Interview with Artist, Bekky Beukes

When I had decided to undergo my year long poetry challenge steeped in the nothing but art, I was not sure which artists I was going to showcase via my writing — as there were a plethora of amazing artists out there.   I was EXTREMELY picky with the artists that I selected, each one brilliant in their own right.  While researching I discovered the work of Bekky Beukes scrolling through Instagram.  I fell completely in LOVE hook, line, and sinker with Bekky’s body of work.  The manner in which intricate details come to life throughout her pieces is truly remarkable. Between the: feathers, scales, arrows, eyes, runes, all the images are simultaneously meticulous and GORGEOUS. I honestly never know which part of the piece I should look at first, as all the details hit like a bull charging at me while I take Matador form. The intellectual explosion from the attraction to Bekky’s pieces constantly leaves me in a mood to write.  Whenever I’m exposed to new painting by Bekky my mirth oozes – I NEVER know where her muse will take her next. But I must say it’s always a delightful journey and at times a onyx riddled one. A true kindred spirit, I’m grateful for her presence in my life. For more information on Bekky, check out her site and Instagram @bekkybeukes. oh and p.s. some of the pieces I\’ve posted in this interview are for sale in her store. Check it out — I know you\’ll see something you like! 
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
BB: When I get to the studio, I open all the windows and doors to get as much of the outside, inside. I’ll work my palette and replace any paint that no longer has the correct consistency. I mix my colors and spend some time going over my sketch – I like silence for my set up, sometimes I will be in silence for the entire session, other times I may decide on a playlist and when I start a new painting it will have the same playlist until that painting is finished – the music and my flow for each piece are connected throughout.
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked, if yes, how did you over come it?
BB: Yes, I have had periods where I feel that I am unable to create work, before 2019 these periods were very short, maybe a few days and so I didn’t feel it was severe enough to over come. In 2019 I experienced a very intense ‘fear’ of my studio and of making work, I felt very disconnected and for the first time it felt like pressure instead of release. This was largely due to over committing myself in every area of my life and so first I had to recognize this.  My creative flow needs space to breathe and I had none to give it. I overcame this block with silencing parts of my life that could afford to be silenced in order for me to regain some of that vital breathing room.
RMMW: As an Artist what is your favourite medium to create with?
BB: I love painting with oil, I find the texture to be very full and rich like velvet. Acrylic dries almost immediately so you have to build layers with washes to achieve a good blend whereas oil layers take a few days to dry so there is enough time to sculpt the work. I work on multiple pieces simultaneously in rotation to keep the flow consistent.  
RMMW: Do you have a piece that you are most proud of and why?
BB: I have been proud of each piece I abandon, for the learning they represent. Some pieces have been more challenging than others making them relevant to my development as an artist, so I feel proud of these ’transition pieces’ for teaching me more about myself.
RMMW: How do you know when your work is finished?
BB: Jackson Pollock answered this question in an interview by asking the interviewer “how do you know when you are finished making love?” I adore Jackson Pollock for his blatant and unapologetic disregard for anything other than the work, as if he were consensually possessed by it. I personally believe a painting can forever be developed, I could spend the rest of my life working on one piece, but the desire to experience infinite color and twisted, limitless form is greater than the desire to achieve perfection once. So, I think I choose the moment where I feel the work no longer needs my own validation, sometimes it feels like that moment will never come, but it does, and I can begin something new.
RMMW: What do you feel are the current struggles artists face in this day and age?
BB: “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”
― Donald Woods Winnicott
This quote accurately describes what I believe the most natural struggle for artists to be, especially today as citizens of Social Media; an imaginary place where thoughts can be easily expressed and just as easily forgotten. Social Media has empowered artists, providing them with tools to promote themselves, gallery representation is no longer crucial in order to find success. However, self-promotion requires that artists consistently narrate their own story. I think the pressure to communicate is greater than in the past and finding uninterrupted solitude, necessary for a healthy flow, is more difficult to achieve.
RMMW: When did you first start to draw and create art?
BB: One of my earliest childhood memories is sketching in the pages of my bible during church sermons. I’ve always been inclined to draw, I took art as a subject at school after which I studied fashion design became the owner of a fashion label in South Africa, where I’m from. In 2014, I came to America leaving behind the country that defined me, it was a difficult transition. I was unable to legally work for the first year, so I rented an art studio in Ybor City, FL where I began painting again.
RMMW: Are you a full-time artist?
BB: No, I work remotely as a brand coordinator and designer.
RMMW: Your pieces require tons of details for example when you draw your snakes, do the snakes come first or the scales or patterns inside of them?
BB: The relationship between the forms (snake/s) develop first, then tonal layers of the form (snake/s), building a 3D illusion, after that its a dance between the content of the form (scales) and the form itself. Everything happens in a series of layers, until the foundation is rich and I’m able to begin sculpting the details unscripted.
RMMW: What preparations do you have to make when you are painting murals?
BB: Murals are very physical and happen at a high-speed pace compared to my studio work. Preparations would include, having the wall primed, purchasing supplies (aerosol + acrylic, brushes, rollers, buckets, blue tape, drop cloth etc.), I communicate with the site manager to make sure the site meets safety requirements specifically if I will be operating lifts. As soon as I am able, I’ll photograph the wall for a scaled reference for mock-ups and begin sketching. Once my design is complete I either free-hand the sketch directly to the wall or if there is a time restriction, bad weather forecast or if the wall is too large to freehand, I use a projector and transfer my sketch at night onto the wall.
Once the sketch is on the wall, I am ready to go:)
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
BB: That’s easy, immortality, immunity against time:)

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