This holiday season, we’re excited to introduce Pomegranate, a publishing and printing company that offers its customers “art you can bring home.” In celebration of Pomegranate’s commitment to inclusivity, we’re proud to spotlight some of the brilliant women artists in their catalogue. Read more about Pomegranate below.
“It’s very simple, really, it’s not complex, it’s just doing something you like very very much,” Rosalind Wise explains as she describes her relationship with painting. She also calls painting her “angel”—“it’s looked after me, really, it’s always there.”
Rosalind Wise grew up in South Wales and trained at the University of Reading and taught art for several years. Now, she lives in Gloucestershire, where she spends all her energy in her studio, where she’s always wanted to be. In her words, she’s “just an ordinary person who’s found something they love to do and has allowed themselves to do it, that’s all I am.”
Below is my delightful conversation with Rosalind Wise.
AEL: Is there anything you do to get into the mindset when you start painting?
Rosalind Wise: No, just go in. It’s very near to me, you know, it is me. My work is where I live. So when I sit with it, I’m immediately there. It’s not a battle.
AEL: I saw on your website you had written about doing more abstract painting when you were training, but you prefer realism. Can you tell me more about that?
Rosalind Wise: My university course a long time ago was very influential; it was about American Expressionists and Frank Stella, people like that. It was big abstract paintings that have no real meaning for me at all. Although I did it, because I was young and I was a student and I thought that’s what you had to do.
It wasn’t until I left university that I really started to do what I wanted to do. But I’m glad I went, because in a sense, I knew what I was up against—sometimes you have to know what you aren’t before you know what you are. And in university, the trends, the fashion, what was accepted, particularly by men, men painters, it was very—the women weren’t taken very seriously either, to be honest. So it wasn’t a negative experience, but it was a lesson in life. (laughs)
And I became quite informed. So it was a good thing. But it wasn’t until I left that I found myself, allowed myself to do what I wanted to do, which is work in nature.
AEL: How do you study the places you paint?
Rosalind Wise: I’ve been to gardens and meadows; I visit places which I’ve heard are good and I like. It’s very important to be there, because I try to paint the feeling of being there. Although I want it sort of realistic, I don’t want it photographic, because the best paintings for me are when the artist is in the painting. Otherwise, you might as well just take a photograph. You know, the human brush, the hand, the textures, the strokes, they’re all part of the communication of the painting to another person.
AEL: What are your artistic influences?
Rosalind Wise: I love color and I like energy. Because my paintings, although they’re about plants and place, they’re really about energy, natural energy. So the works that have the most for me—there’s Duncan Grant in this country, Cedric Morris, and of course, there’s [David] Hockney—when there’s a bit of electricity in their work, through energy and color, that’s what I like. And of course, there’s Van Gogh and everybody goes back to him. He’s got sort of extraordinary intensity and electricity which I’m very attracted to.
AEL: I can definitely see the Van Gogh influence!
Rosalind Wise: And Matisse, you see, I like Matisse’s work as well. But when things become very abstract and lose their connection to reality as I see it, I’m not so happy. I’m much happier if you’re getting a sort of buzz from what you’re seeing and really in, than just doing an abstract equivalent of it.
A lot of abstract art feels emotionally empty, and that’s why I connect perhaps with people from past generations. There aren’t many women painters that I connect with at all because you don’t hear of them.
I take influences and I’m extremely attracted to certain work, but I don’t think about it really, I just do what I want to do. And that’s one of the luxuries of being old, is you can just think “I just want to do what I want to do.”
Rosalind Wise: When you’re young, you’re influenced by so much, and also you want to please so much, you want to be liked, but I don’t care now. I don’t care! (laughs) It’s a wonderful liberation, not to care, it’s fantastic. You just get on with it, and if they don’t like it, I think oh well, somebody might!
AEL: Did you always really like painting, were you ever drawn to other mediums?
Rosalind Wise: I was very lucky, because my mother was very into nature but also into art, and always saw it as important. Whereas if I’d had another sort of mother, I would never have properly done it. But she allowed me to do what I wanted to do. In fact, I sort of paint for the both of us, because she was clever but never had the opportunities. So I paint for us both, really.
AEL: Do you have any advice for artists earlier in their careers?
Rosalind Wise: I would say keep going, keep at it, and don’t be put off by other people. If you really want to do something, find the time. If you do an hour every day, by the end of the week you’ll have done five hours, and that’s quite a lot. So it’s better to keep it going and do a little each day and then accumulate.
AEL: Would you have any other advice for women artists specifically?
Rosalind Wise: I would just say again—keep going! Because men are different to women—and not be put off, but quietly row your own canoe. Because you’re human and male or female, you’re human, and you have something to say, and if it’s worth saying, it doesn’t matter who you are. […] If you really want to do it, just do it. But don’t tax yourself by doing too much, and feeling you’ve got to achieve something. Just quietly sit down and allow yourself, an hour a day, half an hour a day, maybe even two hours a day, just doing something that feeds you and is important to you, rather than trying to please the world or compete with men. It’s important to celebrate our differences, really.
I’m not trying to compete with men at all now, I wouldn’t even want to. I wouldn’t even want to. I’m doing my thing because I’m a human being and that allows me to, male or female.
AEL: Tell me a bit about what you’re working on now.
Rosalind Wise: I’ve got an exhibition next June in Nature in Art, which is in [Gloucester]. I went to Transylvania in 2019 and photographed and I’ve done a series of paintings of the wonderful meadows there. They haven’t used pesticides and insecticides in the same way as have been used in this country since the Second World War, so they had carpets of fields of what over here is endangered, wonderful that was.
So I’ve done paintings of the fields of Transylvania in Romania, and I’m just now finishing some paintings based on some meadows here. It’s on rare species, wonderful, colorful, fabulous places. Where plants are allowed to still grow in a natural way, without man or woman’s intervention so much. But they’re highly protected now, they’re wonderful to record.
So the exhibition will be two rooms, one on Transylvania and one on British meadows, so it’ll be the two together. It won’t be a comparison, because who cares, I mean they’re just places.
The 2022 Rosalind Wise Wall Calendar is available for purchase on pomegranate.com. Check it out! (click on the image above to enlarge)
Remember: When you order directly from Pomegranate the artists receive a larger percentage of sales.
© Amelie Lasker (11/23/21) Special for FF2 Media.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Images from Pomegranate’s 2022 Rosalind Wise calendar have been provided by Pomegranate and are used here by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate.