Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Artist of the Week - DAWN STACEY


My images are inspired by the landscape evolved from walks around shores and harbours or my local nature reserve; where I sketch, photograph and collect objects. Recent Still life paintings have helped to convey a more decorative quality to my work, final paintings of either subject are intended to capture an essence or mood of a particular subject.

I studied Textile Design at Derbyshire Art College and went on to do an MA at Brighton University in Illustration and have since exhibited widely including The Royal College of Art, Affordable Art Fair, Wills Art Warehouse, Brighton Art Fair, Cry of the Gulls and Flowers Galleries.

Favourite Living Artist?
I am constantly inspired by contemporary artists. For example I love Mary Feddon’s still life paintings, her decorative use of colour and texture has such a sense of simplicity.

Favourite Historical Artist?
I also refer back to artists from the past. One of my favourite artists is John Piper, particularly his collages from the 1930’s. I saw an exhibition of his pieces from this period at The Dulwich Picture Gallery some time ago, I found his use of newspaper, music sheets or numbers cut out into shapes of houses, boats or lighthouses enlightening, his painted details giving an interesting slant to the final work. Some time later I discovered a brilliant book at The Tate Modern, ‘John Piper in the 1930’s’ which has provided a useful source of inspiration. Piper’s works are built up inlayers and this is the way that I work too’; starting with a base and then adding and not necessarily hiding the work on the additions.

What place in the world has inspired you?
A number of places have inspired my work from the coastal towns of Newhaven and Hastings to Cornwall. One subject that I regularly return to is the Lewes Railway Lands, a local nature reserve where I walk my dogs each day. The seasonal changes to the surrounding landscape can be hugely inspiring from blossom in spring to blackberries in late summer, the birds, their feathers, shells or pebbles provide a rich source of inspiration. My recent use of collage has helped to push my paintings in a new direction, developing a new language by building layers and textures and discovering those lovely, happy accidents.

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased?
Over the years I have bought many pieces of art and don’t regret any of them! I once bought a Harold Mockford painting, I’d been looking for a while and saw this painting of glowing trees in an autumnal landscape and had to have it. The painting is now hung in my living room and I never tire of it, his paintings have also become highly sought after. I would also like to buy a painting by Peter Messer.

Last Best Read?
I’ve just returned from a very wet two weeks holiday in Cornwall, the easy to read and uplifting book, ‘East of the Sun’ by Julia Gregson kept me going. Once I started I found it very difficult to put down, it’s a tale of three women who travel to India and the fun they have partying on the boat and over-drinking crème de menthe. Each of them has a reason for leaving home and face different challenges they need to overcome in India, particularly Viva whose personal journey kept me gripped until the very end.

How do you set about starting a new project?
When I start a new body of work I visit the area that I’m interested in with my sketch book and digital camera and come back to my studio with lots of information to work from. My paintings start by using colour, layers and textures using a rough idea from a sketch and then I prefer the painting to take me on a journey and evolve. I regularly refer to reference books for information and imagery on plants, trees, birds, boats or shells that helps to bring the painting together. The initial collection of paintings can often be quite a struggle trying to push the painting further in a new and exciting direction but when it does its amazing.

Where and what is your studio?
I work full time in my studio that looks out over my garden, having a separate space solely to develop my work is important so that I can feel free to splash and splatter paint around without fear of making a mess. I have previously been a member of group studio’s where I enjoyed the company of other artists but this can be a distraction to getting on with lots of painting. I now meet up with other artists during the week to share ideas and discuss forthcoming exhibitions and attend a life drawing class where I work in a completely different way that can be really therapeutic.

Favourite Website?
I’ve recently joined The Tate and like to check out their website to see what exhibitions are forthcoming and led me to visit The Twombly Show, I found his mark making really inspiring and have booked the Twombly talk, its really important as an artist to keep up to date with other artists and their inspiration.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
I start my working day quite early as I have to get up early to take my daughter to school and take the dogs for a walk, I usually get back home by 9am when I check my emails and then get painting in my studio for the rest of the day. My painting day sometimes finishes when I take the dogs out again but if I’ve got a deadline with a gallery I can often be working on a regular basis to late into the evening, especially when I’m painting for the art fairs.

Guilty secret?
I wear a (not) very attractive ski suit to paint in as I was regularly getting paint on my clothes and was cold in the winter months so this was a perfect solution and bargain at about £8 from a charity shop.


Claire Fearon said...

Dawn your work just gets better and better. I love the new paintings here and I still love the one I own of yours.

Can't wait to see it in the flesh

Claire (Fearon)

Marcel said...

My dear Artist of the week,
I really loved your paintings and your explanation about how you work and how you get ideas.
Tell me when is your next exhibition in Paris or London (at The Tate Modern Museum).

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn

I really love your work and I'd be interested in featuring it on my website Brighton POD.

Take a look and see what you think