Using Kimonos and period costumes for her models, Rew has created an evocative style all her own. Her powerful, stunning, portraiture transcends that which we see and brings to light the hidden mystery that lies deep within.’
~ Informed Collector 2012
In my quest to explore topics for the Orient this month at Paint + Pattern, I was delighted to discover an unusual combination of sheer artistic talent overlapping with our theme of the month. Figurative painter Stephanie Rew of Scotland paints portraits, landscapes and various kinds of women’s costumes including the amazingly detailed Japanese kimono oil paintings. Yes! I couldn’t believe it either at first, but these are not real people, but stunning oil paintings that look real!
Demonstrating strong drawing and painting abilities early in life, Stephanie Rew often drew from memory as a source of self-amusement. Once enrolled at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, she followed her calling as a figurative painter, often sitting in with the Dundee Repertory Dance Company to draw. To quote her website,
Stephanie’s strength lies in being able to capture the female form in all her glorious guises, whether clothed or not, with sideward glances catching passing thoughts and emotions.”
After graduation, during a stint in Brighton with the Arts Festival, Stephanie organized large group shows in empty office buildings. This arrangement allowed her a full-time painting career and a great exhibit opportunity. Fifty charcoal drawings of dancers were obtained by the John Lewis Partnership to sell at their flagship Oxford Street store. This set the wheels in motion for her first solo show at the Sussex Arts Club, and ultimately a London gallery to represent her.
Now, years later, Stephanie has become an international artist, exhibiting across the UK, Europe, Dubai, Hong Kong and the United States. After having spent some time in London, Stephanie now lives with her family in the Leith Shore area of Edinburgh.
The human form is probably the strongest and most potent symbol we have. Why not use it to convey something beautiful”
~ Stephanie Rew 2012
“My primary subject matter is the female figure. Always painted with a sense of ambiguity; faces half hidden, with the human form often just emerging from the darkness. The human anatomy is the predominant motif of my work and I have developed my style using drapery and pattern in combination with the figure.
After studying the society portraits of James McNeil Whistler and woodblock prints of the Japanese Ukiyo-e, I have become increasingly interested in pattern and design as well as depth and form, and have embarked on a series of works combining these attributes…
… I have always been heavily influenced by the Baroque style of oil painting and utilize a combination of Old Masters techniques with my own alla prima style. The practice of glazing is important to the finished article – it gives the illusion of an inner glow to the paint. Caravaggio’s trademark use of chiaroscuro and strong color created by glazing techniques has inspired my work for the last decade.”
~Stephanie Rew 2011
Aren’t these paintings simply stunning?! They make you feel like you are there in the same room. The color, the patterns, the use of light and form may have inspired you to create something beautiful of your own. If so, how about accentuating your plain robes with some gorgeous Japanese stencil patterns from Royal Design Studio? To get you started, check out the Kimono stencil (above), that can be used in unlimited modern color combinations, both bright and muted.
Stay tuned all this month for How-To projects inspired by the Orient on Paint + Pattern. Meanwhile, if you create something beautiful, don’t forget to send us photos of your projects. We know that stencil stars are being born daily and we would love to see and share what you create to inspire others!