Noël Skrzypczak’s work is pretty much as hard to describe as her last name is to spell. The organic shapes and artificial blasts of color in tandem create something very easy to be attracted to. The artist, born in 1975 in Canada, studied in Canberra at the Australian National University School of Art, and now lives and works in Melbourne. Skrzypczak describes that “the interplay between intention and accident” plays an important role in her paintings. Her recent work also includes sculptural works made of soap, glass and silicone.
REVS: This series of ‘Mountain Paintings’ is one of my favorites among your works.
What’s the story behind these mountains?
Noël Skrzypczak: I have trouble deciding on titles for paintings because they are often based on feelings or ideas that are hard to pin down. With the ‘Mountain Paintings’, I wanted to create a particular sense of light and energy – I was thinking of thin mountain air and crisp light.
The forms in the paintings suggest obstacles and a way to get through them or over them, which connects with the idea of climbing a mountain. So there isn’t a specific mountain story, just indirect associations.
REVS: Nature and organic forms seems to be connected strongly to your work in general. What is your relationship with nature?
Noël Skrzypczak: Nature is a source of inspiration both in terms of form and emotion. I wouldn’t say I’m more strongly connected to nature than the next person but I am keenly aware of the beauty and energy in nature and it moves me. The use of natural forms in my paintings is partly constructed and partly because it’s how paint moves when it’s fluid.
REVS: where is your favorite place on earth?
Noël Skrzypczak: My favourite place on earth… Underwater in a tropical lagoon on a sunny day. Needless to say, living in Melbourne I don’t get to be in my favourite place very often!
REVS: Your paintings have a beautiful way of looking ‘not painted’.
How far do you control your paintings or does chance play a role in your work?
Noël Skrzypczak: The interplay between intention and accident is one of the things that I love about the way I paint. By allowing paint to move and create its own forms I can be surprised and delighted – or sometimes disappointed and frustrated – by the results. It adds another level of challenge, kind of like working with another life-form who has its own agenda, but not quite.
REVS: How do you usually start a piece – do you have a plan before starting to paint?
Noël Skrzypczak: With the ‘Mountain Paintings’ I started by making small collages so that the compositions were roughly decided before I started work on the larger canvases. I found that there was a lot of room for creativity and responsiveness in this process whilst being pretty confident that the composition was going to work. With other paintings in the past my process was more about responding to what I’d previously done on the canvas, to see where the painting wanted to go. There was a lot of problem-solving at every stage of the process and often the paintings ended up lining the floor of my studio.
REVS: I read you have been teaching art to children.
What is the most important thing you want teach people about art?
Noël Skrzypczak: I actually haven’t taught children for a long time! I do still teach art but it’s to adults, and within a Graphic Design course.
What I would love for people to get from learning art is that it’s really, really satisfying. It’s fun and deeply engaging on all sorts of levels to actually sit down and express yourself through drawing, painting or making something. Being creative through visual art is also about learning how to see differently. There is no such thing as an ugly person or boring landscape when you’re drawing or painting it. Everything becomes a fascinating series of shapes, lines, colours, textures and tones.
REVS: What is the most important thing you have learnt from being a teacher?
Noël Skrzypczak: What’s great about teaching is that I am frequently reminded of the wonder and joy that people experience when creating or looking at art. There is an element of magic in image-making, and sharing this with students reminds me of why I started painting in the first place myself.
REVS: What is your favorite color? What colors you would never combine?
Noël Skrzypczak: I don’t have a favoutie colour. As for colours I would never combine… Well I actually made a series of works called “It came out of me” that featured colours that I hated at the time like browns, purples, beiges, etc. The series was about expelling mental demons and the result was not only therapeutic for me but I also ended up quite liking the paintings and thinking they were quite beautiful. So the short answer is that there are no colours I would never combine – I’ll keep my options open.
REVS: What do you think is your biggest obstacle, fear or limit as an artist?
Noël Skrzypczak: Being an artist in Australia is certainly an obstacle to being recognised internationally – we really are quite far away from the main art centers here, or so it seems.