Canadian artist Bibiana Hooper likes working with acrylics, fluid acrylics, and inks, exploring how these mediums work together in layers on canvas or watercolour paper. We interviewed Bibiana to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she is working on today.
1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art?
I like to paint in the mornings, by 9 am I am in the studio with my second cup of latte. Mornings are exciting, with a promise of new possibilities. When I am starting a new series, I spend a lot of time preparing, planing the concepts and figuring out a colour palette. When I already have a series on the go, I sit with the paintings and look at them contemplating the things I am satisfied with and things that jump out at me and need attention. Music is a must, and a huge part of my creative process, it sets a “Vibe of Energy” I tap into while I paint.
I am inspired by were I live. My family and I moved from the city a decade ago to live in the country with expansive views of vineyards, orchards, lakes, mountains and sky. A dream we had, to live a slower pace of life and made it a reality. My garden is alive 7 1/2 months out of the year which brings me the greatest joy and biggest inspiration. I tend to it, nurture it, and share it. I am constantly making huge bouquets and sending them off for others to enjoy. I have been refining my photography skills and I take lots of photos of the flowers I grow in various back drops and compositions. These photos are my subjects of admiration and infinite inspiration. The other very important influence of my work is interior design. I collect interior design magazines and used them often for inspiration.
2. Tell us more about your art studio!
I was painting in the basement for few years until my husband and I built a studio above our garage in 2019 for the purpose of having my own space to create. When the pandemic hit, it took two more years to complete. Definitely learned to be patient with the process and knowing it will get done one day. I had a lot to do with the design of it and all the finishings. It has great big windows with expansive views off the lake and mountains. The ceiling is high for lots of light to come in and lots of floor space which I was desperate for. I am so grateful to have this space of my own, where I can spread out, listen to loud music, be free and leave a mess if I want to.
3. How did you get interested in your medium?
Over the years I have taken some fundamental art classes, but never explored art and painting in depth until we moved to the country and I wanted to fill the walls with big paintings, but couldn’t afford original art. So, I started to paint. I am impatient by nature, acrylics were the easy choice for their fast drying time and clean up. My first painting was 48x48 that was hung on our living room wall. That painting went and that wall has seen more paintings that I can count! I have been slowly evolving getting some solid techniques down, but I felt I didn’t have my own voice yet.
The biggest creative transformations I went through was when I went for an interview and got accepted in late 2019 into a local collective art gallery. It was a dream come true. I used to walk by that gallery often thinking I am going to show my work here one day! I had all these paintings that seemed like a good starting point, but now it was time to let them go. I wanted to show something new, so I decided to start over. I deconstructed some of my old paintings and re stretched new canvases. I noticed other artist were painting on raw canvases and diluting their paints on social media. That got me really exited! My work got looser and the colour palette simpler. My first season I was with the gallery I sold most of my new series and I got amazing feedback from some respectable artists in the community. I found my own artistic voice and it put a fire in me to keep painting.
4. Describe your style in one sentence!
My style is modern, minimalistic, and poetic.
5. Has your style changed over time?
Yes, my style keeps evolving with every new series I paint. I go between floral/botanical to landscape, otherwise I would get terribly bored. With each new series, I get to learn more about myself and what I am trying to say through my art. Over the past couple of years, I have simplified my colour palette and my style is loosening up more. I am learning to trust my process that I have the knowledge, and skill to bring what I see and experience on to the canvas. If the viewer sees and feels something new they haven’t experienced yet, that is truly magical to me! I stoped worrying about controlling where my art practice goes next. I purely work with intuition and listen to what sparks excitement and joy in me.
6. What are your main artistic tools?
My main artistic tools are my raw and gesso canvases, three sizes of flat brushes, jars of fluid acrylic paint, knee pads and my Bose headphones.
7. Do you experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?
Absolutely! I feel that is part of the experience of being an artist and a way to learn and evolve. Henri Matisse said it well “Creativity takes courage”. It takes a lot of courage to be creative and true to self even when self doubt appears. It’s ebb and flow of composition, shapes and colour. Sometime it comes easy, but sometimes when I push myself to find that balance that’s when the creative block can happen. It shows me my limits. My husband reminds me on regular basis why I paint “For the Joy of it”, and he is right. I let it go, because I know it will pass. And it does, when I feel renewed and rested it’s amazing the flow of creativity seems effortless again.
8. What artists - either contemporary or form history - have had an impact on you and your art practice?
Historically : The Forgotten women painters of the Dutch Renaissance (the dark backgrounds with colourful bouquets) - like Clara Peeters, Maria van Oosterwijck and Rachel Ruysch - in a patriarchal society and against all odds this art is still enjoyed around the world today. Georgia O’Keeffe - a modernist artist who painted in precisionism ( reducing the subject to their essential geometric shapes,) like the close up of flowers. Leonardo DaVinci - I visited Le Chateau du Clos Luce in France where he spent his last few years before he died. He was an inventor first then an artist. On the property they had all sorts of models he designed everything from flying machines to armoured vehicle. In the gardens they had massive see-through cloth artworks (The Mona Lisa) hanging amongst the trees. It was breathtaking! I have also read the book “The Night Portrait” by Laura Morelli. The book was about the history of one of his famous paintings “Lady with an Ermine” left a big impression on me and the importance of art in history. Finally, Claude Monet - the founder of impressionist and the key to modernism. I have a book on him and seeing his transformation of his earlier work to his most famous work by the end of his career, encourage me so much to keep painting.
Contemporary: I get a lot out of being around and experiencing the art world first hand in my community and connecting with other artists. I have a beautiful collection of art from local artists that I have met and admired. Through social media there are so many amazing artist right now. Artist in all forms are inspirations to me… Painters, Curators, Designers, Chefs, Musicians, and Writers just to name a few. The ones that had a direct impact on me are: Amy Stewart, Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator), Bobbie Burgers, Gee Gee Collins, Monica Perez, Rebecca Rebouche, Liza (aka The Curator On The Go), Charles Elias Ingalls (aka CharlesTheFist), Mac Miller, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Joanna Gaines, Mimi Thorisson and a recent discovery Neri Oxman.
9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?
Yes! The pandemic has definitely propelled the art world in a new direction. The old model structure of galleries and museums has forced them to change to a virtual one online, which has been quite successful. It has also opened new possibilities for artists to share their work more visibly and express them selves authentically. I think there is a closer more transparent connection between artist, galleries, curators and collectors. A trend that will continue to evolve.
10. What project are you working on right now? What would you like to do next?
I am in the middle of a new series that I am working on right now, which consists of 12 pieces. I love working with a cohesive collection that has different versions of the same subject, but different compositions with distinct colour palette. I haven’t shared it yet on social media. I am hanging on to release it in next few months. It feels exciting to take my time in this manner, not rushed and more thoughtful. Being accepted and part of Kefi Art Gallery is an honour and it has propelled me to educate myself more on how to work with social media and improving my website. I am in the process of contemplating how I want my work to be represented now and in the future. When I have couple of more series under my belt I would like to put a proposal together for a commercial art gallery.