They say that art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, channeled into a chosen medium. In this case, Singapore based artist Victoria Owenby has done just that with her beautiful paintings. When I came across Victoria and her work, I knew instantly that she was creating something very special.
We managed to pin her down for a chat..
1. When was your first venture into art? Did you always know you were going to be a professional artist?
My mother loved to draw & attended painting classes. She took me with her so I was lucky to get oil painting classes when I was very young, around 5 years old. I was hooked immediately & very encouraged by the whole experience. I knew then that one day I would have my own art studio but I never dreamed that I would take it to the professional level. My Mother taught me that it was a very difficult career from which to make money, so I studied & received a bachelors of accounting, information systems, economics & Japanese first, worked in corporate, then pursued art after spending years building my career in the banking industry.
2. How would you describe your art?
My art varies, from portraits & still-life in graphite on paper, to acrylic geometric abstracts, to oil in realism. I love to use a lot of color, the brighter the better, especially for the abstract pieces that I supply to interior designers with the custom colors they require for their projects. Neons, metallics & sparkly paints are all my favorite go-to paint colors for the abstract pieces, though I have to be careful not to use too much of these. These abstract pieces are in opposition to the new collection that I’m working on for my upcoming solo exhibition, which is still full of color but rather serious with the intention of invoking in the viewer, an uplifting perspective into individuals’ lives. The Eternal Collection incorporates all types of mixed mediums, nothing is off-limits. The focal point of each art piece is an item of clothing from a passed loved-one & speaks to the interests, hobbies & remembrances about them, the pieces are bespoke & are a mix of abstract, realism & soul, a story-board, if you will, of a life lived, loved & honored.
3. Did you experiment with different mediums before settling on one?
I have always been an extremely detailed person, & therefore, can spend a very long time on realism art pieces, though, when I chose art as my full-time career, I found that time-consuming type of work as an unknown artist to be financially unviable. I therefore started working in acrylic paint & painting in abstract, it helps me to abandon the details and focus on color. I initially started doing abstract works in oil but found they took too long to dry in Singapore, another unfeasible core business element I found that needed tweaking if I was to sustain myself as an artist professionally. I finally settled on acrylics because they behave best in the Singapore environment.
4. What’s your sensibility? What sets your pieces apart?
Expressing emotion through color is what appeals to my sensibilities. To me, the color in sunrises & sunsets — that moment when the entire Earth takes a breath & is completely still as if waiting for the sun to finish it’s glorious journey through the horizon, that’s what awes & inspires me. Through color, I recreate the emotion I receive from creation itself.
People tend to compliment my art for the bright colors that I marry together on canvas. The fact that I can mix colors from a 2000+ paint chip palette & have an eye for tying in colors through an interior is what sets my abstract work apart, it’s custom-made art with as much input by you as you would like, it’s professional DIY-art. In that vein, it’s the same with the work that I’m doing for the Eternal Collection, that too is very specific to the individual that commissions the piece. I make art more available to people who cannot paint art for themselves. Through me, they can essentially paint their own art piece.
5. How difficult is custom made or bespoke? Isn’t art subjective?
Yes, it’s subjective so I ensure that the client is involved throughout the entire process, a client wouldn’t commission me without first enjoying my artistic style. I think the difficulty can be found when a client is unsure what they want & then change their ideas along the way. When I’m commissioned to do an abstract piece, I will involve the client as much as they want to be involved, some want a lot of input, some are unsure what they want & just provide me with a photo of the wall & furnishings in the room that they need to dress with a painting. The client can choose the size of the canvas, the colors, & the style by looking at my website www.artandsoul.sg, provide me with the paint colors they want to include, & any that they want to avoid. I will provide an example of the piece to provide a starting point, if the colors need tweaking we do that, there are checkpoints along the way to ensure that the client is happy, & if they are happy I go ahead with the final product. A bespoke abstract piece only costs an extra SGD100 on top of the price. Bespoke Eternal Collection pieces are more subjective & detailed so the client will get a color sketch for viewing my initial ideas & an understanding of the media that I’m looking to use before the final piece is painted. They are involved along the way with the price depending on the complexity of the particular piece. People seem to enjoy seeing the final piece come together & their ideas materialize.
6. Do you have any tips for young aspiring artists?
You would be surprised how many people say to me that they want to paint but they are afraid their art pieces will not be any good. I tell them that the end result is of no relevance. I think the most important thing is to simply pick up a brush or palette knife & paint, keep practicing, keep changing where you set up to paint, & stay inspired. Don’t be afraid to set out doing what you love, don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to literally throw paint at a canvas if you have run out of inspiration because you can come back & start a new piece or paint over the old one another day. Don’t be a perfectionist because you can over-paint perfection, lose time, & dull your inspiration. Paint with as many people as you can so that you can learn different techniques from them & eventually find your own style. Visit art exhibitions & try to get the chance to sit with children doing art work, it’s refreshing & inspiring, they don’t care about what they might produce at the end, they love the journey instead of the result. Art is a journey, don’t take yourself too seriously, relax, paint, & have fun!
7. Do you have any tips for new art enthusiasts/collectors?
I’m not one to give tips to art collectors, the most expensive piece of art that I have bought from another artist cost me about USD100 over 13 years ago in Cartagena, Colombia. I’ve never spent any significant amount of money on art as I’ve always painted my own & thus, in my house I am surrounded by art that I’ve painted over the years.
I don’t present through an art gallery in order to keep prices low as I don’t see the point of passing such high prices on to clients so I eliminate the middle man, everyone deserves to have access to truly affordable custom-designed art.