#WhatDrivesYou: Alex Landon Richardson
September 19, 2016
Alex Landon Richardson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1986. She obtained an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom in 2013 and a BA (Honours, Specialization in Visual Art) from Western University in London, Ontario in 2008. Operating within the language of contemporary painting, Richardson’s works are held in private collections in Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom. She has exhibited works internationally and has participated in artist residencies in Spain and South Africa. Richardson works out of her studio in The Beaches, and splits her time between Toronto and North Bay, Ontario, as she is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Nipissing University.
Where do you find inspiration?
It can happen anywhere. Alone, with others, in quiet, in noise… It is often provoked by nature, moments of intense joy / exhilaration and being in the presence of other people. I find inspiration in a state of receptiveness, gratitude and awe of the environments and people surrounding me. I think this state largely requires a dose of humility, thankfulness and attentiveness. It is related to being sensitive spiritually, emotionally, mentally and perceptually.
What do you listen to while you create?
All over the spectrum from classical piano to folk and indie to hip hop and electronic.
What do you love most about your job?
The gift of freedom to be the most honest, distilled and expressive version of yourself and sharing that honesty with others so that they are encouraged towards their own honesty. Sharing would be the key word here. Sharing some sort of truth. And beauty.
What medium is your favourite to work with and why?
Oil paint, because it is soft, delicate and blurs beautifully.
How do you push through “artist’s block”?
I go for a horseback ride, a run, or get out and share life with other people… Something always happens when you stay active in life and let things percolate under the surface until they’re ready to be brought forward. Keeping your life fresh and flowing wards off frustration and doubt. “Stay busy while you are waiting for something to happen” – Robert Genn.
In what environment do you prefer to create?
Solitude, near nature and amongst an essence of what I feel is ‘purity’ and simplicity. I don’t enjoy chaos.
Who do you admire in the art world?
Sky Glabush, Margaux Williamson, Sally Kindberg, Jessica Davies, Neo Rauch, and David Caesar.
How do you find ways to stand out in the Canadian art world?
Honesty. It always brings uniqueness, in my opinion.
How did you become an artist?
Not sure that there is a start and finish. You are born one, and you never stop being one. I’m a believer in the “we are all artists” philosophy. I watch children and I see that there is no discrimination between artist and non-artist. To become a professional artist, you must make a decision and stay loyal to it. Give yourself the space for it, and be enthusiastic in nurturing opportunities. Be dogged about it.
What is the coolest thing about Canadian art?
Its politeness is endearing. Its state of flux and openness is exciting. The fact that we still make landscape-based work and find it interesting is fascinating.
What is the coolest thing you’ve seen recently?
A bunch of children attacking a wooden bee condo with paints and paintbrushes in a state of creative fury at the slightest prompting. I was volunteering at a farmer’s market and invited kids to paint bee condos, and they stampeded my table with the most mad creative frenzy and it truly blew my world away. All kids are artists.
If you could bring someone/an artist back from the dead for one day who would it be and why?
Matisse, because his paper cut-outs just mesmerize me and I would love to join him in entirely coating a large space with these silhouettes…. If he would allow such a thing. These cut-outs would revive the public space, on the outside of a building or inside of a large highly-visited building. I just want to see these things LARGE! The simplicity of his work is so precious in this world. More people should experience its uncomplicated beauty.
What is your advice to those looking to pursue a career in the art world?
Persist, give yourself the space, keep things fresh, stay healthy and try not to get swayed down an alley of partying your career away. There is a time and place for visiting openings, networking and socializing, but essentially, you need to keep making work and the rest will fall into place when the work is ready and if you meet opportunities with keenness. Find your balance between solitude and collaboration/engaging with the world. Learn how to say no, but also how to say yes – and how to choose those wisely. Don’t feel guilty about taking the time out to create, but see it as your way of giving or sharing with the world. There will be many, many, many, many, many, many doubts, and they won’t stop, but persist in the face of doubts. Don’t let them convince you off of your bright and shiny path. Doggedly persist, without compromise, and let fearless faith see you through to the other side. The exhilaration from persevering beyond the dullness of doubts leads to a colourful joy like no other.
See more of Alex's work on her Instagram page!