Careers In Art: Virginia Cuppaidge

Term: 3 Year: 2007


At what age did you decide to make a career from visual arts?
At age 6 I knew I was an artist, and I decided that it could be a career in my late teens.

Do you come from a creative family?
Yes I do. My mother is an artist also.

What is a day in the life of Virginia Cuppaidge like?
As well as my painting career I teach drawing and painting part time. I work best at night. Mornings are spent dong art business. That is the hard but necessary part. I am in the zone when making paintings and don’t want to come out of that place. Teaching is demanding but it keeps me current, and I have learned a lot about myself working with students. I go to art museums and art galleries every chance I get and listen to music while I work.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
Oil paint on canvas and gouache on paper. Oil slows me down which I need as I am impatient to get the painting done, and it has a wonderful feel to it. I love the smell of oil paint. Gouache is a wonderful medium for paper. Gouache makes me use smaller more flowing shapes.

What effect has the computer age had on your work?
It has had a great and very positive effect to be connected to the World from where I live and work, I use computer graphics to do prints and design cards, but my paintings still come from the inner creative part of me.

What are some of the negative aspects of your job?
Keeping on top of the business side. Being my own worst secretary.

What is something you would love to do that you haven’t already done?
Stage set for contemporary opera.

How would you describe your first solo exhibition?
A positive surprise At AM Sachs Gallery, 57th street in New York City in 1973. The art dealer said, “You won’t sell any work because no one knows your name”. My first sale in New York City. A man walked in off the street and bought one, just because he liked it. Clement Greenberg saw the show and told the dealer “This work is very mature for a young artist”.

Where do you get most of your inspiration?
Looking at and experiencing nature. I never want to imitate it, but the colour and the light have a lasting effect on my mind, and it permeates every brush stroke I make on the canvas.

What fellow artist has most influenced you?
In the past few years. Robert Irwin, for his absolute simplicity and its effects of light and colour in his work. Lee Krasner for her density of forms and her wild paint application. Also for knowing before anyone else, that her husband was a brilliant artist. Brice Marden for being open to experimentation in the way he works. It creates freedom in his paintings. In the past: El Greco for the most beautiful colour that defines all his forms and creates very emotional images. Every time I look at his paintings I see something new that he has achieved. Giotto for being so contemporary for his time and his exquisite sense of colour

What’s your favourite piece of work to date?
I favour them all for different reasons but there is one… A painting called “Clouds in The Mountain” in the collection of the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC. It is one of my most original works.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
A paisley print, pink and gold silk skirt purchased from Banana Republic. I have been wearing black since I was a teenager and lately I have to have colour in my wardrobe. 

Who would you most like to sit next to on a flight to Europe?
Not sure who, but a creative person who was using that time to make music or art and I could talk to them about that. I am most relaxed around creative people and if they didn’t want to talk at all that’s OK too. 

If you were speaking to a secondary school student who was showing interest in following in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
Only become an artist if you have a true calling for it. It is a really, exciting and interesting life, but not an easy one. Making art is very empowering and it has a lasting effect on people. It is the only truly peaceful statement to make. Other artists will be your help throughout life, because they understand the life you have chosen.