Artist in residence
Night owl The Stellar Art Award-winning artist invites us into her digital workspace and explains why she prefers to paint after sunset
I work in a 250-year-old building. It’s nestled between the North Sea, just a few hundred metres away on one side, and old castle ruins, a mile up a hill on the other. Minimalist, high-tech interiors don’t sit well with me. Neither do large, open spaces. That’s why the smallest room on the second floor of my house is the perfect place to set up my digital workstation.
Another bonus: it’s north facing. There’s nothing more annoying than sun glare on a screen while trying to work on the rare occasions that I sit at the computer during the day, because I’m either in my studio
assaulting one or the other canvas with real paint, or more likely, sleeping.
I’m a night owl by default. Usually, I get the best ideas some time after midnight. With everything around me dark and quiet, I get a lot more done. I’ve never been one to organise my work or follow a strict schedule, even when working to deadlines.
In the same vein, brainstorming – as the term suggests – happens in my brain, not in sketchbooks, which is why you won’t find anything near my desk, other than the tablet, that might hint at me doing any kind of visual art. Odd? Maybe. But it works for me. And while it may be a perfectly normal sight to most digital artists, it’s still strange for me to see an iMac on my desk, as I’ve only ever had PCs up until 18 months ago. Perhaps it’s a little ironic that since having the Mac, I’ve barely been working digitally, where I used to spend almost all day in front of that desk, every day.
Having said that, over the years I’ve learned that painted floorboards and office chairs – mine’s been with me for 15 years – don’t mix well. But the thought of putting carpet down never really appealed to me. I like things once they look lived in, like they have a story to tell. It’s my world: comfortable and sometimes a tad chaotic. Find out more about Nykolai and see more of her art at www.admemento.com.
When I don’t paint, I like to dig around any books and documents I can find on Leonardo da Vinci – in particular, his own notebooks. This is an extra-heavy desk. I’ve had my share of flimsy desks, glass desks and dinner-table desks, and they all drove me crazy. When I saw this one I just had to have it, and I’ve not regretted it. A couple of my larger Leonardo books. While I’m not overly inspired by his paintings, I could browse his written works and sketches for hours. His personality shines through in both: complex yet strikingly unfussy, subtle yet beautifully bold.
Southbay (and the North Sea) just behind my house, with its harbour and lighthouse. It’s perfect for studying lighting conditions. My walls are bare because I want nothing to distract me from my own imagination. It really is as simple as that. A little collection of art books where my work features, bar the two Assassin’s Creed concept art books. It’s incomplete, with two or three books being with my parents, and another one that I don’t remember where. What, no Cintiq? Nope. This baby’s travelled halfway around the world with me for the past five years, from Pretoria, via Montreal, to Los Angeles, and it works perfectly fine. I’m just stubborn like that. This printer only gets connected when it has to be. I usually use it to produce sketches for transferring to the canvas.