Field Interview: Ghyllian Conley, Picture-esque
This week's interview is with Ghyllian of Picture-esque. Ghyllian is multi-passionate and multi-talented. Through lots of self teaching and experimenting, she's created a completely unique form of art that combines everything she loves. Ghyllian's love of the environment, photography, and doodling is evident in her work. Picture-esque is one that you can't miss for a completely one of a kind gift!
Find Picture-esque in the Field at Whalers Brewing Company on:
SUNDAY, 12/10 11:30-4:30
1. Your work embodies your many passions including art and nature. How did you come up with Picture-esque as a name?
Well, its supposed to be a play on words. I chose "Picture", because every piece has a photo or image and "esque" as the definition is, "in the style of; resembling". Though there is a "picture" in each piece, there is more to a piece than the photo- I sometimes paint or sketch over the image and even the transfer process distorts or changes the original photo. And finally, I chose "Picture-esque" because I feel that my pieces are also picturesque- "visually attractive, especially in a quaint or pretty style."
2. The process of your creations consists of multiple steps and I'm sure a lot of time and planning. What are the steps in creating one piece?
It starts with the photos. I'm constantly taking photos and doodling whenever I can and every now and again one will inspire an idea of how I could combine a photo I've taken with one of my sketches. For example, a common one would be a photo of flowers and some flowers that I've sketched in a notebook. Once I get an idea I lay out and cut the photos and sketches in a way that I think will layer together nicely and I fit the images to the size and shape of the wood I have to work with. Once I have everything laid out I start the transferring process- I have to be careful because everything transfers backwards. But basically I glue the images to the wood. Once dry (a few hours) I remove the paper using water and a sponge, let that dry and then apply the next layer. When I've finished transferring, I begin painting over the collaged images to try to bring them all together. I tend to favor flowers and geometric shapes. Finally, I pour resin over the whole thing to seal in the images, brighten the transfers and protect the wood. I've actually been experimenting a bit with this last step and have some exciting new additions coming soon- one more component being added to the collage.
3. How did you start working with this unique process? Did it take a lot of experimenting? Self teaching? Or, did you learn from someone else?
Honestly, I saw a random DIY video on Facebook. I experimented at first because I didn't believe it could be so easy to transfer photos. When I saw how straightforward it is I realized how many options I had. I figured I could not only transfer family photos like in the DIY video but ANYTHING I wanted. My very first idea came from a photo of sunset in Arcadia and I thought of how cool it could be to paint a continuation of the photo. The ideas grew from there and through some experimenting I kept adding layers. I feel like there has been a lot of "self-teaching" but it's more of a continuous trial and error. I learn as I go what works well and what could be done differently.
4. You capture a lot of nature scenes. Where is your favorite place to get nature inspiration?
Honestly? Work. Being at my full time job I have to take photos as part of my job all the time. I'm on different farms and forests all over the state and sometimes the weather is just perfect and the lighting, incredible and I end up capturing some pretty special photos. Taking pictures at work is actually what inspired me to get more into photography and buy a camera. To give you a more direct answer- one of my favorite places to explore and get stunning sunset photos is Arcadia management area in Exeter.
5. While your pieces have a main nature theme, some of them incorporate an element of fantasy (like an octopus taking over the Atlantic Ocean). Where do these ideas come from?
I love to read. I've always been fascinated by fantasy novels and I feel that all the reading I've done has expanded my creativity and opened my mind to the unreal and my imagination.
6. Do you have a favorite tree wood to work with?
Well not a specific type of wood but I do prefer the wood that I've gotten locally. Some of the wood I use, I've purchased from AC Moore. It works great and is easy to source and they offer all different shapes and sizes- so convenient. But I still prefer the wood that came from someone I know or a forest I know simply because of the connection I have to it. Getting the different wood creates interesting effects when the resin is poured- some wood has more prominent rings or features (like wormwood) and oftentimes has really cool bark with lichen still on it! With time and more trial and error I'm sure I will develop a favorite type of wood but for now its super interesting seeing how each of the different wood reacts when the resin is poured.
7. You offer custom work as well. What are some of the reasons people have to come to you to create customized scenes?
I've made things such as wedding presents, anniversary gifts, and birthday presents. I especially love incorporating/transferring maps that are significant to the person receiving the piece. For example, for a recent wedding present I transferred maps of the places where the couple met and grew up, the photo taken after he proposed and then I finished up by painting flowers that signified the months of their anniversary and birthdays. I really enjoy doing custom work and plan on creating an Etsy page so I can expand the custom work.
8. You do a great job at channeling your passion for the environment through your art. What would your advice be for someone who cares about a cause and wants to use art as a platform to gain awareness for that cause?
Well in my opinion, the most important part of any cause is education on the topic. People can't be passionate about something that they don't understand or know about. Art is a beautiful way to get the word out and gain awareness in a positive light. There doesn't have to be fighting or yelling or protesting in art; instead its a way to shed light on a cause and show the beauty of what it is you believe in. Even when it comes to causes that are horrific and terrible/not thought of as "beautiful", art is a perfect platform to expose that raw pain, without fighting or violence- we have enough of that in the world. When a person creates, they have the opportunity to bring attention and educate other people on things that they believe in, so why not do it? Even if you only get one new person to feel passionate about your cause- that's one more person aware than there was before :) So I guess my advice would simply be "Just do it."
9. Dream collaboration? Can be a specific person, general person, company, etc. What would you create together?!
I think it would be a dream to collaborate with any of the many amazing local artists and photographers here in RI. I would be so honored and flattered if someone wanted me to transfer a photo or drawing of theirs and create something we made together :) I can transfer most anything onto wood but I try to use only things I draw or photograph (except for the maps I use obviously lol) but it would be super cool to be inspired by someone else's photos or drawings and add "my touch" to create something totally unique. One of my closest friends is a photographer and she's been teaching/helping me from the beginning so I've been hoping to do a collaboration with her soon ;)