Fiona Maclean is a painter, illustrator, makeup artist, photographer & writer based in Sydney, Australia.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your art practice? Why and how did you become an artist?
I was an exceptionally shy person growing up and found that I felt connected to people by painting people especially faces. It started out more as a hobby and what gave me a lot of joy to studying graphic design, makeup and fine art.
Although I am mostly self-taught when it comes to fine art as my studies were cut short due to family tragedy. The inspiration behind my art practise is me finding 'connectedness' to the world through my art and self-expression and also for selfish reasons as a form of meditation and escapism.
You also work in fashion and advertising as an illustrator, makeup artist, costume illustrator, photographer and writer. How do you bring all these various aspects of your creativity together?
To me they are all quite similar and overlap one another, all creative forms complement and even bring inspiration to each medium. I actually know a few makeup artists who have become fine artists and/or illustrators.
How do you choose the men and women you represent in your paintings and illustrations?
The subject to me must have a vulnerability to them, a fragility and sometimes edginess to them, plus they aren’t perfect and sometimes flawed. That is what beauty is to me, not airbrushed perfection. Their sexuality is often close to the surface of the skin as well as. Sometimes there is a duality to them.
Are they people you meet in your fashion work?
No, not normally although that is definitely an influence on my work. On occasion if I am lucky I do have the opportunity to work from life although this is rare at moment as I am moving around a bit. I sometimes do take photos of the subject and then work from that. Other times I use the internet and magazines for inspiration and often use other fashion photographers who I adore and respect as a point of inspiration. In the future I would like to work more from life and have the model sit for me.
There is a timeless glamour in your compositions, especially in your ‘Beautiful Creatures’ series. Some of them remind of the women that Toulouse-Lautrec or Schiele would have painted. How do you approach creating a portrait that is undoubtedly about beauty and youth, but also has a deeper edge and meaning?
Wow, thank you for that HUGE compliment as both Toulouse Lautrec and Schiele are two of my biggest influences and have huge respect for. To be honest I mostly intuitively work and my drive and passion is to create beauty and a truthfulness about the subject and from the heart. I think sometimes people perhaps may fob off my work as being just ‘pretty’ but as I have grown up and into who I am and experienced some pretty harsh realities, it has brought with it a deeper edge.
You are based in Australia, what is the art scene like there?
In my opinion I think because Australia is geographically so far away from the rest of the ‘art world’ that art and artists there are sometimes a little bit on the peripheral and because its a much ‘younger’ country and doesn’t have the ‘art establishment hierarchy’ like for example New York, so art is a bit freer and possibly artists have a better platform and chance in gaining some recognition both locally and in turn globally.
What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice?
I would like to concentrate more not only on my portraiture in painting but also explore portraiture in photography. And concentrate on the theme of the male subject as being an object of desire, youth and beauty as well as exploring the theme of mortality and the ‘beauty’ within that. I would like to work towards a possible exhibition too….who knows, the doors are open for me for hopefully many opportunities coming my way.
More information on Fiona's work can be found on her website.