Flora & Fauna

A SOLO EXHIBITION BY PENELOPE BOYD

FEBRUARY 28th – MARCH 26th 2024

A SOLO EXHIBITION BY PENELOPE BOYD

Penelope Boyd’s art offers a window into a world where nature intertwines with imagination, creating dreamlike compositions that captivate the viewer. As Penelope Boyd prepares for her second solo exhibition with Gallery Alchemy titled Flora & Fauna, she offers insights into her creative process, her transition to full-time artist, and her profound connection with the natural world.

AN INTIMATE INTERVIEW WITH PENELOPE BOYD

EMBRACING OPENESS IN ART

GA: Your online presence reflect a candid view of how your life influences your artistic subjects. Could you share more about your experience with this openness?

PB: I am quite open about my creative journey, and I’ve found that if it informs my artistic life (such as travel, nature, gardens, animals) I will share something, particularly if I can take a cute photo! I really enjoy connecting with people who connect with my work, as well as other artists and creative people. Plus I work in isolation, so it does help to prevent me from becoming a hermit. I tend not to delve too deeply into my personal life as I’m protective of my children’s (and my own) privacy, and I avoid anything that might be too controversial as I just don’t have the time or the inclination to argue with strangers.

CREATIVE PROCESS, FROM NATURE TO CANVAS

GA: Your signature masked girls are a unique and captivating aspect of your art. Can you walk us through your creative process, from gathering inspiration to translating it into your distinct style?

PB: Each new painting is an opportunity to create a new world, so that begins in nature. I find my best ideas come on my long morning walks through our local reserve. The big skies and clouds, the animals and abundant bird life, all set amongst the backdrop of the Brindabella mountains. That sense of being alone in nature, in another world, is really what I’m tapping into every time I go into the studio. The compositions come together quite quickly, though only because I spend a great deal of time thinking about and looking at art and fashion from the 17th-19th century, filing things away in a vast, highly organised group of Pinterest boards (I’m not sure where I’d be without it). I usually begin with a few reference photos (I’m lucky to have a daughter and niece as well as a few other friends’ children who are willing to pose for me) and a quick sketch to get the subject as well as any other important elements in place, though I keep the setting pretty loose till I have a better sense of the painting. I create a detailed grisaille in acrylic before going in with water mixable oils. I transitioned to water mixables because I work in layers and really don’t want to be exposed to harsh solvents needed for washes in traditional oils, particularly as I have a home studio. By ensuring my underpainting has as much detail as possible I can work through the painting quite strategically, avoiding any major mistakes that are harder to rectify in oils. While I love the idea of a more whimsical way of working, the reality of these highly detailed works is that it takes a very focused, careful approach.

TRANSITIONING TO FULL-TIME AS AN ARTIST

GA: Congratulations on your transition to full-time artist in 2023! How has this shift impacted
your relationship with your art and creative process?

PB: Thank you! I was really fortunate that my previous day job allowed me to work part-time, flexible hours, so I was able to transition gradually to full-time artist, yet I was still surprised how much mental space that work took up. Being able to focus fully on my art practice (at least during school hours) has not only allowed me to be more prolific, but it’s given me the headspace to take a deeper dive into both the technical aspects of becoming a better painter, as well as more ambitious, larger scale work.

EXPLORING NEW MEDIUMS AND TECHNIQUES

GA: Are there any new mediums or techniques you’re eager to explore in your artwork?

PB: I’m always interested in exploring new ways of using paint. Lately I’ve been quite curious about tonalist landscapes, and I’d love to explore how I might bring this into my work in some way. I used to enjoy all sorts of creative endeavours (illustration, ceramics, sewing) but I’ve found that in order to get the best work done I have to be quite ruthlessly focused with my creative
energy, so right now I am focusing solely on painting.

THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE IN THE ARTISTIC JOURNEY

GA: What aspects of the artist’s life excite you the most, and how do they influence your creative journey?

PB: I’ve come to recognise that connecting with the natural world is more important than just about any other element of my art practice. I’ve found that if life gets in the way of my morning walk or my ability to get outside, I really struggle creatively. It’s funny because I obviously paint people, but really it’s the surroundings that I’m interested in, or at least, the subjects’ connection with that place. I don’t paint specific locations, as I like my girls to exist in their own world, so the landscape carries more emotional weight. Having the ability to immerse myself in nature whenever I like is probably the greatest gift of being a full time artist.

EVOLUTION OF ARTISTIC STYLE

GA: As a self-taught painter, how have you observed your artistic style evolving over the course of your career?

PB: I learnt to paint in both oils and acrylics, but used acrylics for the most part in my early days as I had babies around while I worked. I was painting a lot of child portraits, and I was determined to learn to apply acrylics in a way that made them look as realistic as possible, which was very challenging. The transition to water mixable oils occurred around the same time as I began painting masks, a motif that really drew me in for its ability to add ambiguity to a portrait. I found the medium to be so easy and intuitive to use, particularly after years of working in acrylic washes. It also allowed me to produce work at a much larger scale, which provided the literal canvas for these worlds to come to life.

ADVISE FOR EMERGING ARTISTS

GA: What advice would you offer to emerging artists who are navigating their creative journey?

PB: There’s so much information for emerging artists out there, but I’ve lived by Andy Warhol’s advice: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

LOOKING AHEAD

GA: Looking ahead, what aspects of your artistic practice or future projects are you most enthusiastic about?

PB: My family and I recently travelled to Europe, and it was so inspiring, but I wish I’d had more time to explore the landscapes! I’m excited about travelling to new and interesting places and drawing from that in future work.

 

Flora & Fauna, the second solo exhibition by Penelope Boyd at Gallery Alchemy and will be on display throughout March 2024.

Visit @gallery.alchemy on Instagram or keep up to date at www.galleryalchemy.com

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