Thursday, 6 August 2020

Inspired by the Moon: A Series of Summer Paintings part 1

''Rainfall Moon,' acrylic on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, 2020

As summer races by, I've felt incredibly inspired by several different experiences, alternating between abstraction and abstract figurative themes as paint suggested new approaches. One of the reasons I haven't posted for quite a while has been the intensity of my excitement and the momentum of working almost daily. 

The moon has often appeared as a theme over the years. As I love to walk at night, in the UK, Cyprus and other countries such as China, I have always found night to be full of mystery and open to boundless imagination. In Cyprus I often watched the moon as it rose luminous and green on the horizon and turned to pink, orange and finally yellow. Sometimes I've been surprised by a sudden view of the large Harvest moon behind some trees and I wanted to try to convey some of the magic I've felt. There's also something unseen, and a sense of the beyond, in particular beyond this planet, that the moon brings to mind for me. At a time of coronavirus and many global problems, watching the moon reminds me of the vastness of the universe and makes me question the meanings of our existence.

Light and the time of day often feature in my work and the moon theme gives me the chance to play with ideas about colour, calligraphic brush strokes and shapes. Some of the paintings focused on the developing interest in the process of making imagery and different ways to apply paint. Sometimes paint parallels light and the work veers towards abstraction.

The first painting is about the summer rain, of which we had little in the UK. I was thinking about the last warm colours as dusk fades to night and the rain streaming down, obscuring a landscape. It was painted with thin layers and was unplanned, the way I always work.

'Rainfall Moon,' (2) acrylic on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, 2020

This second painting is still in progress. I'm brightening the moon and tweaking a few other areas. I love this size of canvas, (and larger), and this painting is also quite layered with translucent and opaque paint. I layer paint until an image emerges and I feel transported to a new place. 

Here are a few more moon paintings, some more figurative based and some abstract.

'Moon, Mountains and Forest,' acrylic on canvas, 25 x 20 cm 2020

'Moonlit Terrain,' acrylic on canvas, 25 x 20 cm, 2020

'Lavender Moon,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 60 cm, 2019

'Moon Over Brighton,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 23 cm, 2018

And two of the more abstract paintings in which I was thinking of the emotional experience and loving thick paint.

'Moonlit Landscape,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 23 cm, 2019

'Scents of the Moon,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 23 cm, 2020

This last one is about the delightful fragrance of summer which I often associate also with walking along the coast at night or through landscape. It's a fragrance that's quite hard to define but is slightly perfumed, sweet, and uplifting.

I will post more of my moon paintings this week and also some of the new landscape/abstracts I'm working on.

If you would like to see more of my new work, my website is:

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Artists Working in Isolation: A Personal Experience

'Coastal Flooding,' oil on canvas, 30 x 23 cm

As lockdown eases a bit here in the UK, my anxiety has also eased a little though strangely my output of painting has not been affected. If anything, the 3 months of restrictions caused an even greater concentration on my painting and my 2020 album on my website is packed with new work made since March 23rd. The painting above was completed this week and reflects the gradually changing conditions in that I've picked up the threads on a past theme of climate change. Up till this moment I was focused on a series of collage and mixed media works which was largely directed by wanting to escape to new places or were reflections on the new territory we find ourselves in. Now these themes are alternating with painting on canvas again.

Most artists work in isolation much of the time but the main difference has been that we couldn't meet up or visit each other's studios and exhibitions. There have been many online events, discussions, and online exhibitions and we've had to find new ways to connect with our audience.

Materials take much longer to arrive at the moment so while making collage works on card I've been re-working unresolved paintings, some from a few years ago. For this post I'm showing a few of these plus a new painting made for a show in China later this year (which may end up being postponed).

'Garden of Light,' oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm

I've also gone back to working with oil paint again after having spent these 3 months working with ink, acrylic, papers and gesso on card. 

'Paintscape,' oil on board, 37 x 47 cm

Finally, this medium sized painting was painted entirely in acrylic. Last August as a particpant at the 8th Beijing International Art Biennale I was one of 30 artists selected to go out sketching in the landscape near the mountains. It was a 90 minute journey and I worked with ink on paper. This painting is a composite of memories of my month's painting Fellowship at the Great Wall in 2016, 4 trips to China, and reflections on my visits which evolved into waterfalls of colour. The painting was also influenced by the many mixed media works I was creating. I could have chosen any of the viewpoints I sketched though none were close up views of mountains, but as I love mountains, and they symbolise journeys and I remember the long journey to the mountains at the Great Wall, this image grew from those layers of thought.

'Waterfalls of Colour,' acrylic on canvas, 93 x 78 cm

Saturday, 30 May 2020

“UNESCO and MEADOWS artists against COVID-19”. An Online Exhibition, May 29th 2020

To give an idea about this exhibition I'm sharing a quote from the UNESCO website:

UNESCO Beirut Office partnered with MEADOWS (Mediterranean Endeavors Advancing Development Of Widespread Sustainability) NGO to reach out to artists worldwide and invite them to take the challenge to use visual arts as a powerful tool effecting relevant global issues through the intercultural dialogue. The concept created by Lena Kelekian, MEADOWS’  President and Founder, led to initiating the MASK ART creativity under lockdown with the patronage of UNESCO Beirut Office, under the topic of “UNESCO and MEADOWS artists against COVID-19”

250 Artists from 120 countries placed their artwork on a mask template and the result on the website is a stunning and diverse array of beautiful masks. It creates a positive image of mask wearing and I feel it represents taking some control over what is a really hard and tragic time in our existence. Here are some more masks...

Here is another description of the project taken from the UNESCO website which describes it better than I could:

'In these stricken times, while mitigating technical and slow internet problems, difficulties of social distancing and lockdown, communication was established with all the regional & national representatives, mobilizing every volunteer resource to transform the medical masks that instilled fear, such as stark reminders of the imminent danger of infection, into canvasses displaying strong creations of artists and their personal reaction to this pandemic crisis. The responses were highly creative. In some cases, we can find gloomy and morbid expressions of fear of the unknown but mostly they are expressions of hope and desire of a better and different tomorrow. Inside the short three weeks deadline – instead of the needed three months -, UNESCO Beirut and MEADOWS went through the process of selection albeit the language barriers and cultural differences, finding the common denominators of resilience between artists from all over continents.'

And the link - scroll down to see the many artworks:

ART SAVES HUMANITY: My Work Is In Top 100 Artworks Of This International Virtual Exhibition

'Walking Towards a Shared Future,' acrylic and oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm 2018

I submitted 2 paintings to this global online exhibition organised by the SeeMe team, as it says below:

'We asked artists to share their perspective on the human condition...

Art Saves Humanity will be a global virtual exhibition bringing together the SeeMe community, Sotheby's Institute and its global network, Community Access to the Arts, the and artists from all over the world with other corporate sponsors.'

(quoted from their website)

The judges were Brendan Clecko, Christine Kuan, Marine Tanguy, Poppy Simpson, Ariel Adkins, Jerry Saltz and the Sotheby's team.

The theme was to be about hope and reflection during the pandemic.

While I did receive 2 emails informing me of the results of my 2 submissions, I had not during an exceptionally busy week opened them! So when the exhibition opened online on May 21st I went to see which paintings were in the Top 100 selected artists and as I scrolled along I came across my painting (above)! To have made the Top 100 was amazing! There was also a link to my website.

So then I opened the 2 emails. I found that both my paintings had been put in the top 100 but only one is shown. This is the other one.

'A Global Connection,' oil on canvas, 100 x 140 cm

The other wonderful thing to find out was that I'd won a signed copy of the new book by Jerry Saltz called How to be an Artist.  He was one of the judges. I'm really pleased about this!

Most of the time as an artist you work alone and there's very little to guide you through a vast terrain of bumps and unlit territory so it's nice to get some positive feedback.

This is the link to the website:

(Scrolling along to the right or left brings up my art.)

Friday, 29 May 2020

Fiona Stanbury's Interview Featured in Art Habens Magazine, April 2020

'Night Gathering,' (3) acrylic on canvas, 20 x 25 cm

Recently I completed an interview for the international online art magazine, Art Habens. The questions they sent me were really insightful and interesting to answer and caused me much reflection. I ended up with 35 pages of text and images, one of the longest interviews published! I'm planning to print it up as a small catalogue.

This is the Link:

And an image from the opening page of the magazine....

In the last few weeks I've been more busy than ever. Firstly, finishing 2 paintings for an exhibition in China later this year which I was invited to submit work to as a participant of the 8th Beijing International Art Biennale in August 2019. At that time 30 artists were taken into the landscape around Beijing and we made sketches which have been the inspiration for the artwork.

This is one of the paintings I made.

'Waterfalls of Colour,' acrylic on canvas, 85 x 65 cm

Since I last wrote I've been continuing with my Lockdown series which began during the 30 Works 30 Days global art project in April, mentioned previously. This forced me to use new materials as due to the pandemic my delivery of materials was delayed and has generated an ongoing series of mixed media works along with works on canvas. One of the new themes is based on night gatherings or what I have viewed sadly as a lack of night gatherings. The only time I feel a sense of community on the street where I live is when we all go out at 8pm on a Thursday evening to clap the NHS and carers and keyworkers. So the painting I'm posting today is one of my series remembering the life I used to see on the streets at night and the buzz of social interactions. This is one of an ongoing series.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

30 Works 30 Days: End of an Artist Project Followed During Lockdown

'Where My Thoughts Wander,' acrylic, ink, pen, papers and gesso on card, 30 x 20 cm

This global project which had over 1000 artists from 42 countries ended on April 30th. You had to submit an artwork each day during April, and 5 or 6 artists were selected each day to have their works shown on the 12ocollective Instagram pages. The 12ocollective website ended up with over 18,000 artworks and I believe everyone completed this challenge for lockdown.

I had the following painting, made on DAY 21, displayed on the 12ocollective Instagram post for that day. I was really pleased to be chosen in amongst so many entries each day! This little painting was painted as a longing for street gatherings at night. My neighbourhood seems so quiet these days and the only time I become aware of any kind of community is when everyone comes out on a Thursday evening at 8pm to clap for the NHS, carers and keyworkers.

'Night Gathering,' acrylic and ink on card, 30 x 20 cm

As I mentioned in a previous post, my art materials were delayed in arriving and I was forced to use cardboard and card to make my paintings and collages. It turned out to be a positive restriction because it opened up a different way of working and seeing painting elements. I made a very large series of collages, in fact the mixed media works took over towards the end of the challenge. For this short post I'm including a few of the collages. I found working with mixed materials beneficial because limitations always force you to find new ways to assemble an image, and in particular I was thinking about edges, transitions between colours, brush strokes and patterns. This will now feed back into the large paintings on canvas.

'Mountain Route,' (3) acrylic, ink, gesso, papers on card, 30 x 20 cm

'Entering a New Land,' acrylic, rice paper, ink and gesso on card, 30 x 20 cm

''Wishing to Travel Far,' acrylic, rice paper, ink and gesso on card, 30 x 20 cm
More works will follow later this week or they can be seen on my artist website, the link is at the top right side of the blog page.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

30 works 30 days: A Painting Every Day During April: Hope

'Landscape Reverie,' ink, acrylic and gesso on cardboard, 42 x 24 cm

In my previous post I mentioned lethargy. I have noticed that during this time of coronavirus it seems quite common and manifests itself in many ways. I have friends who simply can't paint at this time. There's no right or wrong way to deal with the deadly situation and constantly worsening news, and personally I find distraction in trying to extend my art practice each day. It helps me feel connected with the world by exploring my inner world, and colour always uplifts me. There may be external restrictions but my inner landscapes run free.

I'm posting a few of the recent paintings made this last week and which have been loaded to the thirty works website. I don't want to slacken because if you miss a day you are out! I'm not following the briefs, I'm using the challenge to create ideas for new work which I will start as soon as my new materials come though I don't know when they will be delivered. However, there is something to be gained by working on unusual materials such as cardboard. They make you re-think your process and of course working speedily brings its own insights whether they are recognising new territory or falling short of one's intention.

'Spring Marching Across Winter,' ink, gesso and acrylic on cardboard, 42 x 24 cm

These 3 on cardboard are suggesting ways I could work with oil paint on canvas. I'm quite excited because through doing this project I've cut some corners and found several new forms and ways of applying paint. 

'Spring Marching Across Winter' was inspired by my daily walks when I noticed the greys, browns and warm neutral colours of winter being gradually invaded by fresh, vibrant greens and the luscious colours of flowers. 'Invasion' is about the way that the structures and meanings we hold as permanent in our lives can be turned upside down in a moment. I liked the immediacy of these 3 paintings but may layer oil paint on future canvases while trying to keep to the spirit of these mixed media works.

'Invasion,' gesso, ink and acrylic on cardboard, 42 x 24 cm

My favourite is the first one because I feel it is more complete though the other 2 have prompts that can be extended when I work on canvas. It's such a good project because it generates energy and a sense of a positive link with the future. Working gives me a more balanced way to think about the current situation and gives me hope.