky, the sea and the mountains, so quite often I go on holiday and take trips, business trips, and that’s what drives me. Maybe twice a year I’ll go on a bigger trip, recently went to the North of Norway so a lot of my recent works are based on that particular part of Norway in the winter time. You get beautiful colours against the snow, really strong tonal contrast and blacks and whites; you really have to see it in the flesh to appreciate it and try and replicate it.
Do you go out and source imagery? Do you go out and take photographs and bring them back or is it more kind of coming back with the impression of the place?
I’d say, because I don’t sketch, I have really small paint sketches initially but they’ll never directly relate into a painting; its more about the act of looking. But more than sketching and painting I actually use photography as a memory tool, just to focus my looking while I’m actually there. It’s almost like a visual filter, maybe, and then once I’m back in the studio, I don’t actually look at anything at all, I’ll just come in and just paint from that memory of being there.
Having listened to the song that you sent us, do you tend to listen to music that’s quite similar or do you have a varied taste? I remember you saying that it was important that the song had oomph or a driving force.
It can go either way, I need either absolute silence and no distractions whatsoever or, well I haven’t worked out when I need what, but some days I really need energy, it’s almost like you need to put yourself into a meditative state, almost trance-like to block off the outside world so something really high energy, quite sort of samey really helps with that.
Has there been a piece you have been particularly proud of?
There was a piece that I made in my final year, of art school, that really surprised me, and it actually happened really quickly, within like 2 days it was almost finished. I think in the end its success was that it captured this landscape, it was a beach scene with some cliffs, but it had an amazing sense of light and atmosphere that I don’t actually think I’ve been able to achieve since. I know that sounds silly, but really yeah, I was so pleased with it. But I think the success in that was that I just did it really quickly without thinking about things, and I think you can overthink work, I know we’ve all done it, and in that instance it was very intuitive, very quick, and for me that was always the most successful. The ones I labour over and try and plan always look stale and stodgy.
How do you stay passionate about your work?
Well, huh, it’s really easy to get creative fatigue, I think, is probably how I’d describe it. Especially when you’ve got deadlines and quite often if I’ve got like shows in a group close together and I’m in here 7 days a week, 12 hours a day almost. And after doing that for a while, after say 6 months, you do need a break. So I do occasionally, you know, take myself away and say right that’s it I’m not working for 2 weeks or even more, even 2 months sometimes, I’ll have a summer off or something, cause you just have to, you have to get away. But then, the longer you spend away from something the more you find yourself thinking about it again, and you kind of rediscover it, when you come back to it you rediscover it afresh, and it gives you a better sense of perspective. You look back at your old work, and you just see it with fresh eyes and it kind of reinvigorates the process.
Eva both lives and works in Bristol, she achieved a BA First Class Honours in Painting & Printmaking at Glasgow school of Art, and has achieved multiple awards for her art-work. At first her work appears abstract; a series of colours placed on a page, but there is much more to her process of creation. Eva uses “painting’s inherent language as a platform to create landscapes”. She is not an abstract artist, she is a landscape artist who embraces and is embraced by the rhythm of nature. She has a studio in Jamaica Street Artists; one of the largest artist-led studios outside of London and has been established for over 20 years.