Although I don’t like admitting it, I know that I’m not alone in having an irrational fear of the unknown.
I was in the same job for years and shaded my eyes to the outside world, if I ever even glimpsed outside it at all. Then one day I realised that I wanted to be scared and I left my stuffy comfort zone and it was glorious and colourful and a bit confusing in a nice way that made my mind move again.
I felt a similar way the first time I saw a painting by artist Kate Tucker.
Colours and shapes that at first glimpse seem random and jumbled, but which pull you in and then suddenly wiggle, float and flow in inexplicable harmony. It is mesmerising and beautiful and you can’t explain why it makes sense. It just does.
Kate Tucker honed in on a hunch rather than being scared and if she hadn’t, her artwork would not exist. Thank God she did.
Read her words of wisdom below on art and general life.
HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU PAINT?
I feel a sense of freedom that I probably don’t feel at any other time. It comes from knowing that I am in a zone where anything is possible, everything is open, new. It’s the space between myself and what I’m making, where the materials and the work itself partly define the outcome. It’s a bit out of control but I have a lot of faith that I’ll be able to resolve every work, and it doesn’t really matter anyway, because the thrill is in the process. I think that to be able to shut down the noise of reality and give yourself over to a single creative task is a huge privilege. I get into a ‘flow’ state, and when I come out I wonder where the day went.
WHAT FASCINATES YOU ABOUT ABSTRACTION?
There’s something about simultaneously presenting a lot of information and activity but saying nothing at all that fascinates me. I guess it’s because I’m trying to describe something visually, that isn’t really visual. It’s the sense of every moment being either really full and overwhelming or quite balanced and resolved, depending on your view, what you choose to focus on. I don’t want to present answers, but I’m not really asking questions either. Rather, I’m trying to summarise a compression of activity in a fluid state. This feels like an honest representation of my worldview, nothing is black and white, nor is it ever still. Abstraction is a way to bring focus onto the stuff in between, the ambiguous, the confusing. And let the viewer teeter there and find their own viewpoint. I like the idea of making a space where the rules that govern scale, distance, even colour have been subverted, and yet the chaos is kind of alluring. I guess I want to people to look beyond the surface, not just when they view Art, but always.
WHAT SPACES ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Nature! There is nothing like being in a place where the elements are just overwhelming and they pull you out of your own head and into your senses. I’m pretty sensitive to spaces and I get really affected by where I am. So my home is super important, and the studio because I think that space is part of the habit that forms around making work. Also the garden, It brings me so much joy. But I think sometimes you need to be in an unfamiliar space and be forced to learn everything again, travel is amazing for that.
WHAT MAKES YOU HARMONIOUS AND HAPPY?
Balance. I need my loved ones but I also need to be alone sometimes. I need to work but I also need to forget work because if I start thinking about painting too much I can get sucked into an endless hole and miss out on life. Being a parent is amazing for that, my kids bring me back to love and laughter and the activities of living, so the balance can be maintained. I don’t really struggle with switching between work and life, they are intertwined and somehow it all works out. And I’m just so grateful for my family, no matter what kind of bind I get myself in, the gratitude I feel when I look at my children undoes the angst.
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON AGE AND PROGRESSION? HOW OLD DO YOU FEEL?
I have always felt older than I am. But I have no problem with ageing. Apart from the shock of young adulthood and the inevitable mourning of a pretty idyllic childhood, life has only improved as I’ve gotten older. I know who I am now, and what I need. We may as well see life as an opportunity to cultivate what we value, to practice what we think is important, and to reject what we don’t need.
Progression is an interesting one. I’m not big on the idea of ‘success.’ I think a lot of people turn off big parts of themselves focusing on singular goals. Life is overwhelming if you don’t narrow it down a bit, and I think ambition is really important. But it’s better to be motivated to follow your curiosity, live a life that reflects your values, challenge yourself, and remain open minded, rather than charging towards some distant goal. I think being an Artist has made me think like this though, because there is a lot about ‘success’ in the Art world that I consider to be out of my control. All I know is that I will make the best work I can and continuously progress my own investigations within it. It’s great if the world connects with what I do, but even if they don’t, I’m still going to do it.
WHAT AURAS ARE YOU DRAWN TO?
Some people have an inner stillness that is very alluring. I think it’s about knowing who you are and being completely true to that. The older I get the more direct I am, and the less tolerant of affectation. In my art I try to present a very personal truth, and simultaneously to disguise it. I think this is how I am in life. I’m kind of introverted, and I don’t like being too exposed. But I am compelled to connect with and make discoveries through others, and as a result I tend to reveal more about myself than perhaps I’d like.
I have a one month old baby so I am basically incoherent with love right now. It overwhelms, it makes us hopeless and sustains us in ways nothing else can. The power of this feeling throws everything else into perspective: you cannot feel love without feeling grateful for that thing you love, and gratitude is a very powerful and necessary thing.
HOW IS ONE ‘BRAVE’?
To be an Artist of any kind requires bravery. It’s not so much about having faith that you can do something worthwhile as it is having faith that you’ll be OK if what you do doesn’t turn out to be worthwhile. It’s coming to terms with failure and not letting the fear of it control what you do. It’s very hard to stop trying to please others. Even if it’s not really conscious, most of us do it. I’ve met a lot of people who get stuck doing something even though it’s not exactly right for them. They’re stuck because other people think they’re good at it, maybe others are even envious of their position, so the person feels like it would be ungrateful to stop and do that other thing they really want to do. In that situation you have to say, ‘what I’ve done and what I have is good, but I’m going to risk it all because I have a hunch there’s something better’. That takes a lot of courage, but I don’t think Artists can settle for second best. At some point you’ve got to stop circling in and go straight to what excites you. The reason I have such a strong opinion on this one is because I spent quite a few years being too scared to commit to Art. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but I was circling in, doing everything around the edges of Art. It was all very worthwhile in hindsight, but I was unsatisfied. Art meant so much to me that I thought that if I tried and failed it would ruin me. That’s where you’ve got to be brave. Nothing will ruin you except the fear that something will ruin you.