Happy Feature Friday!
This week we’re featuring artist Sian Storey! Her creative journey is so exciting to follow and she has gained the attention of some major media outlets. We admire the fact that she is always seeking new experiences and ways to grow in her work. It reminds us of the Julia Child’s quote which says, “Find something you’re passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it.” It’s evident that Sian is living that out every day.
: Hello! I’m an artist and art teacher in Hampshire, England. Painting is my passion, and I have a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art. As you’ll discover throughout this interview, I’m a versatile and hungry artist, always looking for fresh ways to evolve my art, and interesting new projects to be involved in.
How did I get started? Let’s see… my earliest art memory is painting my Grandad’s gnomes in his garden back in the 1980’s. My Nan still has them 25 years on. So art has always been a big part of my life and was massively encouraged by my friends and family. It’s what I love, and something I will always do.
: I work from found images, and am particularly drawn to colour, pattern and beautiful pictures. I keep scrapbooks of images that I have collected and reference them in my paintings. I also love to travel, and this feeds into my work. Last summer I visited Japan, and have been referencing it in a lot of my work ever since.
The people-based images I choose are often black and white allowing me to explore my own colour schemes. I like the image to feel emotionally charged, like the person depicted has a story to tell. Sometimes it’s my story, or just the way I’m feeling.
I use birds in my work as they are also associated with literature and narrative, and they have many cultural references. I love creating movement in my bird paintings choosing colour to evoke mood, and texture to convey beauty.
And sometimes, I combine both birds and people.
: I love getting involved in public sculpture trails, where big fibre glass sculptures are painted by artists, and then placed around a city for a few weeks. They’re then all auctioned off for charity.
Last year I painted a London Bus sculpture for Transport for London, inspired by the Swinging 60’s and Carnaby Street. What I loved about this project was that, from being painted in my own living room (I literally lived with this bus over a number of weeks,) it ended up being exhibited at some of London’s most famous landmarks, including Trafalgar Square and the Olympic Park. So it was quite a journey for my little bus. Very proud.
: Yes, last year seemed to be full of ‘pinch myself’ moments, with my work popping up in newspapers, websites, and even on the TV. It’s one of the benefits of getting involved in public art exhibitions – they can attract a lot of welcome attention.
Last year alone, my work appeared on the BBC website, and also The Telegraph and Guardian websites – both national newspapers over here. Time Out shared one of my ‘making of’ videos too, on their blog.
But the one I’m most proud of was being interviewed by the Independent on Sunday newspaper about the Ibis Sleep Art exhibition in London. This was an innovative exhibition, which involved sleeping in a hotel, then waking up and creating some art based on my sleep. I received a lot of exposure off the back of this exhibition, and being featured in a national Sunday newspaper for my art was something I never dreamed would happen. As you can imagine, I bought 5 copies!
: Most exciting? In 2013 for a few chilly days in November, my painting ‘The Myth’ was projected onto buildings around London. This was as part of an exhibition to celebrate the launch of Daniel Radcliffe’s movie ‘Kill Your Darlings.’ I got to meet Daniel beforehand, and had a chat about my art, which was rather surreal. I thrust a business card into his hand, but he never called!
It was just a lightbulb moment a couple of years ago. I occasionally paint iconic musicians, and just made the connection. Vinyls look awesome on a wall, so why not go a step further and turn them into works of art.
: Right now, I’m exhibiting in a pop up gallery in Basingstoke, Hampshire. We’re a collective of local artists who have been given the opportunity to exhibit our work in the middle of a major shopping mall, alongside the Starbucks and Apple Stores of the world. We’ve got that independent spirit, and we’re so excited to be placing our art in an environment where people aren’t expecting to see it.
I’ve also got another project on the go at the moment – it’s slightly unusual, so I’ll do my best to explain it.. I’m painting two giant rugby balls for a new public sculpture trail. They’re called Scrumptys, and they’re in celebration of the Rugby World Cup 2015, which is being held in England later this year. Once finished, my two Scrumptys will hit the streets of Gloucester, a host city.
Looking ahead, I’d love to have a solo exhibition in London in the next year or two, so I’ve been spending time working on a new collection of paintings. No solid plans for a show yet, but watch this space.
: I love painting in layers. I start a piece with very little drawing, just enough to make out a basic shape. I then build up texture and tone with a water soluble crayon and dilute the marks with water. This creates large pools of colour, and fluid drips in my work. I then continue working in layers of spray paint and acrylic; painting and then wiping, before adding the details.
I love the palette of blue and turquoise as they remind me of the sea in West Sussex where I grew up.
Overall colour schemes are fairly intuitive and not always planned. Colour can make or break a painting, hence why I choose to work in layers. Quite often I will obscure a section of a canvas if the colour is not quite right, and go again!
As for the colours not being true to life… well reality can be boring can’t it!? For me, painting is about human expression and storytelling.
: I’m a restless creative and intensely curious. In fact I think I’m addicted to the creative flow, and the thrill of starting with a blank canvas and ending up with a new creation. I can tune out the whole world when I’m working, so painting is my escapism.
: It’s a cliché to say “keep working at it,” but it’s really true. I graduated from Uni 10 years ago, but I’ve never stopped learning, discovering and evolving my art. When you think you’ve found ‘your style,’ push it in new directions. For me, the best way to do this is to immerse yourself in other art. I love hunting out those tiny tucked-away art galleries – especially when I’m travelling overseas – and soaking up fresh inspiration.
Of course, that’s the fun bit… the reality is, you’ve just got to work very very hard! Put in the hours, and you’ll reap what you sow.
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