In this edition of Spotlight, we are joined by the beautiful and talented Stella Dunkley, a Dorset-based landscape artist who after experimenting with different subjects in her artwork, has finally found her ideal subject… And she only needs to look out of the window to begin to experience it. In leading up to perfecting her incredible talents, Stella also worked creatively in other fields, such as with photography and food. We sat down with Stella to find out how she came to settle on the subject that suits her skills best…
1) When did you first realise that you were meant to be a painter? Can
you tell us a little about the road to that decision?
It’s always been in my mind that I wanted to be a painter, previous jobs were chef and before that assistant photographer, I always had jobs that involved some sort of creativity, I finally took the plunge after moving to Dorset, I started to experiment with different subjects and mediums and finding that my work started to sell immediately was wonderful it helped give me the confidence to continue, I spent the next few years working hard learning with each completed painting and developing my working practices and style.
2) A lot of your work highlights the brilliant interplay that light and shadow can produce. Why does light inspire you?
I’m fascinated with the effect that light has on the landscape, particularly near the coast, every minute the light can change effecting the colours and mood, just before a storm the clouds break for a brief moment creating a cascade of light over the sea, or very early in the morning you get a fresh clear light, when it’s misty I go along to Mudeford quay where the boats with their reflections are just barely visible in the grey/ blue light, light varies so much from place to place, this profession gives you a great excuse to travel and take in the atmosphere and mood of a place.
3) Why did you choose your current location as a base, and what does it
offer to the working artist?
I live in the beautiful area of Dorset near the river, sea and New Forest, it has had a profound effect on my art and the subject matter that I am best known for, if I reach a dead end with a painting I can go for a walk by the sea with our dogs, clear the head and come back to my studio with the solutions on how to finish.
4) How do you think success can be defined artistically?
I get a feeling of success when I look back at previous work and can see that I’m improving and developing as an artist, you never stop learning, I’m my own worst critic, It’s a great feeling to be able to capture onto canvas the essence of a scene the way you see it in your minds eye, you put yourself into the work so when you get good feedback from buyers or other artists it’s so rewarding
5) Tell us about ‘Red Sky’… What steps did you take to so adeptly capture this scene?
Thank you, I wanted to capture this sunset reflected on the water in an Impressionistic way without detailing the river too much, to focus the viewers attention on the strong colour which helps to create the mood and atmosphere of a summers evening, I used some photos of rivers from my collection I only needed to get the basic shapes of the sky and river, I started by using a canvas that had previously been washed with an orange/red colour, then blocking in the main shapes and colours leaving each layer of paint to dry before adding the detail and finishing with several glazes of crimson and reds
6) How would you describe your following in your home town? Could you tell us what a typical buyer might be like? (For example, have they heard of your work prior to visiting your gallery?)
I’m getting known locally for my seascapes inspired by local scenes, I get a lot of repeat buyers and referrals from buyers around the world, many say they’ve seen work in exhibitions and have searched my name to find my website.
7) Has there ever been a difficult period for your through your painting
career? How did you get through it?
Not really everything has gone fairly smoothly (touch wood!) I’ve had a few of the usual rejection letters from exhibitions which is disappointing but it spurs you on to improve so that can’t be a bad thing..
8) How do you keep yourself motivated?
I’ve been lucky I’ve been doing commissions back to back for the past couple of years so I’m always doing something new which helps to keep me motivated and moving forward, I get asked to do a wide variety of subjects which are interesting and challenging. I also travel – new places always motivate me, changing subject or medium keeps my work fresh, you start on a different track and it fuels your creativity which leads to more ideas, it seems the more you experiment and enjoy it the more ideas develop and evolve.
We would like to thank Stella for her thoughtful and inspiring answers. I’m sure all of our artists will feel great appreciation for her ideas on staying motivated and working logically through what to any artists is a very emotional process. We wish you the best of luck Stella for your work in 2008!