About Virginia Baker Woolf
I was born in Sydney. I have lived, studied and worked for extended periods in Spain and France. After living abroad and completing Language Diplomas at both the Sorbonne and the University of Sevilla, I completed a double degree in Spanish at UNSW. I have worked as a University Lecturer in Spanish for many years and most recently as an Educational Management Consultant and Executive Coach. I currently reside in Sydney with my husband Gordon. My adult children have flown the coop.
I am often asked how I started painting...
I never went to art school. Illness got me into painting. In 2007 I became very ill after the death of my father. His death was the result of a freakish accident. He underwent an emergency craniotomy. My lion of a father lay there helplessly in Intensive Care for five weeks, hooked up to many lines and drains, with a stapled skull. He contracted a chest infection they couldn’t treat. He was brain damaged – we didn’t know what form that damage would take. He survived all of that but he died after he was moved from Intensive Care. It was extremely traumatic and after the funeral I collapsed with pneumonia.
The problem was that I could not get better. I was extremely ill and no-one was able to diagnose the cause of my illness. I was unable to work. I was unable to do much. I was unbelievably frustrated.
A friend suggested that I try a painting class. I thought it would be great if I could do just one thing for a few hours that didn’t drain me and gave me some distraction and pleasure.
During this class I began a piece of work called Constellations. I was pleased with it and I got very positive feedback and compliments on this piece of work. I was off! I was hooked.
What started as an activity to help me manage chronic illness became a whole story of it’s own. My own experience is that, beyond any doubt, art heals.
PS – With great persistence and research I did eventually get proper diagnoses and modalities of treatment – that’s another story.
Washes away from the soul
the dust of every day life.
Art 101 for Virginia
I approach every piece of work with “beginner’s mind” – it doesn’t matter what I do because I can use every mark - planned and accidental. There is no such thing as a mistake. Every mistake is a drop of learning. Every mark is important and affects the story of the other marks. This has proven to become a very interesting, free, layering process which I still use.
When I’m painting everything else takes a back seat. Painting has brought me flow and freedom in a way that nothing else has. I work in acrylic and mixed media, fascinated by the interplay of texture, structure, colour and line. My works are crafted through an intuitive, felt sense of design and structure, spontaneous markings, textured, worn and scratched surfaces and multiple layerings in acrylic paint, charcoal, oil stick and other mixed media.
I am constantly challenging myself and experimenting. I often don’t know what I’m going to paint until I actually paint it. I love to experiment. I usually have a good idea of the colours I might use and I may have some design ideas, but the rest is often unknown. It’s done in the moment. The artist makes her own rules and choices through often complicated journeys.
Painting is a very intuitive process and this process leads the artist to examine the intangible and the hidden and this can even be an unconscious process. The hand and the eye will often create something before the brain catches up. Painting is also a very somatic process. The brush, the paint and random marks lead the way. Mistakes and accidents are celebrated as they often provide an unthought of perspective and certainly provide learning. It is a process of possibility. Each painting is a world of its own, deeply impacted by the smallest mark.
I found I could say things with
that I couldn't say any other way.
- things I had no words for.
Each year I accept a limited number of commissioned projects that are in the style of my existing work.
Many people have trouble finding a painting that is the right size and/or colour for their room. As a result, my commissioned paintings are becoming increasingly popular. To get started on a commissioned painting, send me an e-mail and tell me what you have in mind. I will give you a price based on the complexity and the size of the piece.
If you live in my area, you can also book a free home consultation where I will bring samples and canvas options in order to decide the size and colour that best fits your space. If you need help deciding what size canvas will work best in your space, I can provide a mock-up with different sized canvases. I then take into consideration your personal style, colour preferences, and even style preferences. Each commission becomes a statement not only of my creativity, but also of the buyer’s personality and taste.
There is no obligation to buy a commissioned piece if you don’t like it and I don’t ask for any money up front.