Claire Stening creates perfect illusions of real life – her extraordinary attention to detail and colour has an eye-catching exactness. Her works are reminders of the beauty in everyday – the way afternoon light hits a fruit bowl on the kitchen bench, or the funny little things you collect along the way as a mother of three.
Ahead of her latest exhibition opening this week at Edwina Corlette Gallery in Brisbane, we sat down with Claire to find out how she began her career as an artist, her favourite brushes to work with and what she loves to do in Brisbane.
Claire, what – or who – taught you to be an artist?
Well, I’m entirely self-taught. I went to an art class around 16 years ago, but just didn’t get much from it. It seemed like it was all old ladies painting dreary landscapes, so I went home and decided to just teach myself. I set up a studio with an easel and bought a whole heap of books, and just decided to do it my way.
Basically, I painted what I wanted to and then hung pieces up in my home. Friends started asking me about them and wanting to buy pieces off me. That’s where it all started! Then my first exhibition was in 2004… My husband and I rented a gallery space in New Farm, Brisbane and did everything ourselves, which meant I didn’t need to give anyone a commission. I sold 33 out of 36 paintings! It snowballed from there.
What is your must-have tool?
I live for Neef’s angle brushes. They let me do both a fine stroke as well as a wide stroke. They don’t last me very long though; I give them a good work out!
What rule do you always break?
I’m pretty easily distracted because I work from home. I always answer the phone when I probably shouldn’t.
What rule you never break?
I’m a rule breaker! Nothing is off limits!
You have an exhibition coming up at the Edwina Corlette Gallery. How do you celebrate victories like this?
I have a lovely support group around me. Drinks and dinner with friends and family is always the go.
What is one piece of art everyone should own?
It’s not a particular piece, but I think every couple should choose their art together. My husband and I buy all our pieces like that. You end up following artists together and finding similar tastes. I recommend only buying that way.
Apart from that, I always tend to buy art I can’t – or wouldn’t – do myself.
Tell us a bit more about Brisbane:
Best place to shop design… Modern Furniture Store on James St for homewares; Edwina Corlette Gallery for art.
Best place to eat… Libertine, Petrie Terrace
Best place to drink… Gerard’s Bar, James Street
Best place to stay… my house at Sunshine Beach
Best place to be… as above – it’s divine and peaceful. I tend to paint there a lot.
‘Grey’ will be exhibiting at the Edwina Corlette Gallery from 19 April – 14 May 2016.