An artist profile of Marta Chudolinska.
Describe your process of creating a piece. What materials do you normally work with?
I draw and paint on paper, wood and board with pencil, crayon, ink, watercolour, gouache and more recently oil paint. I'm quite the dumpster diving pack rat, so I often work with discarded materials such as cardboard, mat board, and plywood. Recently I've become obsessed with paper cut outs and weaving. I have been weaving with strips of paper or polymer clay which has been an exciting tactile challenge. More and more sculptural qualities are working their way into my pieces.
I also make prints, linoleum relief cuts and drypoint intaglios. Both processes involve carving or scraping deeply into the printing plate. It's interesting trying to find the balance between exerting force and producing something delicate. I also make books and zines of all kinds. I do it all!
I mostly work from memory and imagination. Sometimes I use photos I've taken as inspiration. I never spend too much time fretting about what a drawing is going to look like. I let my hand lead the way and respond to whatever happens.
My first graphic novel Back + Forth is being published by the Porcupine's Quill press. The book launch will be in the early fall. It is a wordless novel told in 90 linocuts set in Toronto and Vancouver. It's a story about a young woman exploring the city and loneliness and loss (and it's got some sexy bits). I have a blog, which has some writing and updates about the project.
I also just finished a print for a collaborative book being put together by Free North Press, a local print studio and press that I sometimes work with.
When are you most productive?
I do my best work in the period between dusk and 3am, basically as far from daylight as possible. There's a feeling of peace after everyone has gone to sleep, a quiet space to make. I also really enjoy working with other people, either separately or together. It's good to be able to build on someone else's creative energy.
When did creating art become something important in your life?
When I was really little, I spent a lot of time entertaining myself. I think I used drawing to tell myself stories and I guess now I try to do that for other people.
A few years ago, I was in school in Vancouver, at the University of British Columbia. I was studying theatre and English and art, which was fine, but somewhere in that time I realized that art was the most important thing. All of my class notes were smothered with drawings. I just couldn't stop. So I moved back to Toronto and started studying drawing and painting and printmaking at OCAD. I guess that's when I made a real commitment to having art in my life.
What are some of your favorite spots in the city? Some favourite places to go, eat, drink, bike ride?
The Toronto Islands are awesome for a bike ride and picnic, a great chance to get away from the concrete of the city. I like to land on Hanlan's Point and bike around to Ward Island. On real sketchy nights I end up at Mel's Deli eating poutine, without the customary smoked meat. I like dancing at the Boat and shows at the Tranzac. I also love the TTC- the streetcar and subway are such interesting public places, and great for watching people. Ideal coffee in Kensington is a real staple as well. It's a great place to sit with friends or run into people, and you can smell the coffee roasting from a block away.
What are you currently obsessed with? Any blogs, pod casts, films, artists?
Lilli Carre is a comic artist that I am increasingly interested in. She tells very strange stories, depicted in a simple and gentle line. The online comic horribleville used to satisfy my evil sense of humor but sadly it just got cancelled.
I read the Shameless blog pretty regularly. It's a great locally produced magazine that provides a fresh and intelligent perspective for young women. The magazine is intended for teens, but I think the discussions apply to women in their twenties as well. I'm also currently in love with a band called Library Voices from Regina. Go Can-con!
What are your thoughts on the Toronto art scene compared to everywhere else you've experienced?
At times it feels warm, at times it feels cold. I've been to smaller cities where it was much easier to get involved in things; people and galleries were much more open. There's a lot of opportunity in Toronto though, a lot of stuff going on. I know a lot of great people making spectacular work who inspire me and drive me to push myself. I haven't shown much but I don't feel much pressure or anxiety to do that right away. I'd rather bide my time, hone my craft and knock everyone's socks off a few years down the line.
What is your survival food? Cheap eats for the starving artist?
It only costs $2.75 to visit my mom and eat her delicious soups! Bakeries in Chinatown have often filled my poor and empty stomach: 3 sweet buns for a dollar! I also love eating rippled plain potato chips dipped in hummus. Sounds gross, but not when you care for potatoes as much as I do. Real oatmeal with apples chopped into it is another cheap and hearty treat.
Any last words?
Live long and prosper.