Today, I’m excited to announce something a little different in partnership with artist Fiona Chandler. Each day for 30 days, she filmed 15 seconds of the creation of an original painting and now you’ll be able to watch it unfold, day by day, over on our Instagram (starting tomorrow, Tuesday). Follow with the hashtag #fionachandlerartin30
Fiona proves that it’s never too late to follow your dreams to do what you really love, and that the backing of a supportive husband goes a long way (something I’m lucky enough to know myself!).
After being a graphic designer for years and talking about returning to painting, Fiona was turning 40 when her husband Nick asked: “When? When will you return?” He pushed her to apply for a residency which she was awarded. “I had six months. Six months to turn it around and make larger works that I actually showed. That room looked so daunting on that first day,” Fiona says. “This led to a group exhibition which was successful, then my residency was extended; another show. Then I was asked to be a part of Temple & Webster’s art market. Another show and I was on my way.”
She now pushes herself to take part in as many shows as possible while people continue to commission her and pop by her studio to look at and buy pieces. Fiona has a show coming up in Orange in October and is part of a group show at Koskela at the end of the year. As if she wasn’t busy enough, she started an artists in residence program at her local school. “I create, talk and teach art daily and it is wonderful. I work hard to make opportunities as it would be far easier for me to paint away all day by myself – but I want to be doing this forever and for that, it needs to be sustainable. So I have to work at it.”
Fiona’s keen to dispel a lot of the myths around art and being an artist. At the end of the day, it’s easy to make assumptions if you’ve not been exposed to that world. “Some people think that you paint, a gallery likes it and runs a show for you. It’s never that simple. Art is a business like any other. Many artist spaces are run by artists so a lot of time effort and money is invested, even in small shows. Other misconceptions are that you need to know a lot about art to enjoy it, that it will cost a fortune and that all original art pieces are out of reach. Galleries aren’t only interested in buyers. People in the art world love art, it is inspiring and they like to talk about it, hear your opinions and ideas. It is a two-way conversation and the people in art stores are usually artists too.”
She wanted to share this project with you, our readers, for a few reasons: “When teaching or exhibiting, people often ask about working full-time as an artist. There is a romantic notion of the muse and inspiration. I love being in my studio and do feel lucky to have a job I enjoy, but art doesn’t just happen. Every piece is not for showing. It is often an isolated pursuit. It is putting in the hours even when you are not yet happy with result. Turning up. Making marks every day.
“I wanted to show the realistic view of the creation of a work. Non-styled, not professionally shot. You can hear all weather and conditions. Artworks are often made for an exhibition or specific location. These are deadlines of sorts. There is a terror to putting yourself and your work out there that needs to be surmounted each week. To engage with a viewer either in a gallery or a studio visit requires a courage I had no idea about. I would like people to feel engaged with the piece, feel more comfortable to approach artists with questions and requests, more comfortable in a gallery. Interior designers often work with specific artists, dropping in regularly and requesting pieces of a certain size. Artists like to sell work. In fact, their livelihood depends upon it.”
What Fiona really hopes is that you’ll feel engaged with art and more confident to walk into a gallery or show and ask questions. “Ask an artist about their work or walk into an art store and have a go. I hope the gallery where this is shown has lots of people pop by to look. People who have never visited. I am hoping people will sign up to a gallery newsletter and attend an opening . A glass of wine, beautiful work — what’s not to enjoy?”
At the end of the 30 days of sharing the creation of the artwork, we’ll be giving you the opportunity to go and view it and perhaps even to purchase it. Stay tuned over on Instagram from tomorrow! Don’t forget the hashtag: fionachandlerartin30