I’m a serial scroller, and when I make that laborious commute, I trawl through Instagram like mad. Ignore the fact that I drive to work; when you spend hours a day at a red light, the paint-stained finger of the #artoftheday feed surely beckons*.
*Don’t Insta and drive folks; it’s one of the many reasons I’m going to hell in a handbag
It’s a busy feed, and new artworks are uploaded every minute. Most of it is, admittedly, crap; but it’s worth sifting through for the real gems that crop up from time to time. One such gem presented itself to me somewhere along Embankment a few weeks ago, so I tracked down the artist, Sian Storey, to see more of her pieces and find out where her Japanese aesthetic comes from.
Hi! I came across your work on Instagram – it’s so eye-catchingly bright and elegant. I’d love to know a bit about your background as an artist?
Thank you! I’m an artist and art teacher in Hampshire, England. In 2005 I graduated with First Class Honours degree in Fine Art from Southampton Solent University. Ten years on, I’m still painting nearly every day. It’s my passion and my escapism.
I grew up by the sea, I love the ocean, so blue is a colour that features heavily in my work. I mix a lot of my own colours, and deliberately use deep violets instead of blacks. This keeps my palette vibrant.
How has your style evolved?
In terms of themes, I have always been interested in painting women, birds, and beautiful creatures. However, I’m a restless creative, and constantly exploring new techniques. So whilst my themes may stay the same, my style evolves year-on- year.
The joy of painting, for me, comes from the moments of experimentation and discovery. A decade ago, I may have stuck to oils and acrylics, but nowadays, nothing is off limits for me, and my work is often a mix of materials – from spray paint and acrylics, to collage and varnish.
I immerse myself in art and exhibitions, and usually find myself staring curiously at a painting to see how it was made. I use this to help evolve and improve my techniques. I think this is a natural part of being a creative person… you’re a sponge, soaking up inspiration, whether you realise it or not!
I was first drawn in by your beautiful birds; they strike me as a modern Japanese aesthetic. Do you have any Asian influence in your work?
I’ve had an obsession with Japan since childhood. It’s such a visually rich country. Last year I was lucky enough to travel there, and it’s been feeding into my work ever since; the colours, the beauty, the serenity, the nature.
While I was there, I collected a plethora of images, tickets, flyers, and of course took thousands of photos. I’ve been using these directly in my work by tearing and collaging, but also exploring the vibrant colour schemes in Japanese design.
The Japonism movement will always inspire me. I love the embellished paintings of this period where a female figure is swamped in pattern and colour, as seen in the Odalisque paintings of Matisse or any painting by Klimt.
I’m dying to get my hands on a print or painting of yours! What kind of things will you be selling in your new online shop?
Thanks! Hopefully you won’t be waiting too much longer; I hope to launch it in Autumn 2015. I’ll be selling originals and prints, and further ahead, products. For now though, you can send me an email if you’re interested in buying a piece.
Do you have any new exhibitions coming up?
Right now, I have work in Gloucester as part of a public sculpture trail, called ‘Scrumpty.’ I painted two Scrumpty’s – basically a giant rugby ball – as part of the Rugby World Cup celebrations, as Gloucester is a host city.
I am also involved 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 centre. 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.
And coming soon, I’ll be exhibiting in a group show at The Jam Factory, Oxford, from December.
Also, I work as a content manager for a couple of fine art brands by day and I’m always interested to know what media artists use!
I use a range of materials and brands. I like the richness of colour of Winsor and Newton watercolours. They are great for travelling and they last well too. One of my favourite tools is Caran d’Ache water-soluble paint sticks. The colours do not lose their intensity once diluted and this is a wonderful way to start and then build up layers in a painting.
I use a range of branded acrylics, as I am very particular about colour. Daler and Rowney seem to offer the best blues, Process Cyan being one of my favourites. Winsor and Newton Galleria offer the best crimson and pale colours such as Pale Violet, Pale Olive and Cerulean Blue. I also like a solid Dulux emulsion for a background too!
I use Liquitex, Molotow and Montana Gold spray paint – a range of brands for a range of colours. And finally Daler and Rowney acrylic ink in beautiful blues.
Who’s your favourite artist alive and working today?
Marlene Dumas is my art hero. I love her watery evocative portraits. Her work is confrontational, not traditionally pretty. Most inspiring though, is that you can tell Dumas works quickly, thanks to the imperfections, the spillages, the visible brushstrokes. It’s brave to step away from a painting when it looks undone, and it’s a technique I’ve been exploring in my most recent series of women paintings. For me, it’s the imperfections that keep art interesting.
Keep up with Sian Storey on her website, Twitter and Facebook: