On a brilliantly sunny day in late September, I was lucky enough to visit Fiona Chandler at her lovely beach side home and studio at Freshwater. Tucked away in a bright room filled with natural light in the back yard lies a treasure trove of vibrant watercolour and ink paintings. Drooping dried poppies provide inspiration for Fiona’s most recent work. A plethora of brushes and inks cover the well used tables, you can almost read the artistic history through the paint lines on the tables. This is a much loved and well-used creative space. It’s hard to feel gloomy on a day like today in such a beautiful fresh space covered in the most beautiful, vibrant paintings I’ve seen in a long time. Fiona’s style is so fluid, you can almost see her arm moving across the page as you view the works. I asked Fiona about her background as a practicing artist……
Tell us about your background, how did you get into painting? Thinking I was going to uni to study and work in 3D as a pro designer I fell in love with painting and illustration. Painting led to graphic design after uni and years of graphic design led to other creative outlets. I always loved painting and the aim was to become full time at some stage… a dream.
How did you make the leap to full-time artist? After years of talking about it my husband called me on it. I was running a business at the time and felt I needed to keep growing that but their was little creativity in it. A simple thing like saying live a creative life. The rest will follow.. And it did. I was accepted into a residency program for 6 months. Having a space just for painting was a real turning point… exhibitions followed but also the commitment to my daily practice. It is true you have to turn up to make it happen.
Where do you find inspiration? From walking through my neighbourhood, travelling in the car… I use whatever is around me. Australia is extraordinary. There is so much to inspire. My students also energise me . Never a landscape artist a recent road trip to broken hill was truly amazing and I am putting a body of work together following the colour and pattern in the landscape.
What draws you to watercolour and ink? What do you love about this medium? The lack of control and vibrant colours. You have to go with it and embrace the unpredictability.
Describe your aesthetic. The beauty in nature. A bud leaf or branch may appear beautiful in it’s simplicity. A closer look shows the intricate patterns and shapes. With my paintings I hope to present something simple at first look , that invites the viewer to step forward and notice more and more details.