We want to introduce you to Vancouver, BC abstract artist Beth W. Stewart. Check out the interview below to get to know Beth and see more of her artwork.
Vancouver, BC Artist Beth W. Stewart
How would you describe your artistic style?
What’s the main inspiration for your art?
Historical and contemporary social justice issues. I started painting while doing a PhD in social justice and now I teach it, so I’m naturally oriented toward acts of resistance. Painting is how I express my emotions from bearing witness to the stories of resistance that I explore as an educator and researcher.
What is the biggest goal you try to achieve with your art?
Every painting is a process of ‘working through’ unsettled emotions and ultimately reaching a point that celebrates humanity. Engaging in social justice issues can sometimes be disheartening, but painting helps to ensure that I don’t get stuck there, that I flip the feelings of helplessness to ones of joy and hope. Creatively expressing my emotions re-directs my attention to the resistance and/or radical kindness that is all around us (if we look hard enough).
What’s your favourite thing about being an abstract artist?
It’s the process of abstract painting. It’s a therapeutic process for me because it allows me to express myself in ways that aren’t bound by the rules of language and realism. The process of abstract painting leads me from inner turmoil to something beautiful.
Why abstract art and not other mediums? Have you always created abstract art or did you start out creating other styles?
Abstract art because there are no rules. I started abstract painting at a time in my life when I wasn’t able to work with words, when life felt too heavy and chaotic to be processed in any logical way, so being able to express myself creatively without rules was essential. Before abstract painting I had only ever done stylized illustrations and pencil portraits—very controlled.
If you could describe your art in three words, what would they be?
Vibrant, meaningful, energetic.
What’s one thing people might not know about you and/or your art journey so far?
I began painting abstract art in the midst of doing PhD research in post-conflict northern Uganda with children born inside the rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Did you always know you’d be an artist or how has your art journey progressed?
I’ve been making art since childhood, but my creative practice paused when I became a mother. I then started painting when my youngest was three years old (2012) and that was that.
In your opinion, what’s the most important personal characteristic needed to embark on a career as an artist?
Passion. Passion is necessary to push past all the obstacles, both inner and external ones.
What advice would you give up and coming abstract artists?
Accept and embrace that being an artist is as much about business/marketing as it is about creating art, if not more. If you’re clueless about business (as I was), investing in an art business coach is worth it.
Do you have any favourite podcasts or books that you love and that have contributed to your journey as an artist?
Lately, I seem to find reasons to return to Frantz Fanon’s book, ‘The Wretched of the Earth.’ It moves my conscience and that inspires me.
Art specific podcasts: The Inspiration Place (Miriam Schulman), Creative Pep Talk (Andy Pizza).
What’s your most fulfilling and enjoyable experience as an artist so far?
Listening to folks share the different ways they experience my art, because these conversations inevitably lead to interesting stories!
Where do you see yourself and your art in 5 years?
A full-time artist, inspired by activism I encounter while traveling, and sharing my art with collectors around the world.
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