Introducing our newest artist to the Cleonie collection... Wendy BIlls. A figurative artist based in North Avoca, only a few streets from the Cleonie HQ.
With each of her pieces, she works to create a layered masterpiece. Each colour and layer is like a puzzle that completes the piece.
Wendy is a dear friend of mine, a mentor in so many ways both creatively and in life. I find her work representative of a series of stories that each figure tells, they have a past, they have secrets and she gets to know them through her creations.
I was always drawn to the floral additions to her pieces, which is why I asked her to collaborate with me on this new lily print. If you look closely you can see the detail in each flower, each bee. To me it still tells a story, of beauty, of new life and of the fragility of the world.
Wendy has been a Finalist in the 2013 and 2011 Portia Geach Memorial Art Prize, a multiple Finalist in the Gosford Art Prize, and has held many successful solo and group exhibitions.
I asked Wendy a few questions for us to get to know her and her work..
Use three words to describe your art?
Figurative, Surreal, Conceptual
Where do you find your inspiration from when you paint?
I am inspired to paint the way that people ‘disguise’ themselves with adornments such as tattoos ,makeup, jewellery , headpieces, dress etc. This is the image they choose to present to the world. My figures often contain tension between the artificial and natural.
What was it that inspired you to dive into the art world? Are you trained?
I took up painting after a horse riding accident.Riding was my passion but art soon took over as it suits my creative bent and introversion. I trained at Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney for four years. This gave me observation skills and technique.
When you are painting, what is the feeling that takes over.. a sense of calm?
I do have a great sense of calm when I paint and immerse myself in another world.
You have had some wonderful achievements in your career, do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
My advice to aspiring artists would be to study first and acquire technique then use this to express yourself with your own style. I think sketching ideas is important. I think working from life (not copying photos) is important. Working with a group can be good discipline and good for exhibiting. However, time alone in your own space is priceless for your own development.
What is your favourite piece that you have painted?
My favourite piece is ‘Contrivance’, my most recent major work.The ornate and bizarre figures relate to each other but they don’t actually exist.
What is next for your art, do you have more ideas brewing?
I always have ideas brewing. I am currently making a statement piece on Covid-19 with artificial figures. I want it to be about the threat of this virus to our very comfortable and superficial lifestyles. There is the threat of losing everything. Values can be reassessed.
As a figurative artist, what is your process to create your pieces? How long can this take?
In my painting process I sketch dozens of ideas before selecting one that needs an audience. I set up artificial situations with mannequins in my studio. I engage with pinning adornments on these relating to what I want to say in paint. This process may take a day or two weeks. I always work from life with studio lighting. Figures may be a complex structure of fabrics, flowers feathers etc.Each painting may take a couple of months to complete.
When you are painting, do you listen to music? What sort?
I always listen to classical music when I paint as this helps my flow. Vivaldi is my favourite.