I am Fiona de Lacy, a forty year old Irish artist and proud mother of four beautiful sons. Art is my life and my breath. Without art I would suffocate.
A Touch of Sense was the name of my last solo exhibition. The concept was inspired by my children and their various special needs. I have four young sons all of whom are at different levels on the autistic spectrum. My eldest son, Ryan, had the most difficulties to conquer with poor vision, co-ordination difficulties and ‘hypersensitive’ senses (ADHD, Higher Functioning Autism, Dyspraxia, Nystagmus).
Generations © Fiona de Lacy
I have spent many years bringing him to the Irish Council for the blind where he struggled to overcome most of his sensory issues through occupational therapy and the use of ‘sensory’ rooms for children with autism. I found it extremely fascinating just how much we take our senses for granted and how overpowering they can be for some children.
So, I attempted to create a body of work that people with or without ‘sensory’ difficulties could enjoy. Most of my work is heavily textured with the idea that even a person without sight could still enjoy the painting through touch. During the exhibition visitor’s were provided with gloves and invited to touch all the paintings.
When did you first realize you were an artist?
I was born an artist, it’s all I have ever been but I suppose I only began to take myself seriously as an ‘artist’ in 1990 when, to my surprise, I sold a large amount of work at my end of year Art College Exhibition. Only then did I realise that I had something I could contribute back to the world and I might even be lucky enough to make a living from it.
I tend to do mostly abstract art as this gives me the most pleasure. I have a couple of different styles, a technical, heavily textured, mathematically organised style as well as a softer, more flowing and relaxed style. I have been told many times by people ‘oh, I presumed the artist was male’. I think this is because of the technical elements in some of my work. Whatever my style is it always reflects my mood at that particular moment in time.
I am a mixed media artist so this is a very difficult question to answer as I use so many different types of mediums. I like to experiment with all sorts of stuff, the weirder the better. If it’s not meant to be used in a painting then I will find a way to incorporate it. I spend a lot of time snooping around DIY stores looking for anything that I might be able to incorporate into my work. I don’t have a favourite media as such but I suppose I do tend to use texture gels and acrylics a lot as I am drawn to very strong vibrant colours.
Do you have a technique or process?
I am an organised disorganised artist. There is no real technique behind my work as each piece comes from a different place, thought, idea. The idea is always the first step, most ideas are completed and constructed from beginning to end in my mind and then transferred straight to canvas. Sometimes the idea/concept continues to evolve even further than I had original anticipated while I’m working on the canvas.
It’s Complicated © Fiona de Lacy
My main themes are usually family related or mood related. I am an ‘Emotional’ artist as usually what’s happening in my life comes across in my art.
For example, ‘A Brand New Day’ was painted after an awful time in my life when my first child was being diagnosed with all sorts, my husband was very ill and unable to work and I wasn’t sure if I or my marriage would survive all the pressure. I felt like my life was falling apart and I was drowning. Then, everything came to a head and thankfully, as a family, we changed the road we were on and made definite plans for the future and decided we would do everything to keep our family and marriage together. The following day I felt I could breathe again, the weight that had been sitting on my shoulders for so long was finally gone and I could stand up straight.... it was a fresh start, it was ‘A Brand New Day’
Where do you find ideas for your art?
I suppose I tend to get my ideas usually from everyday life, mostly from my own life but sometimes from other peoples lives. Many things inspire me to paint, my surroundings, family, and sometimes even worries that I may have often evolve into a painting. Most of my work began as a ‘feeling’, happiness, despair, gratitude or it was inspired after a significant life event which caused an impact to me or others. What is happening at a particular moment in my life can have a great influence on what I am creating.
Why create art?
I create art because I need to, for me, for my health and for my sanity but mostly ... to breath. It is as vital to my wellbeing as air is to my lungs and if I am not creating then I am not fulfilled. I need to create to clear out the clutter in my brain and make room for all the other constant new ideas that keep coming to take up space.
Do you create art often?
I would love to say everyday but it’s not always possible with four young children to care for. I currently manage to have two full days and two evenings completely dedicated to painting per week and then I squeeze in any free available hours I can on top of that. On my ‘allocated’ days I put my earphones in, turn the volume up to full and the phone and door bell will go unanswered. I aim to be working full time within ten months when my youngest child begins school. I find it very frustrating at the moment that I can’t do all the things I would like to as my time is quite restricted and then, if anything interferes with my ‘work’ (play) time it drives me crazy.
Do you have a favourite artwork?
This best (or favourite) piece of art work changes regularly as I always aim to do better than my last piece. At this moment in time I would have to say it’s a very close tossup between ‘The Spectrum’ and ‘Generations’.
The Spectrum © Fiona de Lacy
Both pieces are quite personal to me and took quite a substantial amount of time to complete. They are both technical, well planned and both have a personal story hidden within them. I suppose ‘The Spectrum’ might just pip ‘Generations’ because it holds a message hidden inside it that I wanted others to search for. I wanted to teach people about appearance and acceptance and that just because you are ‘looking’ at something doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ‘seeing’ it.
The Process: This painting took 8 months to complete. It has 141 individual stripes painted in 27 different colours. Each stripe was painted between 6/7 times then every edge was meticulously repainted to remove any bleeding between colours.
Over 400 lengths of wooden sticks were painted in 27 different colours then cut into individual lengths. The lengths then decrease in size as they near the centre of the painting. The sticks are in pairs and each individual stick touches off the edge of it’s corresponding coloured stripe and also spans 3 coloured stripes. There are approx 1,000 individually cut sticks, all of which were then glued carefully into place and then both ends of each stick were painted.
The Story: Every circle on the painting represents a family and each family has two misplaced pieces ‘odd ones out’...which at first or second glance could easily be over looked (one piece in every circle is missing it’s partner, one piece in each circle spans 4 coloured stripes instead of 3). These small misplaced pieces represent every child with ‘hidden’ Special Needs, in my family it is autism, in yours it may be something else, a missing parent, a dead relative but the family circle while imperfect still exists.
At my exhibition I displayed this painting with no information other than its name. Only two people in the whole exhibition had realised there was something hidden in the painting and they were the two people who patiently stood still and just took a moment to look.
What is the artists’ role in society?
As I believe ‘everything’ is art related or stems from an idea, then I would have to say that the artist plays a vital role in society. The artist is ‘the beginning’ of the idea, the design, the concept therefore without the artist/creator/inventor we would never progress.
A Brand New Day © Fiona de Lacy
Do you make money selling your art?
I am delighted to be currently making good money as an artist but like most people I would like to be doing a little better. I have great expectations for myself and I hope to be able to fully provide for my family of six in the near future and ease some of the financial burden on my husband. I currently make my money through my website sales, regular exhibitions, commissions, various products and occasional craft fairs.
I promote my art mainly through Facebook and my website but have found the new changes to Facebook have drastically decreased my viewing audience. I have some other things currently in the pipe line but as nothing has been signed yet I can’t say much about it. I will also be launching some new product designs in the coming weeks which I am very excited about.
While I can appreciate the tremendous talent of artists gone before me there is no ‘one’ singular artist that has inspired me but there are many who I admire for their pure genius and technical skills. I am my own inspiration. All my work, past and present, has always been inspired by me, my life, the people around me, the lives they live, the pain and joy they feel.
The Indigo Children © Fiona de Lacy
Please recommend a great contemporary artist
At the moment there are two artist’s I have found through Facebook who’s work I am constantly drawn to but for very different reasons. The first is Alain Carpenter. I love Alain’s sculptures, they appear so simple, made from natural materials such as bamboo, wood and stone yet they are so technically complicated to create. His attention to detail and technical skills fascinate me, I think if anyone takes the time to actually look at the attention to detail in his structures they will see what a true genius he is. The second artist I am always drawn too is Rajaa, her work is beautiful, flowing with wonderful use of texture and bright colour. Alain satisfies my mathematical side of the brain and Rajaa satisfies my colourful side.
3 words that describe Fiona de Lacy:
Organised, Searching, Grounded
Please tell us some achievements in your life.
My achievements may seem small to others but they were massive events in my life. I struggled terribly all through my school life as I was dyslexic but in my time ‘Dyslexia’ didn’t have a name so I was considered stupid. I had to attend a class every day for ‘the stupid/slow’ kids. No one could understand why I was so clever at maths, art and building structures yet I was diabolical at reading writing and spelling.
Dyslexic © Fiona de Lacy
My greatest personal achievement was being the first of my mum’s five daughters to be accepted into art college. When the letter from the art college came to the house I was too nervous to open it because I knew it would kill me if I hadn’t been accepted. My family gathered in the kitchen while my mum opened it for me. My mum started screaming in a high pitch and dancing ‘you did it, you did it, you are going to college, my girl’s going to college!’ and the whole kitchen erupted into screams of joy and crazy dancing from my sisters. That piece of paper was the moment I knew for sure I wasn’t stupid and that I would make it in life with my family backing me all the way.
Did you ever feel like giving up art?
Where do you see your art in 10 years?
I believe an artist’s work should grow, improve and evolve with them. Anyone who is happy to do the same thing over and over again is just a good replicator and not necessarily a good artist. They have found one thing that sells well and they continue to mass produce it, they no longer evolve, improve and will probably never reach their full possible potential. I am constantly trying to improve and develop my work and techniques. I would hope that in 10-15 years, I will have grown, improved and developed more complicated and complex creations.
Thank-you Fiona de Lacy. Do you have any parting advice for aspiring artists?
Try to stay true to yourself and your own ideas. Don’t be drawn into the newest ‘popular’ best selling art. An awful lot of artist’s divert from what they want to do to ‘what’s popular’ to do. Remember that all art is an acquired taste so never be offended by people who dislike your work. If you know you have done your best then it is their loss and the next person’s gain.
Fiona de Lacy Art - A Touch of Sense
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