Image: detail of Liz Hauck, Anywhere and Everywhere © The Artist

Whether painted from a bird's eye view or looking into the distance, Liz Hauck's paintings emerge from her imagination, calling upon an internal landscape of memories and reflections. The works evolve as past thoughts, experiences and feelings come together.

You can view her paintings in the Liz Hauck: Anywhere and Everywhere exhibition, from 2 July - 14 July, in the Art Fund Prize Gallery.

Exhibition view from 'Anywhere and Everywhere', on display in AFPG

Your artist statement talks about 'painting in an abstract expressive way'. Can you expand a bit on this?

Painting expressively is painting from 'inside out'. I don’t try to represent what I see literally, rather I paint trusting my memory and allowing feelings and reflections to emerge in the work. I avoid having an image in my head of what the finished painting should look like. I just allow it to develop one step at a time. Every painting is different and inherently abstract.

Nevertheless, observation is very important to my art practice. My start points are mostly something I have seen in the countryside near me or on trips abroad. My camera is my memory prompt for composition and colour ideas, but I also sketch and comment on what I have seen.

You often attribute a great deal of improvisation to your process, so we’re wondering how it is you approach this creatively and how does it differ from a more traditional painting method?

The traditional approach to oil painting is to start with thinned down washes of colour, blocking in the shapes, outlining the light, dark and mid tones and then steadily building up the image with thicker and thicker paint.

My process is very different. I start with a layer of acrylic colour, often also a layer of collage as a textured base. I will have chosen a colour palette and mixed my paint in advance so that I don’t have to break the flow of painting. Then I work directly with quite thick paint using wide brushes and palette knives. I like this way of painting to a jazz player improvising around a theme, in my case playing with paint colour and texture around an idea.

Views from Liz's painting studio in Devon

Similarly, when is it that you consider a work to be complete and how do you know you’ve reached that stage?

After the first stage of free painting I leave the work to dry. Most paintings involve several finishing stages, progressively building up the image. As I work, the painting develops 'a life of its own' and its meaning evolves. It is hard to explain when I know that I’m happy with the work. As a painting gets closer to being finished every change made affects the balance of the whole image. There is always the temptation to carry on, but I have learned to trust my intuition and I stop when it feels right.

Here at The Lightbox we’re very keen on the idea that art makes you feel good. From your experience as a painter, do you believe there’s a link between art and wellbeing?

Absolutely! After I retired, having sold my business, I went to Wimbledon Art School to do a Fine Art degree. I became ill with chronic fatigue and severe allergies. I had exhausted myself, working too hard for too long and should have taken time to rest before starting the degree. I was housebound for three years, but my isolation gave me time to experiment and develop my art. At the same time, I am sure that painting and drawing was key to my recovery. Drawing now forms a key part of my art practice. Losing myself in it is meditative, helping me to stay well whilst developing my skills further.

Last but not least, we know you donate the proceeds from the sale of your paintings to charity. Can you tell us a bit about the charities your currently work with and why giving back is so important to you?

Education and community are the main drivers to the charities I choose. I am grateful for the opportunities that a good education has given me. Painting to raise funds for charities I believe in is both motivating and enriching. I support the art programme at Tujatane Charitable Trust School in Zambia. I visit to teach art to the children, and have seen, first hand, the difference that access to education provides. We are now building an Art Centre for everyone in the community. The Lightbox brings world class art to Surrey and also echoes this philosophy of art education and using art to enable community charities.

Liz Hauck with a group of children at Tongabezi Trust School in Zambia

Liz Hauck: Anywhere and Everywhere is open until 14 July. All artworks in the exhibition are available for purchase. Proceeds go towards supporting the new Art Centre for Tujatane and The Lightbox Art and Wellbeing programme.

Would you like to exhibit your work at The Lightbox? Get in touch to hire the Art Fund Prize Gallery.