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Studio Secrets

Stella Vine

Describe the things and images that you have around you in your studio and how they influence or inform your work.

All my images; personal photos, torn bits from newspapers and magazines. I'd be a bit lost without all of those, they are my crutch really. Strangely, some of my favourite paintings like 'Snow White in the Forest and 'The Lodge' did not come from an image I held in my hand, but from in my head, so I guess I can make work without them, but I use that pile of stuff all the time. Either I'm searching for hours for something, or I just pull something out of the pile and improvise with it.

Describe your working methods and processes.

I rough in, in burnt umber, a very loose scruffy sketch then I usually start on some of the skin colours if it's a person. The background usually changes colour several times, depending on what's happening in the other colours. The strokes are not as flat as they look on the internet, so if I really mess up, like I need to move the person's head a bit to the left or something, the composition is not right, I often just trash the whole piece, sometimes I later regret it. It's because I paint mainly in acrylic now, I've become so used to it, I find it hard to go back to oil. I work with the fact the paint drys rather than that it stays wet. Unfortunately everything I use is madly expensive; I've gotten used to top quality pre-primed canvas, and Golden paints, which I use by the ton. At the moment I've got this show for Oxford, but I'm broke so I'm painting on cheap canvas, and the graininess of it drives me nuts, so I'll be spending days priming and sanding. The strokes don't flow like they do on the posh canvas, they stick, so I just want to take a knife to the canvas most of the time, or find a fridge to paint on. That smooth surface is where I'm happiest.

Which single item in your studio is most important to your work?


Which artist/s most influence your work and which recent show has been inspirational?

Sophie Von Hellermann, Karen Kilimnik, Willem De Kooning, Picasso, Gainsborough, Balthus and Jackson Pollock

I saw a painting called 'Sir Brooke Boothby 1781', by Joseph Wright of Derby, in 'Portraits Public and Private 1770 - 1830' in Paris, but I think the show is in London at the moment, it is a wonderful piece.

Is your studio a refuge or a place of torture?

I find it hard to get going but once I'm absorbed I'm fine for hours, sometimes days, but getting to that point where I can pick up the brush and do good work can be a bit of a nightmare. In an ideal world there would be no pressure; I could paint without being scared. In an ideal world I'd have a bit more confidence in what I do; I find it very easy to trash everything. Then I have moments of high ego when I think I'm great, and then I come thudding back down to earth, and everything I do I think is terrible. I give myself a really hard time in my head, before I even start.