Sydney Luca Lion, our Art Editor, interviews Kate Marriott about her amazing self-portraits, her inspiration, and the importance of experimenting with your art.



SL: What mediums did you use for these? And what is your favourite medium in general?

KM: I used graphite sticks on this really heavy, grainy watercolour cartridge paper for the sketches, and then a combination of watercolours and inks on cartridge paper for the paintings. My favourite medium by far is ink – it is immediately vibrant – you do not have to keep adding layers, like with watercolour, or faff on mixing all the colours and then getting them all over your mum’s best rug like with acrylic. As I have quite a short and abrupt attention span, and tend to do paintings in brief bursts of over-enthusiastic vigour and then be done with them, it rescues me from some of the pitfalls of my unfortunately un-perfectionistic approach.

SL: Are all the pieces self-portraits? And what inspires you to capture a certain face or expression?

KM: All the paintings are ‘selfies’, created when I have felt lonely or frustrated or sad or just groundlessly disgruntled. What I impulsively find most interesting are faces contorted by extreme expression – like a wide-open mouth, or the scrunching up of a nose, or distorted by a hand which presses on a cheek or deforms an eye. (Thankfully I have quite voluptuous and jowly cheeks so there is a lot of scope for experimentation.)

Experimentation is also really the most important thing and whenever I get frustrated on uninspired it is usually because I am trying to make something ‘look good’ – either really precise and accurate, or like something someone else has done, – to the point where it means nothing to me – it sort of feels like painting-prostitution (… or that is how I imagine it at least!). But if I do not finish a picture without regretting giving that jaw ‘just one flourish more of putrid purple’ or ‘expressively working back into that nostril’, it usually means I have not got carried away and enjoyed it. And so though I always leave a painting feeling dissatisfied – like I wish I had not been quite so enthusiastically liberal with my application, it sort of spurs me on to the next.



Sydney Luca Lion