Regular browsers of Art2Arts will certainly be familiar with the beautifully bright paintings and mixed media creations of the truly original artist, Stephen Conroy. Whether he is creating patchwork landscapes from paper or vibrant abstract nudes using acrylics, the defining feature of his work is the incredible use of colour and the energy that it exudes. As with any artist, Stephen Conroy’s life and experiences have certainly played a part in forming the aesthetic and processes behind his pieces. Read on as we have a chat with Stephen, the creator of these fabulous technicolour pieces.
Q: Please could you tell us a little bit more about yourself? How would you describe your work?
My work is an eclectic mix of subjects, techniques and materials, all held together by the common core of a love of colour. I rarely settle on a way of working or a subject for long because I have a constant need to explore and push my personal boundaries in as many different directions as possible.
Q: You took a break from art for a very long time when you became a teacher, what drew you back in?
Unfortunately, I had a nervous breakdown. I am, by nature, an insular person and teaching requires an outgoing nature. So I was constantly battling against myself which resulted in the breakdown. The positive result was that I finally found my way back to art. I am happier now with the financial risks of being an artist than I ever was whilst teaching and having plenty of money.
Q: Do you regret the time not spent making art or do you think the experience helped shape you into the artist you are today?
I am a believer in fate so no regrets. I certainly feel that I am playing catch up and this drives me forward on a daily basis.
Q: What advice would you give to people in a similar situation – who may have had their confidence knocked or feel unable to find inspiration? What do you recommend to re-ignite people’s passion for art?
A tough question because as someone who still suffers regular bouts of depression I know how hard it is to motivate oneself to even get out of bed in the morning. If possible, get a dog. Seriously, mine gives me the joy and energy I need every day. But on a more practical level, visit galleries, choose a favourite artist or two. Study them, their life story. Allow artists of the past to be your guide and inspire you. This gives direction which is the main thing that stands in the way of creativity.
Q: What initially inspired you to create abstract pieces with such bold colours and form?
My earlier work was based on observation and drawing. But I found myself always looking at great photographic art and movie making. My work seemed so inadequate and meaningless. I needed to get away from what I see and respond to what I feel. One comment made by a tutor of mine decades ago sticks in my mind – ‘be an artist of your time’. For me this is abstraction.
Q. And now, why does pattern and shaped abstracts in vivid colours feature in your work?
This is a direct influence of working with children, watching them create without inhibitions, using every colour available to them with freedom of expression. Creating purely for one’s own joy and pleasure.
Q: Who are your favourite artists past and present?
I studied in London and spent every weekend in the galleries. I love Rembrandt, Matisse, Picasso, Degas and Rodin. Nowadays I look to Kandinsky, Albers and Turner Prize Winner Tomma Abts for much of my inspiration.
Q: You use a range of different media in your work – which would you say is your favourite?
This very much depends on my mood. I did a whole series of work using paper on canvas. Recently I tried to produce a new piece and found the process too slow and frustrating. Two days in I destroyed the canvas. I am enjoying using acrylics at present, especially mixed with PVA and applied with a palette knife. A wonderfully fresh and energetic technique
Q: What is your creative process? Has it changed over the years?
I used to draw straight to canvas, creating a composition from various photographs. With my abstracts I simply ‘play’ with drawing shapes and patterns. They are very instinctive creations. Now, especially with my figurative pieces, I will design the picture on a computer and then transfer it to canvas using a grid. Or I draw out a composition on the canvas, photograph it, and then work out the colours on the computer. Technology is certainly a useful tool.
Q: Your Art2Arts bio states your love for music – which musicians inspire you the most?
I work with music on all the time. I use a streaming service and so my collection of music is vast. One minute I can be listening to Steeleye Span and the next Hungarian folk metal band Dalriada. If I had to choose one go to band it would probably be the Spanish band Trobar de Morte.
Q: Similarly, how does your interest in astronomy influence your artwork?
Not so much nowadays. But it was a childhood interest which influenced many of my earlier circle based geometric abstracts and it is a subject I frequently return to. These are my Father’s favourite pieces of mine.
Q: Finally, do you have any upcoming exhibitions or events that readers should know about?
Nothing in the pipeline at present. My illness limits my personal interaction with people. This is why online sites like Art2Arts are so important. With this platform, I can connect with likeminded people all over the world!
Browse the full range of beautiful, vibrant paintings for sale from Stephen Conroy by heading to his dedicated artist’s page.