Meet the Others: Cece Philips
The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic talent showcasing their work with The Other Art Fair.
Tell us about who you are and what you do. What is your background?
I’m a self-taught artist based in London. Following school I studied history at university and then spent two years in advertising. I very recently left my job at the beginning of lockdown to do art, and have been painting full time ever since. Since I was at school, I would go to weekly life drawing classes on Friday evenings, and following university I did a short art course in Florence. Both of these quite traditional courses influenced my earlier works, which were largely figurative and themed around femininity. My work recently took a shift towards looking at more historical depictions of black figures, influenced by my own background as a mixed race woman in London and my studies at university.
If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be?
Strong. Vibrant. Black.
How did you first get interested in your mediums and what draws you to them specifically?
I grew up painting with acrylics and watercolours and remember the exact occasion I first painted with oils when I was younger. The way the brush and paints felt so much smoother, lasted longer – so you could really take your time, and seemed (to me at least) to have more vibrancy – I’ve been painting with oils pretty much ever since. I also love the way they can act in different ways. Some of the figurative paintings I’ve done I would mix in a hefty amount of sansodor to let the paint run down the canvas – acting more like water than thick paint.
Can you walk us through your process? How do you know when an artwork is finished?
I think my process can go one of two ways. The beginning is always my favourite part and tells me how the painting will go. Once I put down the base colours, I normally get a good gut feeling for whether the work will be one I’ll get excited about whilst painting and have an end result I’m particularly pleased with, or it won’t. It’s sort of like starting a book and knowing instantly whether it will be a page turner you love, or just one you’re happy to read and enjoy the process of. Depending on this, I think my process differs slightly. For the former, I’ll normally be consumed by it for a few days or, if the latter, will take my time over a few weeks. In both cases, I’ll know a work is finished when you look at it and the figures seem complete and you can feel their presence in a room.
Has being in isolation affected your artwork practice in any way?
The most immediate and obvious answer would be isolation resulting in me changing my career to pursue art full time (a huge positive). One negative way in which it has changed my practice, is not being able to visit exhibitions regularly and have that outside inspiration. However, we’re lucky we’re able to access a whole host of art, exhibitions and materials online – so whilst you can’t physically go and see new work you can still get inspired from home.
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
I’m a huge overthinker, so ‘don’t overthink it’.
Shop artwork by Cece Phillips and other trailblazing artists at The Other Art Fair’s Online Studios.
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