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CHARLOTTE HAMILTON - BLUE SHINE ART

on August 23, 2021

Niki
Charlotte, first, thank you for chatting with us, and especially for being the first person in our new Canadian makers and artists segments. Please introduce yourself, who you are, what's your story, and of course, what do you do?

Charlotte
Okay, so I am Charlotte, from England originally, but my parents are both Scandinavian, hence the love for Danish products. I am over here in Canada, and I've been here for 21 years. I came over here after living in Spain for seven years, because I went to Spain for art school, and I loved it. I was staying on the little island of Mallorca. If you're from Europe, you know Mallorca in the Mediterranean. I went to a very traditional art school in Spain and ended up just loving the islands. So, I stayed there, learnt the language, I also learned Italian at the time. Then one year I met my husband, who was on holiday. It was love at first sight. I said, I can either come to Canada, and be with you and we can give it a try. Or you can come over to Spain, but he didn't know the Spanish language, so I tried living in Canada. I fell in love with his people, and I've been here for 21 years. It sounds like a lot of years behind me, but I've been doing art, I've always done art. It's been my passion ever since I was in school. I didn't want to do anything else. So, science was like, I don't want to do science. I don't want to do history, I want to do art. And I just kept going and I think if you have that passion, you just follow through with what you love doing and you'll be happy every day.

Niki
That’s super interesting. My story is actually very similar because I came over here to travel and ran into my wife. The story was similar to yours; either we moved to Denmark and live there, which is nigh on impossible, or I come over here. And that was 14 years ago, and just like you, that's a long time. All of a sudden you start looking back.

Charlotte
Canadians are pretty special. They're very open, and I felt like Europe, especially where I was, it was very narrow minded, people weren't willing to grow. I think over here, there are so many opportunities, which is great.

Niki
Yeah, I absolutely fell in love with the Canadian people and the Canadian culture. It's a beautiful country. So next question. We noticed you on Instagram where you made this beautiful painting of your Duckfeet Fåborg boots. That painting looks absolutely amazing, and we'll be sure to feature that in our post here. The rest of your art looks amazing as well. You already talked a little bit about it, but maybe you want to elaborate on how you got started in the world of art?

Charlotte
Well, like I said, I went to art school in Spain and from there, I started doing a lot of interior decoration and mural art rather than smaller sized art. We would go into residential home. I worked with my boyfriend at the time who was a muralist. They wanted a mural on their wall. I did a lot of the paint effects, faux marbling and faux stones. Then I ventured into decorating kids’ bedrooms. I did a whole bunch of kids’ bedrooms. It’s seems to roll into you end up as an artist if you're very flexible. You start doing other things because you do a lot of one thing. The murals went into kids’ bedrooms, and then from there, I did kids illustrations. Then I started teaching kids when I came over to Canada. I had set up a summer camp for kids in my studio and I would have eight kids every week, and it would rotate through the weeks of the summer. I would have six weeks or eight weeks of art camp sometimes. The kids would range from five years old to thirteen years old. From there, I got into teaching in school. They would bring in different artists in different schools and I would teach them how to do portraiture. I love doing portraits. It's one of my passions, and I also love painting landscapes as well. So, it kind of rolled into that. As soon as I had kids, when I came to Canada, I went from doing a lot of murals outside the home to doing more illustrative work inside the home. For the past year and a half since the pandemic started, I was supposed to run a March Art Camp which didn't happen. Instead, I suggested to the people who were signed up to the camp. that I'll do Instagram Live every morning for the kids so we can still teach them. I'll run the Instagram Live like a class, and we'll have a set prompt list for the whole week so that they could get an idea of what I was going to do. Anyway, a whole bunch of other people joined because Instagram is open. We ended up doing month by month, different prompts. And because everybody was working from home, they were able to join 8 AM in the morning. And from March 16, 2020, we have done an Instagram Live every morning since then. I have sketchbooks everywhere filled with projects. We've done everything from a month of famous artists, we did a month of recipe illustrations, we did quotes, we've done places around the world. We did a hundred-day project, stay at home project so we looked at everything around us. I think if you do art every day, it feels really satisfying because you come away with something that you've produced and made; it's very satisfying. I guess it's something like, if you're a knitter or if you're a maker in general, you have to do things with your hands the whole time. Then I get commissions due to my Instagram page. A lot of people will ask me for either a portraits or pet portraits. I do a lot of pet portraits and even house portraits, which is funny. The portraiture world has grown from just a face to your house, your shoes, your animals. That's really my life right now, is a lot of artwork.

Portrait of a man with a mustache Portrait of a pet dog

Niki Techen
So you've obviously been very, very busy since March 2020. You've done a morning sketch every single day. That's a lot. And wow, kudos to you for doing that because I think you're helping so many people release their inner creative person. And I think that's what it comes down to, the amazing thing about art is that you create stuff, you create something out of nothing. That is something that I think is truly special. So, you mentioned that some of your favorite pieces to do are portraits, people portraits, and landscapes. How do you get your inspiration? Do you walk down the street, and you see this special person and you're like, hey, mind if I paint you?

Charlotte
Actually, back in 2013, I came across an artist on Instagram, and a lot of my connections have been through Instagram. It's been great that way. She was drawing beautiful artists who does really lovely portraits. I saw that she had tagged this company called Sktchy and they were just starting out. They had developed this app where you can add your picture, like a photo of yourself into your profile, and then artists on the app will draw you through your profile. So, for probably five years, every day, I was using Sktchy as a way to find inspiration because everybody posts pictures of themselves, so it's copyright free because you're accepting their terms and conditions. You don't have to ask for permission. And then you can upload your art; it's a great app. When you upload your art, you swipe to the left and you see the original photo. Now they have grown, and they actually have classes on there as well. I have taught portrait classes on there. They now have a group of artists who are instructors, so it's grown to be an art school and not just an app. Then another place where I find inspiration is pictures in your camera roll. It is such a great place to find photos of family. That was another month that we did on Instagram Live: we did a Family February, where we chose inspiration from our family and photos from our camera roll, which was really nice. That's giving importance to people who are special in your life, is really something that tugs at my heart anyway.

family portrait christmas card

Niki
I think that's really interesting, the Family February month. I've had family members pass away and lots of photos of them, but like digital photos now are less than a dime a dozen, right? So having something that was painted, created, is truly special, so, I think that's a really cool thing you did there and that must have meant a lot to a lot of people, I think.

Charlotte
It does, and I think you get so wrapped up in your world, that it's actually nice to pause and think about your family and your past and your history, right? And what it meant to you and just dedicating a an hour every day to your family, I think, is important. It meant a lot to a lot of people. The morning classes, everyone said, I can't believe what I have remembered from my past and my childhood. So that was fun to do that.

Niki
Yeah, it's awesome for you as an artist, how you're touching so many people's lives. I guess that's the whole thing with art, that you get to influence so many people's lives. And on that note, I tried my hand at painting as well, similar style to your Instagram Live, although a different setting. I was looking at the instructor, I was given the same materials as the instructor and the canvas and everything. The results that I managed to produce was nothing like my instructor’s, it was oddly different. If I wanted to give it another try, though, what is your advice to someone who wants to start in the world of sketching and painting.

Charlotte
I think it's really important to do it consistently, so every day. I've done this as well in the beginning when I was doing portraiture. I couldn’t dedicate an hour a day, but I could dedicate 10 minutes. Even if you put a timer on and you say: “I'm going to do this for 10 minutes”. Consistency is key. Even if you open up your cupboard and you pull something out, the ketchup, the pepper mill, a fork, and you dedicate 10 minutes to looking and actually studying that object, whether it's with a pencil, a marker, a crayon, and just get a sketchbook and focus on that object for 10 minutes and draw what you see. I think you'll be positively surprised at your change in ability to recognize and do different things with your pencil. It is quite incredible if you just do it every day.

Niki
I will have to try that because I like the idea of creating art. But my result just wasn't up to par. So, I'm going to have to give it the 10 minutes a day then I'll see how far I get in creating some pieces of art. Whether that is a fork, or something more elaborate. I'm going to have to give it a go.

painting of a bowl of grapes

Charlotte
I think it’s a great idea. I think my way of teaching is different to other people's. When I teach portraiture, I don't teach how to look at the head and always draw the head the same. I teach how to see the light in an object or see the light in the landscape because when you see the light, you see the life and as long as you can draw in the shadows in between the light, you create this world, which is incredible. You should do some of my classes too. I teach Zoom classes as well because of the pandemic. I went from teaching in person to teaching Zoom classes. I have an overhead camera so people can see me teaching step by step. It is almost as good as in person because in person, I feel like I teach the students, but they don't actually see what I'm doing. So at least when they can see me actually creating, something clicks in them. Clicks because they can see my hand moving and doing the actual strokes rather than just talking in the classroom. In that way, it's been great.

outdoor landscape portrait

Niki
Yeah, especially for what you do when you can get up close and personal with the strokes of the pencil or brush. I think that has really helped someone like you build a new audience. And actually, I agree with you. I think it's a better result because students can get so close. So, there's a saying that if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. In speaking with you here, you are super passionate about everything art. What do you do when you don't create art?

Charlotte
I cook, I look after my kids. My girls are both older now, they're both teenagers but it's a misconception that younger kids are more work than older kids. I have two girls and just the emotional drama is a lot more than when they were younger. We recently got a puppy, she's 10 months old, but she's a lot of work. I walk a lot, I exercise, I meet up with friends for walks outside. I don't think anybody has been in our house for a year and a half now. Travel, I love travelling, I miss travelling, I miss seeing my parents in England and my family. It's probably just like you, it's just you over here in Canada, right? I love being outside going for walks in the forest. And nature is big.

Niki
We're going to have to talk more separately on the whole thing of raising girls, because I have two of them, eight and ten. I want to know what I'm in for here. Okay, so the last question I've got for you today is, what are you working on right now that you want to share with us? And then obviously, we want to know where we can see your work and otherwise connect with you.

Charlotte
We just did a class on Sktchy on the portrait app, which has now kind of branched out a little bit. We just did a month called “30 places 30 days”. I was one of 12 different instructors teaching. We were working on landscapes, interior places, for instance a room portrait, I'm doing a lot more landscapes which are called colour blocking, and we've been using it a lot more. It's a good way to cover a piece. I work quickly. It's not like people complain in my classes that I work quickly, but they're like, oh my god I can't keep up with you. I only have a certain amount of time during the day, and I want to get it finished. Colour blocking is where you block in the colour and then you put detail on afterwards. We've been doing a bit of that and I love things like interiors of greenhouses. Another project that I recently did, was originally a similar story to Duckfeet. They are slippers for this company called Holistic Silk in England. They contacted me and said that they loved my work. I love studying the different textures of different things that come up in my world. Another ongoing, commissioned project, that I do every year is Christmas cards, but they’re family Christmas cards. I get all the photos of the people in the family. Then I ask them what they would like to be on, whether it's a Father Christmas sleigh. This is my husband and our family, and he flies small airplanes. This is his little plane that he flies and that's our dog as well. I create a family portrait and then the family take the image, and then they can print it on their own cards if they like to, and then they receive the original as well. They can be in front of a Christmas tree or anything in a car that is special to them or anything. I love those illustrations, and I'll start doing those at the end of August to keep up the demand for Christmas. I have a lot of little projects that I like doing other than my morning classes. And then I have my teaching. I feel very busy when I talk to people about what I do, but it's just my life, I guess.

greenhouse-painting indoor kitchen painting

Niki
Well, it goes right back to what I was saying before. If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. Even in explaining, it sounds like a lot but it's love. It's passion. And you can never have too much of that.

Charlotte
I would like to ask for another 12 hours in the day, that would be my one wish if I could have a wish.

Niki
Charlotte, thank you so much for your time today. It was great getting to know you and I look forward to seeing many more of your creations in the future.

If you want to connect with Charlotte, reach out to her here:

instagram.com/blueshineart

facebook.com/blueshineart

blueshineart.com

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