Recently I have been thinking about the inspiration and the good feelings I get from being outside enjoying the natural world. I am also encouraged by research that shows walking in natural surroundings (especially a forest) produces endorphins and reduces the stress hormone cortisol.
And although I don't live near a forest I do live in a neighborhood with many trees which make me happyl
Besides paintings I enjoy taking photographs inspired by my natural surroundings and they often end up in my paintings in one way or another.
What is your creative inspiration? Like and comment below :)
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Redfin about writing an article for their blog called "22 Ways to Bring Texture Into Your Apartment". The editor want me to talk about how to artistically incorporate texture into your home. How much fun is that? So, since my second love after art making is home decorating, I put my artist's thinking cap on and sent them a few ideas. I hope think you will find these ideas as worthwhile and interesting as I do..
Neutral colors, such as a beige or gray sofa, can provide a backdrop for adding texture to an apartment through paintings and pillows or throws made from various materials like velvet, wool, or faux fur. Abstract floral or geometric paintings can add visual texture to a space by incorporating colors, shapes, lines and patterns.
“Go with neutral furniture and get a wow factor with a rug high in visual texture. Also, try an abstract, floral, or geometric painting or pillow for a little pizazz. Repetition of similar natural shapes also creates textures complemented by an earthy wooden sculpture. A soft, nubby throw over your favorite chair provides a soothing texture. And a hammered metal finish catches the light and adds interest to a side table by your favorite easy chair,” says Fiona Phillips Art Studio.
Welcome to my virtual studio tour - just a quick minute to see my space reinvented a bit! This is where art happens! I feel very blessed to have such a beautiful space to work in - and now that I've moved things around - more space to breathe.
I am fascinated right now with underwater images. Not just the images, but the process of getting in the pool with my models and trying desperately to stay submerged while taking photos with my rather temperamental GoPro - or maybe it's just me. But I love being under the water. The figures appear weightless and very real. It is hard to be other than yourself while swimming in a dress or jumping in and climbing out of a pool over and over again. Lovely things happen, interesting things happen, wonderful light and reflections happen - what's not to love?
This video is only the 2nd time I have tried stop action and while it is less than professional it illustrates in quick time how I begin a painting and then, the end result. I decided to call it Goggles, but Bubbles would be a good name too. What do you think? Go to the Water page in my gallery to see more underwater paintings. Here's a sneak peek...
Looking back Just three years ago at this time I was looking forward to my solo exhibit at Dixie State University of Fifty Faces - large portraits of friends, family members, acquaintances and strangers who had agreed to sit for me. This exhibit called "Defacing Stigma" had been shown previously in March 2018 at Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City, and although there wasn't enough room for all 50 of the portraits it was a wonderful experience and I made many new friends there. But now I am reminiscing about the Dixie State show and the memorable experience I had there. Many wonderful thoughts and feelings about mental illness and our desire to eradicate its stigmas were shared with me during that time. And I will never forget walking into the beautiful Sears Art Museum Gallery and seeing all the portraits hung together in that stunning space for the first time. The talents of art director Kathy Cieslewicz brought everything to life in ways I had not imagined. I will always feel grateful that she believed in me enough to show my work and champion our cause of raising awareness for the struggles of the mentally ill to thrive in our society without harmful judgements.
Now I am looking forward to another solo showing of these paintings (also photos and the video above) to be held at the Encinitas California City Gallery. It has been postponed twice due to the restrictions of Covid 19. I am scheduled now for some time in 2022 and I am keeping my fingers crossed that all will be well enough for the exhibit to take place. I promised to upload this video a long time ago and it is finally here. I hope it will touch your heart and help you feel empathy for the models of these portraits who bravely shared their personal experiences with me.
Like everyone else I wasn't prepared for the downs of Covid-19, but I also have been pleasantly surprised at the ups during this pandemic too. So enough of the downs of Covid-19. We all know them because we live them every day. I want to celebrate the little every day happy moments like watching the sunset with my husband, having groceries delivered from Von's during a 14 day self quarantine, not being sick, playing group family games via Zoom. Also there have been some personal successes that have been gratifying to me.
1. I was invited by my gallery in Miami, DAC Concepts to be part of an international virtual gallery exhibit that has just opened. The painting above called Koi Pond will be online for viewing until September 24th along with a group of excellent works by fellow artists. Just follow this link https://publish.exhibbit.com/gallery/388393677/atrium-gallery-15816/. You can also click on the painting which will take you directly to DAC Concepts virtual gallery An Overwhelming Experience.
2. I was approached by Sparks gallery in San Diego about participating in their annual "Mini's" exhibit and my little landscape sold!
3. Before my hand surgery 6 weeks ago I was able to make a start on 3 new paintings. Here is an in-progress image of the painting about Esther a queen from the Old Testament who saved her people because of her courage.
So you might be asking how can there be an upside to this crazy, limiting, anxiety producing time in our lives? Wearing masks, social distancing, self quarantining and being unable to do the things we enjoy are hard for sure. It's difficult for everyone, and more so for the isolated, alone, elderly or those with young children. I even had surgery on my right hand 6 weeks ago making painting impossible, at least for now. But I am fortunate because I love my house and my garden - and I love my husband! So the ups and downs of Covid-19 are only temporary. I'm sure all this will end...sometime soon I hope!
Spiral Jetty Road Trip. Several years ago I was inspired by my son in law Brady who one Sunday afternoon on the spur of the moment jumped in the car with his kids and drove to see the Spiral Jetty. Due to an article I had read many years ago I mistakenly thought there was a lot of hiking involved and possibly rattlesnakes (which by the way the latter of which is true - just ask my daughter Kathryn!) But when I found out you can practically drive there, and more importantly that the lake was at a very low level, it was time for an art pilgrimage. I am lucky that my family love art as much as me so it took no encouraging to pile in the car for a road trip to the northern end of the Great Salt Lake at Rozel Point to visit the site of this iconic earthworks sculpture by Robert Smithson.
Just a bit about Smithson's sculpture before I go on...it is 1500 feet long and is made of black basalt rock, salt crystals, water and sand. Some years when the lake is high it is not even visible unless by boat, but fortunately we were able to see and walk on and around it. Earthworks artists like Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Walter De La Maria and others created sculptures in natural environments, mostly out of the way places. Their vision changed the trajectory and definition of modern sculpture.
I was as impressed as I envisioned I would be as we walked over the ragged black rocks that formed the curving line of the spiral. But what I wasn't prepared for was the stark almost surreal beauty of the the adjoining salt flat and pinkish salt water of the nearby lake front.
It was a perfectly clear day with a blue sky so intense that, if I painted it, no one would believe it was a natural color. The salt sparkled around the edges of salt water pools and in other areas cracked and hard to the point of misery. We explored all over the area and were delighted by the fluffy balls of foam that came from the lake waves and then rolled like tumbleweeds across the salt flat. We found an area that at one time might have been a long wooden dock - the wooden pilings making strident patterns against the soft mud and cloud filled sky.
So yes, the road trip to the Spiral Jetty was everything I hoped for but so much more!
Living near the beach has been a dream of mine for decades and so I have decided to post some paintings of the beach that I did some years ago. I have always been fascinated with the colors, the people, the shadows on the sand, the shapes and sounds of the waves and smell of the ocean. This painting, "Five Umbrellas Too" captures my feelings about lazy days spent enjoying the beach.
I have many memories of my family vacationing at our favorite beach spots: Cardiff by the Sea, Solana Beach, Oceanside and Moonlight. Lots of summer days playing in the warm sand and in the sea. The days were wonderfully sunny and warm especially in July and August. But if we traveled to Southern California in June we had to battle what the locals call June doom. The marine fog rolls in every evening and sometimes doesn't disperse until mid afternoon and only for a few hours, after which the fog comes rolling in again.
You can see more of these beach paintings in my gallery page "Beach", at Saatchiart.com and Artfinder.com. They are all of nice sunny days...but having lived here now through two years of June doom I am beginning to feel a desire to paint some foggy paintings!
I think I am pretty optimistic and friendly but overcoming my fears has always been hard for me. I feel like this has held me back over the years and I wish I were more confident. So, I decided I needed to get out and try to integrate into the art scene here in my new home in CA. I joined the Artist Alliance at the Oceanside Museum of Art and went to their quarterly critique session painting in hand. About 60 people were there and roughly half had work to share for critique. I ended up being the very last one to to brave the critique and I was pretty nervous. But everyone was kind and I received some good and helpful comments. I was able to meet a few people and I hope to get to know them better with time.
I also decided to enter a competition sponsored by the OMA to be held at the Sparks Gallery in San Diego. Happily a piece of mine was accepted and will be exhibited along with some amazing work by fellow artists from the end of April until July 7th. If you are in San Diego you will enjoy the exhibit I'm sure!
After a lengthy project I believe an artist should take some time to play so I have chosen cold wax and oil paint to experiment with. And I am loving the soft buttery consistency, the ability to create transparent and opaque colors, the ability to add layers then scratch into them, scrape away, even sandpaper the heck out of them. Whatever you do it just seems to add more character and more depth to the image.
So far I have tried one figurative piece and one abstract. I was pretty much won over by the consistency when I started blending the wax into the oil paint. I guess I still harken back to my mud pies stage of child hood. I've never got over the wondrous sensation of squishy mud in my hands! Probably never will (hence my incessant desire to plant things in the earth.) I am using Gamblin cold wax that I bought through Dick Blick online. And I purchased a few new tools too; 2 silicone brushes, a couple of silicone scrapers and a new set of palette knives since mine were shot. I dug out an old printmaking brayer as well that is marvelous for moving paint around.
The palette knives are great for applying the oil/wax mixture and the the scrapers and silicone brushes both move paint and remove paint. The process seems to work best when it is both additive and subtractive. The marvelous thing being that as you take a part of the image away there is always a residue or shadow of the lines and colors beneath. The wax creates the most beautiful transparent colors and the process can be enhanced with straight oil paints and R&F oil pigment sticks (which I love!)
I used an old photo I took of my son-in-law Brady as inspiration for the figurative painting. I basically used the gesture and the values but the color was all me. I wanted to use unrealistic color and push the saturation of the color too. I am happy with the result and will try this again soon maybe with a full figure.
The abstract one was inspired by a visit to the salt flats in the northern part of the Great Salt Lake. I planned on starting dark and getting lighter and keeping it fairly monochromatic. Haha! That didn't last long! I worked on it over a couple of days but it just wasn't coming together. Gradually I kept adding more and more color while still trying to keep the value pattern intact. It's interesting how a piece can become something so different than what you had intended in the beginning. What do you think? I'd love it if you let me know by liking and commenting below. Playing with oil paint and cold wax is a definite cure for the winter doldrums!
PS. If you leave a comment you will be entered into a drawing for a free zoie silicone scraper. Comment by February 21 and dm my instagram (fionaphillipsartstudio) with your email so I can let the winner know.
When not in my studio I like to spend time with family, go to nurseries, the beach and farmer's markets, eat really good food and dance in the kitchen. I believe in kindness.