This Summer we are featuring work from outstanding artist Silvi Schaumloeffel. Silvi is a expressive contemporary oil painter based in Kelmscott. We recently talked with Silvi on her paintings, studio space and love of oils.
Hi Silvi! Your exhibition, ‘Floral Mayhem’, is currently on display with us at The Jam Factory. Like the title suggests, your work exclusively represents flowers, suggesting they continue to move you in a profound way. What is your earliest memory of being fascinated with these vibrant, blossoming buds of nature?
Thank you for the chance to show my work in your beautiful light filled setting. I am actually hopeless with regards to growing or identifying flowers. While developing as an artist and learning my craft of oil painting I have been painting my way through landscapes, still lives, life drawing sessions, portraits, have painted studies of the cleassical masters up to more contemporary painters such as Joan Eardley and Joan Mitchell. It was a great way to identify what triggers your joy in what you are doing. Is it the subject? The medium? The application? The narrative? The floral subjects for me is linked with words such as abundance, sensual, mayhem, joy, colour frilliness so in a sense match many of my personality traits. I am quite an optimistic and energetic person, love colour and am quite curious. Flowers and generally speaking the natural world offer a never ending inspiration in all these traits. I guess I am painting energetic still lives of nature’s palette.
You bring great sensuality to your paintings, not simply through your choice of colours and subject matter, but through the thickness of your paint strokes. Were you taught during the course of your artistic training to seek out the ‘flirtatious’ in nature, or is this a relationship you have discovered on your own?
My parents had a small study in oil next to the kitchen wall. The scene was an Italian florist selling flowers but very loosely applied with lots of impasto. I have always loved that painting. Then I came across the small sketches by Constable and the large waterlilies by Monet in the Orangery. I just love when you can see the brush marks and traces of gesture of the artists at work. When looking at those paintings you can imaging the movement involved in making that mark, the decisiveness in picking the right amount of paint, mixing the right colour and the swagger in applying it. So in a sense I am painting for the sheer joy of using paint itself. The application and constant decision making is what gives me endless pleasure and at times headaches. I want to invite the viewer along to discover the traces of previous stages of my work and visually explore along my marks.
There’s also an element of chaos suggested by the title. You’ve talked previously about wrestling and dancing with your artwork. Do you enjoy the paintings you battle with as much as the paintings that flow easily onto the canvas?
Yes, very much so. Maybe not so much while I am battling but the end result is often a more gritty painting. Those paintings hold more surprises for me as there are responses to frustrations that are very different to paintings that just flow. Both are honest paintings as they portray my emotions throughout the painting process. Sometimes you go through several of these stages in just one painting. I guess that’s like a Dance Battle then. Just with myself and the paint.
You describe yourself as an oil painter. What does working with oil give you that another medium does not?
I started with acrylics when I painted just every so often as they are very low maintenance in storing, painting and tidying up after. Then my dad left me a watercolour set with which I produced endless muddy watercolour sketches so was looking for some tutoring. After getting the hang of that in a local art class the teacher (Hi Claire) suggested to try oils as they give you the best of all worlds once you master the craft elements of painting in oils. They are initially a bit more tricky to learn, you will have lots of moments where you had great plans just for the oils and your own indeptitude to ruin your moment of magic. But if you preserver and are instructed well they allow you to stretch your ways of communicating with paint in the most beautiful and individual way. I paint every day so my studio is always set up in the evening and ready to go in the morning. If you only paint occasionally it’s a bit more faff. It depends really on where you want to push you artistic language to. But never be afraid of oils. They don’t take forever to dry if you prepare your ground with absorbent primer and use the right medium for the job, they just like a bit more attention then other mediums it seems to me, they are a bit more high maintenance.
The paintings we have at The Jam Factory are framed by a thin strip of neon colour, which isn’t a feature that is present in all of your works. What influenced this artistic choice?
Curiosity and playfulness are the answers.
I work with a lovely local framer and we try all sorts of new things, learning both as we are going on. The right frame is so important for any kind of art I find. Like a perfect dress. Much depends on the painting itself, the setting it’s exhibited in, the person falling in love with it and where it finds it’s permanent home. Some paintings though like the little works on paper benefit from space and some calm so I keep the framing neutral to give the work space to breath. The neon frames don’t work with every painting. They can be over-powering and I swop canvases and frames if I think they don’t work.
We’re always very interested in artist studios - what’s the best part of where you work?
It’s part of the old Calf Pens at a local farm in the next village. It’s drafty and cold but the best place in the world. In the building next to me is a pottery school and a florist who grows her own flowers shares the other end of the Calf Pens with me. She does the most amazing posies, jam jars and hand tied bunches of seasonal flowers. We bounce of each other really well. You always find some of her leftover flowers in myself studio and subsequently on canvas, as they often provide inspiration for a shape, a colour pop? or a structural element. I go to my studio every day. I might not get to paint every time, often it’s the pottering about, the small sketches and dodles, the contemplation of recent works that stimulate a new beginning and I take it from there. I surround myself with stimulating art, quotes, plants, flowers and paintings. All are part of my creative process, some are more abstruse than others.
Looking back on your career so far, have there been any moments that changed your course or released something artistically? I saw you transitioned from motorsport marketing to painting full time — how did that come about?
Yes I studied sport and business in Germany and worked in Marketing and Communications in F1 before becoming a painter. It was full on but great to see the world and meet interesting people. I worked as a freelance for some years after that and simultaneously painted, building up my skill set and technical toolbox in the craft of oil painting. The painting part got more and more time consuming as I started selling my landscapes and still lifes and 2 years ago I took my savings, found the studio space (full of boxes at the time) and decided to make myself a professional painter. I gave myself 24months to see if I can make it work and the change in commitment reflected in the expressiveness and size of my works. I gained confidence in painting itself and my work developed into what I am exhibiting at the moment at the Jam Factory. People that know me and look at my canvases say: This is so you! That is the biggest compliment for me. If you like my work I am sure we get on swimmingly in person as well.
On your website, you write that you hope the viewer ‘visually explore[s]’ and identifies with your paintings. Can you share a reaction to one of your paintings that has moved you?
As the paintings are not of a subject or thing people fall involved with the works in different levels and for different reasons. It might be the colours, the gestural mark making, maybe they can see something that reminds only them of a time or a place.
It’s the look of surprise that makes me most happy I think. It’s particularly evident during Art Fairs when people just come to browse and enjoy looking at art, not necessarily with the intent to buy anything. They walk past, stop, look, smile, come closer. You can see they want to touch the works (that’s the speaking to all the senses bit), they step back again. Then they look at other paintings on my stand but you can see them looking back at that first one, the one with the instant impact. They then have a glass of fizz for courage and come back, buy the works, panic about what they have done and a day later send me a photograph of the painting in situ with a happy email saying thanks. I hope my art is accessible on many levels and encourages people to not be afraid of buying a piece of original art. It’s a very personal process but everyone can fall in love with a piece of art and it will bring joy for a long time. How good is my job!
And finally — where else can admirers of your work view your pieces this year?
I always have some paintings at the Brian Sinfield Gallery in Burford (www.briansinfield.com) where you see my works in a beautiful Cotswold setting. My florals on paper are currently on show at The Lanesborough Hotel in Central London (www.https://www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-lanesborough/) and there is a group exhibition coming up at the Zari Gallery in London, Mayfair (www.zarigallery.co.uk) in which I have 4 larger paintings on show. You always find updates on exhibition on my website (www.studioschaumloeffel.com). If you do drive past my studio here in Clanfield, send me an email. There is a great little bakery in the village (www.blakeskitchen.com) as well with Cinnamon buns that have helped me through many a painting marathon.
Silvi’s dynamic exhibition, ‘Floral Mayhem’, is on show at The Jam Factory from the 21st June to 7th August 2022. You can also find her on Instagram (@studioschaumloeffel), or check out her website at www.studioschaumloeffel.com.
For enquiries and sales, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or pop in and have a chat.
Credit to Gabrielle Smith - Questions written by Gabrielle. July 2022