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Fenton & Fenton Supernova

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Melbourne based Antoinette Ferwerda is a firm favourite amongst interior designers, stylists and home decorators alike. Her happy, geometric abstract and landscape paintings powerfully use colour, adding elegance and energy to contemporary homes. Her works focus on luminosity and the geometry of shape and her love of colour are evident in all her works. If you are looking for a room hero, an original work by Antoinette will do the trick.

From childhood dreams of longing to be an artist to making this a reality, in our recent interview, Antoinette shares some advice she was given when starting out, her process in creating and inspiration galore in the lead up to our latest group show, Supernova.

What did you want to do when you were a child?

In my heart, I've always known that I wanted to be an artist. It's all I ever dreamt of and was the first thing I thought about becoming from a very young age. I remember telling my parents I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Funny how my working life had other ideas and after years of career twists & turns, I finally ended up back at the start of my dream and following my passion wholeheartedly.

How did you break into the world of art?

Art has always been my first love and it's been a long and slow process at times. I studied Graphic Design and Visual Communication straight out of school at RMIT (I never actually finished and switched to a different arts degree). I really just loved to paint. So, over the years, my paintings began to fill my home and those of supportive friends and family, which encouraged me to develop my business and create art for retail stores and galleries. My first solo exhibition was scary, but there was no turning back, which enabled me to break into the world of art with the beginnings of my professional artist reputation. 

Who bought your first piece of art and what was it?

Not counting the works on paper I sold at my primary school annual market, the first painting I ever sold was called "Mako". I painted eight individual, smaller canvases then joined them to create one large mural and it sold to a friend for his corporate office space. I was really proud of it because I made the frames and stretched the canvases myself. Every panel was matte black with gloss black lines to create an outline of an abstract shark.

Name an artist, past or present, whom you admire?

Josef Albers, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Frank Lloyd-Wright, J.M.W.Turner, Bridget Riley, Sally Smart. 

What was the first piece of art you ever bought?

My husband and I bought a little-framed etching together by Charles Blackman called “The Artist’s Studio”, which we came across many years ago in an auction house. It hangs in our front lounge room currently and always holds the most special place in my heart as our first piece of art.

What was your most recent art purchase?

My husband and I recently purchased a painting by contemporary Aboriginal artist, Mary Pityara titled “Bush Yam”. We love it and Mary’s work.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out? 

"Keep your real job so you always have money to fund your hobby. After time, make your hobby your real job" (my Mum).

What inspires and motivates you to create every day?

I wake up thinking about and go to sleep dreaming about making art. I'm motivated by my passion to create and I'm inspired by what I see in nature, architecture, fashion, music, photography, design, form, colour and pattern. I observe changing light and the world around me. I'm fortunate to receive daily inspiration from my children's drawings and my own, previous artworks inform my observations of how I could make a painting better and build upon an existing concept.

What's your creative process in producing a piece of art or body of works?

My creative process usually starts after school drop off with a coffee in hand and the music is turned up loud in my art studio. Sometimes working on smaller versions or prototypes before moving to larger scale artworks helps with problem solving and investigation into my composition. Music allows me to quickly explore my subconscious state so pure creativity flows. Some prototypes remain in my studio for a while as inspiration and reminders for future paintings.

How do you decide what medium/s to create with?

I've always loved working with acrylic paint and collage. My technique of using mixed media on canvas always challenges me to investigate my layering process and achieves a transparent quality to my paintings.

Where do you paint/draw/sculpt/create?

I'm fortunate these days to lease a large studio space near my home, which is also close to my children's school. The building is old and I've renovated the front as a display area and office. I work from the rear studio space. There are drop sheets all over the wooden floors and large walls to prop my paintings when under construction.

What inspired your latest body of works for Supernova?

The "Nebula" series is inspired by the birth of stars. It's fascinating to know those same elements that exist in our own human bodies are also found in stars. Forces of nature combine to create stars, just as they do for human life, and I've tried to visually express these processes in my abstract nebula paintings. Just like stars, we are born and we die. I love our connection to the cosmos.

How do you think your art has evolved or changed over time?

My paintings have become larger in scale and I've enjoyed developing new compositional styles, moving ahead with new series but not forgetting my previous 'Hills' series. I'm really enjoying the freedom of my 'Nebula' series and now the intricacy & detailed pattern work in my 'Skull' series. I've always enjoyed working with paint and the simple flow-time and freedom of expression it provides each day.

How do you describe your work to others?

I think my paintings are more abstract-expressionist in style, with lots of layering using mixed media. My paintings encourage the viewer to look deeper through surface layers to find hidden stories of colour and form.

What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?

My no-fail go-to when I need inspiration can vary, but my favourite ways of getting out of a creative rut include walking with my dog Pippa, or speed-viewing the pages of a great magazine. I prefer to look through books and magazines with beautiful photography. My own photos of travel destinations always reveal something different, despite having looked at them loads of times. I always seem to find a new detail, maybe a pattern or colour combination from which to draw new inspiration. My studio has music playing all the time so new songs and playlists are a regular feature, especially when painting for a show to keep the energy high. (A large bag of sour bear lollies always helps too).

What advice can you give our art buyers when choosing art for their home?

When you find a connection with a piece of art you love, it's a very subjective and special feeling. Even more special if you can meet the artist to gain insight and understanding of the inspiration behind the painting. Owning the painting you love will definitely bring you joy, which will send a powerful, positive reinforcement to the artist to keep creating artistic goodness.

What do you do when you're not producing art?

When I'm not producing art or running the business behind making art, I really enjoy family time with my husband and two children, simply taking walks together with our dog or bike riding on weekends. As the Melbourne weather becomes cooler, family movie nights snuggled on the couch eating chocolate together are lazy and indulgent but are a favourite time out for me. Life is busy with lots of social, family & school activities so taking time out with a good magazine or some exercise is important for my mind to stay focused but relaxed when I'm working on an upcoming exhibition.

What's something that you haven't done yet that you'd like to?

I'd like to enter a portrait in the Archibald prize and learn how to create a bronze sculpture one day.

How do you juggle family life and your evolving art business?

Juggling family life around my evolving art business and creating art is a tricky balance. Some days I paint and other days it's all about managing the business operations of art production, including framing schedules, couriers, exhibition deadlines, private commissions and online orders plus social media and marketing communications. Over the years my art business has evolved to include an art assistant, a sales agent and an operations/marketing manager, plus a bookkeeper. Having help with the art business administration and operations has enabled me to maintain my focus on painting production.

Is there a stand out moment in your art career that has really propelled you to keep doing what you love?

My stand out moment came when my husband told me he believed in me and told me I should explore my art wholeheartedly. It's not always been easy and it's taken many years of patience and creative development, but it propelled me to keep working really hard. I'm grateful everyday for this chance to follow my passion and live my dream life, calling myself an artist today.

SOURCE: FENTON & FENTON

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Antoinette Ferwerda Interview | Inspiration and New Collection

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Q. WHERE DO YOU LOOK TO FIND YOUR IDEAS AND INSPIRATION?

My art and design practice are triggered by simple, random observations – the colour of a flower in my garden, shapes in clouds or the patterns on the sand from waves washing the shore. I’ve always been interested in science which was the basis for my previous corporate career within the pharmaceutical industry. I love to explore links between science and art, then build upon these ideas to create a visual interpretation of my concept through painting. Surface patterns on living and non-living things are one of my obsessions. I’m inspired by my children’s drawings, stories or when they read poetry, paint or even build Lego. I also often listen to music whilst I paint which helps me find the subconscious space where my painting takes over.

 

Q. HOW HAS THIS NEW COLLECTION EVOLVED COMPARED TO YOUR LAST WORKS?

My new collection of star-inspired paintings adds another dimension to my compositional styles alongside hills and rockpools. I’ve explored the chemistry and process involved when stars are born, grow old and finally die which is the same for each of us (although it doesn’t take billions of years thank goodness!). The new collection has moody, darker colours and reflects the night sky exploding with bursts of color with the birth of a star.  My ”Light Years” exhibition incorporates the elements of our planet, namely the heavens, earth and water.

 Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF ARTWORK IN YOUR NEW COLLECTION AND WHY?

The larger paintings are definitely my favourite ones as it’s so much fun to paint BIG!  It’s very hard to choose one painting but I’m really intrigued with ‘Dark Matter’ …  it’s fascinating to observe and listen to other people’s interpretations of this painting and the way they see so many varied things in my abstract representation of the nuclear fusion process.

 

Q. WHAT COLOURS ARE YOU WORKING WITH AT THE MOMENT?

My colour palettes are darker with more contrast including deep tones of charcoal, navy and cobalt blue brought to life with bright white, metallics and subtle blush tones. Grey and darkest green anchor the colour explosions and provide negative space.

 

Q. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE COLOUR TRENDS FOR THE SEASON?

Silver and white for fresh, classic crispness. Rich burnt orange and ochre for warmth alongside natural greens and beige.

Q. HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

My works soar from land to sea to sky. Using mixed media on canvas, I like to bring light to invisible rhythms, relationships and energies that course through the world as I see it. The Hills series, with its repeating arcs of colour and harmonious reflections are broken apart in the Rockpool series, where water shatters and reforms the world anew. The Star series launches us into the universe above, where the vastness of the cosmos is fractured and compressed, stretched and unfolded into visions of eternity.

Q. LASTLY, ANY HINTS ON WHAT YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE?

Staying open to creative ideas and influences is part of my daily flow time. The future always brings new possibilities and then it takes time and hard work to draw upon my ideas to create a complete concept. I’m thinking about flowers lately and observing texture and shapes …. watch this space

SOURCE: DESIGN TO INSPIRE

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Artist Antoinette Ferwerda Creates A Mural For The Clickon Furniture Abbotsford Showroom

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Frankie Magazine Cover

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Click to enlarge image antoinette-ferwerda-big.jpg 

It goes without saying that we’re big fans ofAntoinette Ferwerda and her artwork Little Hills in Blue – that’s why we plastered it all over the cover of frankie issue 70.

It’s also why we got in touch with the lovely Melbourne lady again and asked her for a little treat: a print of the colourful collage piece to give away to one of our lucky readers. Woohoo! The good news is that Antoinette said yes, and we have one medium-sized version up for grabs. To enter, just email us with your name and address and tell us what the image represents (hint: you’ll find the answer on page 20 of the mag).

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Interiors Addict | Antoinette Ferwerda on her inspiration & stunning new prints

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Antoinette started creating works of art aged around three, all over her parents’ walls! Luckily, they forgave her and fostered her creativity. “I was constantly drawing, sketching, painting and writing and illustrating stories,” she says. “I even drew up plans for my dream home. I guess there was never a time when I didn’t think of myself as an artist. At eight years of age, I received my first microscope. This was a pivotal time in my life. My early observations of insect wings, flowers and water droplets started a lifelong obsession with pattern, art, design and science.”

 

So it’s perhaps not entirely (if a little) surprising that Antoinette ended up working in pharmaceuticals. Although she was passionate about being an artist, the sensible side of her thought she’d better get a ‘proper’ job to pay the bills. “I’m not the only artist to grapple that challenge, and I won’t be the last. Working in the corporate world of ‘big-pharma’ in sales for over 10 years saw me develop my career, while still creating paintings. I learned valuable business skills — sales, product development, budgets, marketing and people management – all skills you need as an artist too.” In the evenings and on weekends, she painted, determined to sell her work and one day start her own art business.

 

It was becoming a mum which finally allowed her to transition into a full-time artistic career as she negotiated small children. “Having a very supportive husband, somewhere amongst the nappies, feeding and sleep cycles, I managed to carve out creative time in my dedicated art studio. My passion to focus on creating art as my vocation evolved over time and I’m extremely grateful that I have successfully created a business that satisfies my artistic drive and stirs connections in others.”

 

That was 10 years ago.  During this time, Antoinette says she’s learnt a lot about herself and her creative abilities, while saying ‘yes’ to just about every creative project going to grow her skill base and build her confidence. “Becoming a full-time artist seemed to open up opportunities for me. There have been some intensely enriching moments, like my very first solo exhibition after months of late nights in the studio. Nothing will ever replace that memory of  sold-out sales of all of my original artworks.”

There have been a few bumps in the road along the way too, of course, like the first time she saw one of her designs ‘borrowed’, slightly altered and claimed by someone else. Antoinette was frustrated and disappointed. “Working as a full-time artist requires every ounce of my passion, dedication, determination, courage and trust in myself that I can innovate faster than others can imitate.”

She describes her style as abstract impressionist and her paintings combine mixed media on canvas or linen. “Many of my paintings contain abstract shapes with layers of colour blocking. For many buyers who are attracted to my landscapes, their abstract yet somehow familiar interpretations of the Australian outback and coastline seem to really resonate. I like to think my style evokes hopefulness, positivity and pure pleasure.”

Her inspiration comes from nature, science, architecture, fashion, interior design, family history, psychology, travel, cultural tradition and sociology; pretty much everywhere! “My art and design practice really are triggered by simple, random observations – the colour of a flower in my garden, shapes in clouds or the patterns on the sand from waves washing the shore. Surface patterns on living and non-living things are one of my obsessions. I’m inspired by my children’s drawings, stories or when they read poetry, paint or even build Lego. I also often listen to music whilst I paint which helps me find the subconscious space where my painting takes over.”

Antoinette’s rightfully proud of her latest prints, pictured here, which combine her science and art backgrounds beautifully. They’re a curated selection of limited edition reproductions from her original 2015 paintings for her ‘Alchemy’ solo exhibition. “Early chemists, known as alchemists, were inspired by ancient traditions and  attempted to transmute base metals like tin and lead to form noble metals like gold. I was fascinated by their work and incorporated gold, silver or copper metallic leaf in my works. I loved exploring the transmutation and colour change process using mixed media. My New Galactic prints and the symbolic We Have Met Before butterfly print are just luminous.”

She’s happy to be able to open up her work to more people and make it more affordable. “Selling limited edition art prints has been a satisfying process in showcasing my art and introducing my painting style to diverse art buyers. Offering an accessible price point has been important for my business growth. I’ve enjoyed a successful association with wholesaler representation. Greenhouse Interiors has styled my art prints alongside gorgeous homewares, and this has led to greater awareness of my artwork.”

“Art and interiors are intrinsically linked, whether a room is designed around a painting or a painting is hung within a space to create colour, evoke feeling or start a narrative,” she says. “Art is personal and subjective, it may hold great meaning or sometimes be something you simply loved at first sight. When choosing art, I like to feel a connection with the piece – maybe it’s the colour or the composition, the technique or subject matter, the artist’s story or the title of the painting.”

If you’re keen to start an art collection and have limited experience, she recommends starting at your local gallery. “Supporting existing and emerging artists is a great way to build your confidence and appreciation for varied artworks and styles. Ask questions of the gallery staff as you grow your understanding of the artist, their process, and themes and mediums used. You may be surprised by how comfortable you begin to feel within the gallery space — just keep following your instincts, and enjoy the process of opening yourself up to artworks.” From a more practical perspective, think about where you will hang the painting, what mood it bring to your space and if the dimensions will fit your wall.

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