Brendan Martin is a Lower Hutt-based artist who studies with The Learning Connexion via distance delivery. This is a follow-up chat with Brendan, who we last spoke to in 2019.
Kia ora Brendan. How have you seen your work progress over the last few years?
When I studied the Diploma in Creativity Level 5 from 2018 to 2020, I gained an understanding of creative process and practice and explored different creative ideas in a range of styles and media. Back then I spent significant amounts of time researching subjects before I started, viewing the work of other artists for inspiration. Also, during this time, I developed a fascination with Greek mythology and explored different Greek myths artistically.
I have discovered deeply personal stories in the characters from Greek mythology which my art study at TLC has given me the licence to explore.
Since starting Level 6 study in 2021, I have increased my understanding of creative process and practice, and investigated Greek mythology even more deeply. A big change has been a shift in creative approach and focus; during Level 5 I searched for ideas externally and looked to the outside world and other artists’ work as a source of influence and direction. Now in studying Level 6, I look internally for inspiration and guidance. I “go within” for an idea and then work through an intuitive creative process to bring that idea out into the world.
You've recently been taking Kiran Gandhi's Drawing and Painting Evening Classes. What have you enjoyed about this class in particular?
Kiran’s classes are the perfect mix for me, I can work on my own projects independently and also seek advice from Kiran when I need it. I have used pencil, paint, and charcoal extensively as part of this amazing learning experience. These classes have helped me explore new ideas in a safe and creative environment. Kiran has taught art for many years and has vast artistic experience to share; he is also an accomplished artist himself.
With Kiran’s encouragement and support, I have had the courage to explore different media in ways that I might not have done on my own.
Has it helped your other work at TLC?
There is definite cross-over into other projects and tasks that I do as part of my TLC study. I often review the work I have produced in Kiran’s class with my mentor, Sophie Saunders. Together we gather learning and insights that often lead into a new creative project or task. I also find that contact with Kiran and the other students during the on-site class gives me motivation and encouragement to keep going; I carry this energy and enthusiasm into my art study at home.
You are now a few years into your time at TLC, how have you enjoyed the overall experience?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my TLC experience and I have met some amazing students. I have also been very fortunate to work with two brilliantly talented mentors, Billy Wilson and Sophie Saunders. I have attended a wide range of on-site classes, including drawing, painting, printmaking, jewellery making, and picture framing.
The best aspect of my TLC experience is the way that the programmes and support have evolved to suit my learning needs.
In the early days during my Level 5 study, I needed structure and guidance. This was given to me by my mentor, during on-site classes and via the school’s online resources. Now during my Level 6 study, I need motivation and advice regarding specific topics. My current mentor Sophie is a constant source of inspiration and an incredible sounding board. Sophie has vast knowledge of art practice and history, as well as considerable “hands-on” experience as a highly accomplished artist. I am also supported by Kiran who provides a broad range of technical advice during his classes, as well as a significant amount of reference artwork.
Lately, I have found that sharing ideas and experiences with other artists is extremely beneficial. Students who attend Kiran’s class, my mentor, and the Instagram artist community have all become amazing sources of inspiration and encouragement. My peers often have a fresh perspective and are incredibly supportive. They see things in the work that I do not see and provide revealing insights. I am extremely appreciative of those artists who willingly share their time and knowledge with me.
Any recent news or success stories with your art and creative journey you would like to share with us?
During my Level 6 studies, I have had enquiries from the general public to purchase my artwork. I have sold several paintings and recently gifted a piece to a close family member for a significant birthday, which was gratefully received.
I am planning to hold a public exhibition towards the end of this year. Entitled 'Lessons from the Labyrinth', it will showcase the significant pieces from my Level 6 studies.
Anything else you would like to say about your TLC journey so far?
My TLC journey has been incredible. I have been very fortunate to have had the best of both worlds in terms of tailored learning at home via distance delivery study and mentor programme, as well as on-site classes. I am extremely grateful to TLC for supporting this journey and helping me to grow and develop every step of the way.
Art has always given me the opportunity to explore my internal world, TLC has given me the means to do this in a safe and creative way.
Plans for the future?
When I finish Level 6 in February 2023, I will evaluate where I am at artistically and determine next steps. I would love to complete the Diploma of Art and Creativity (Advanced, Level 7). This would be a natural progression from Level 6 and would be the final step in working towards the development of my own professional art practice.
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