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May Feature: Bella Savedra

Bella Savedra is an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto, ON. While she works in many mediums, she has a preference for painting, ceramics, and photography. Much of her work is inspired by humans’ connection with the earth and capturing the raw emotions that natural landscapes evoke. Her paintings lean towards abstract landscapes and express her emotional state while painting as well as a reverence for the earth. Bella employs texture through palette knives to create a visceral feeling within the viewer. Within the last few years, she has fallen in love with ceramics and enjoys the variety of creation that ceramics offers. She focuses on functional small batch pottery but creates sculptural pieces as well. Her work is representative of her past, her experience in multiple mediums, and her yearning for knowledge. Her current goal is exploration, experimentation, capturing beauty and emotion.

Q: Tell me about what kind of work you are currently making?

"I am currently working on a painting series entitled “Golden Landscapes” in which I use gold leaf and acrylic on canvas to elevate transitory or simple landscapes. I frequently travelled back and forth from Toronto to Guelph while I was in school, and I became entranced by the passing landscape next to the highway. Often, they were farms or unused land but the trees and vast swathes of grass and changing skies kindled great emotion in me. For months I was obsessed with the idea for this painting and capturing the beauty of the land. I thought that the gold leaf would bring a certain distinction to the landscape and impart some of the magic I felt looking out at the countryside. I use palette knives to create texture in my paintings to bring the viewer closer to the land and express emotion.

As for ceramics, I am currently working on a collection of vases, experimenting with form, texture, and colour. While working, I focus on the connection between body and clay; each piece takes on their own organic shape as I hand-build them using the coil method. Each vessel is completely unique and an embodiment of the patience, love, and care that went into making it. "

Q: What is a day like in the studio for you?

"A day in the studio starts with a hot cup of tea, headphones, and a plan. I start by sitting in my studio with a general idea of what I want to make and start by sketching out ideas on Procreate. Then I move on to setting up all my supplies so that once I start working, I can sit for hours at a time and don’t need to be interrupted by getting up. I enjoy listening to music while I work, or I play my favourite shows as background noise. Since I work in so many mediums, I generally go through periods of working in one medium: Weeks of painting shift to months of ceramics. Pottery generally takes a longer time to make between both firings, drying time and glazing, it usually takes up to a month for one batch to be complete. The beauty of working with multiple mediums is that if I ever get tired of working with one practice for too long, I can just switch it up and keep my energy and creativity fresh."

Q: Who are your most prominent influences on your art practice?

"While I have an affinity for abstract expressionists, I’d say that the most prominent influences on my painting would be the impressionist and post-impressionist painters, with a specific devotion to Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s works are based on emotion as seen through is expressive brushwork and his love for the natural world. His use of texture and colour is something that I look at when I’m painting and gives me the ability to be more free within my own work.

For ceramics, I follow so many amazing artists and I am continuously inspired by new styles that it is hard to choose my biggest inspirations. First, I love Cecil Kemperink (@cecilkemperink) who has pushed the limits of what I thought ceramics could do. The movement and rhythm in her ringed sculptures is captivating and beautiful. Another ceramic artist I am inspired by is Abid Javed (@abid.jav) whose sculptures explore biomorphic design. His background in Molecular Biology shows in his work as he combines biological themes with ceramics, creating molecular objects using clay. Finally, another inspirational potter is Celina (@thecreativetraveller) who makes pottery based on nature like the Rockies and Jasper National Park. As I create artwork based on nature, I love seeing how she makes marbled works resemble natural landscapes."

Q: What are your preferred mediums to work with and why?

"As stated previously, I work in multiple mediums with a preference for painting and ceramics. I also work in photography, digital art, drawing, carving, weaving, beading, collage, and anything else I can get my hands on. I love learning new techniques and trying new things as it allows me to grow my practice. I’ve been painting for a very long time and while I work with acrylic, watercolour, and oil, my preference is acrylic paint on canvas. It is easy to work with in a home studio and I find it very forgiving. As well, since I sit for long periods of time at once, the quick drying time is very useful for building up a painting. Painting really allows me to capture my love of nature and express my emotions as I paint.

As well, I love working with clay. I picked it up only a few years ago and it was an immediate obsession. There is so much to learn about ceramics that I never get bored of it; there are so many things to try and techniques to learn that there are artists working with it for decades who still find new surprises within the world of clay. I love that ceramics can be functional and I really enjoy making dishware that is both beautiful art and can be used in everyday life. I also love the sculptural side of ceramics and all the possibilities that clay offers."

Q: What major themes, concepts or methods are rooted in your practice?

"A constant theme in all my art is my love for nature. I feel more alive and at peace in nature than I do anywhere else, and I keep trying to convey this human connection to the natural world within my work. We have a deep connection to the earth and while I try to express the beauty of nature and emotion that landscapes evoke through painting, I think ceramics innately captures this connection. Clay comes from the earth and humans mold it and create something from nothing. The processes of firing and glazing are very human, but there is something magic about molding the earth with your own two hands to create something entirely new. I frequently use blues and greens within my work, and I balance this glaze with unglazed sections to really show off the beauty of the natural clay.

I really enjoy practices where I get to fully use my hands to create; I find being hands-on in my work is very important to me because it creates a connection between my mind, body, and art. When painting I use my fingers to help create texture and blend the paint (I’m a very messy artist!), and with ceramics my entire process is me switching back and forth between my hands and tools.

Overall, my practice right now is about learning new techniques and experimenting as much as I can. While my love for the natural world seeps into the majority of my art, it is the urge to create and to express myself that is the constant in all of my work as an artist."

Q: Where can we find more of your work?

"I showcase the majority of my work on Instagram @bella.savedra where you can see the process of making my work, find out about upcoming sales, and see cute pictures of my cat! I also have a new website, where you can look at a gallery of my paintings and pottery and buy some work for yourself. I will have an upcoming pottery sale in May, so check back in for that!"

NEXT is an extension of our N/A gallery exhibition program. We are looking to extend our reach to artists and create more opportunities through our online platform. Our goal is to promote emerging artists within the community who display dedication and production within their studio-based practice. The interview series will offer both conceptual and visual insight to the artists practice and studio environment.

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