Meet the Maker: Mixed Media Artist Jenny Muncaster
Mixed media is an art category with no bounds, and one that is becoming increasingly popular, as techniques such as fluid pouring allow the creation of stunning artworks no matter what your arts experience or education. Artist Jenny Muncaster is here to explain how she got started and why she loves to work using such a large range of versatile mediums. Not only has she got many years of experience as an artist under her belt, but she’s also working on some exciting new projects with Pebeo!
What inspired you to pick up a brush and start painting?
Even as a child I always had a passion for all things creative – colours, shapes and design always fascinated me. All I ever wanted for birthdays and Christmas was the latest art and craft kit or any art product going. Like all artists I am sure, the need to express this creativity is something that just has to come out. My very earliest memory of seeing a professional artist was when my dad took me to a local craft fair and I was asked to help make a simple print by dipping string in paint, placing it between the pages of a very thick book. I pulled the string free from the pages and on opening the book revealed the most beautiful printed pattern which the painted string had left. It sounds so simple now, but seeing this was so exciting at the age of 7 years old, I can honestly say it had an effect on me.
Is there anything that you prefer to paint above anything else?
Yes indeed, and it’s food; the connection between art and food has always been an obvious one for me and it has led to my fulfilling commissions for hotels and restaurants all over the world. I have currently just completed several huge paintings for the Four Seasons in Dubai and bespoke artwork for some very beautiful 5 star hotel interiors. I have worked closely with Raymond Blanc, alongside other chefs, on some fun creative projects, as I am fascinated and inspired by the link between art and food.
Quality products give quality results, it’s that simple
Do you have a favourite medium you like to paint with over any other?
I work mainly in acrylics and acrylic mediums. Getting to know their various properties and how best to push the boundaries with the materials is really important to me. Different acrylics, for instance, have very varied structures; some with greater amounts of pigment. Some you can use finely for real clarity and detail and others you can use almost like emulsion paint throwing it on to the canvas for great effect! Using products like Bindex for collage which is often a feature of my work is super important; quality products give quality results, it’s that simple, and that’s why I work so closely with Pebeo.
When you break the painting processes down into easy steps, the results are truly remarkable and you don’t have to be a ‘Michelangelo’ to achieve a brilliant outcome
Mixed media art is becoming incredibly popular, are there any combinations of medium that you like working with?
You’re definitely right there, this is a major focus for me now and it’s wonderful to present a style of painting that even new artists get immediately. The Gedeo resins and Pebeo Fantasy paints are unbeatable and open up a brand new world. I am currently filming a Mixed Media TV series called The Artist in You and due for transmission in 2016, it’s all about inspiring people to have a go. When you break the painting processes down into easy steps, the results are truly remarkable and you don’t have to be a ‘Michelangelo’ to achieve a brilliant outcome.
Do you have any other crafting passions?
I am fairly focused in what I do but my studio, The Colour Factory in Winchester, is a co-operative venture which I share with five other professional artists who are specialists in their own field, including fine art, textile design, jewellery, glass and ceramics. To see other artists at work, close up, is great and there is always room for sharing ideas and learning new ways of working.
What is a typical day like for you?
Life just now is super hectic – at the moment I have my commission work, plus filming for the TV series and I manage a number of consumer art and craft shows for Pebeo, to get the message out there. Mixed Media is a joy to present to artists and crafters alike, everyone gets so excited!
What top five pieces of kit could you not be without?
Quality materials have to be the number one, the colours and mediums have to add to what I do, not force me to work harder. As for the rest, perhaps not strictly ‘kit’, but a calm, inspiring environment, the constant support of my family and colleagues and at the moment, the energy to keep everything going.
What does your studio look like? Give us a tour!
The Colour Factory itself is a lovely little quirky building in the heart of Winchester, originally the park keepers house. We have four separate work spaces – typical artists’ garrets, stuffed with paints, brushes, glazes and products, inspiration boards of photo’s and clippings. Canvases propped up all over the place, some finished, some not. We also have a small gallery full of artwork all made by the artists on site and we welcome visitors calling in. Outside we have a beautiful garden which leads to the ‘Light Box’, this is our outdoor studio and teaching area, a custom designed space flooded with light.
Do you have any advice for painters out there looking to take the leap and become a full time professional artist?
Painting and commercial ability are two different skills, you can never afford to sit still as you generate your next job, no one else does. When I first took the leap as a self employed artist after leaving art school I didn’t turn any work down as long as it was creative. The early years were a learning curve and I spent a lot of time trudging up to London with my portfolio seeing galleries and agents inbetween attending trade fairs in the commercial design arena. As my painting sales gained momentum I was able to dedicate more time to this. I think you have to be completely passionate and maybe a little crazy to make it work as there will be many knock backs along the way and a lot of hard work!
Mixed Media is opening up the art market like never before
And for the future? What’s next?
I have worked with Pebeo now for a number of years and this is the most exciting phase. Mixed Media is opening up the art market like never before and I am enjoying being at the centre of things. I am super excited about the TV series and it looks like that will go worldwide, so who knows where it might lead. I know that I am very lucky to have so many positive things on the go at the moment and I intend to enjoy every minute.