I’m an artist and illustrator, currently working in Bournemouth, Dorset. I was born in London, England on the 13th of March 1994. I lived in Chingford until moving to Cyprus with my parents in September 2002. I studied at the International School of Paphos until June 2012. For three years, I took additional art lessons in Paphos with artist, Mandy Bunn, and for one year with artist Jonathan Hollowell.

This website presents a collection of my artwork from 2008 to 2013. It contains finished pieces, projects, self-initiated projects and work in progress. Also included are preliminary studies, and the final examination pieces for my Art IGCSE, AS and A2 level examinations.

I have recently completed my Foundation Year at The Arts University Bournemouth, 2012/13, achieving a Distinction. Projects from my Foundation Year are presented on the website, including my Final Major Project, for which I was awarded the Principal’s prize for Best in Show at the 2013 Summer Exhibition.

Unfortunately, at school, not many people took A Level art. The Foundation Course at the Arts University Bournemouth was a great environment to work in, full of artists, to discuss ideas and be inspired.

I wanted to take a foundation course as I hadn’t had much experience of other ways of making and experimenting in art – for example, sculpture and printing. Because I like so many aspects of art, I hoped the foundation course would help guide me in the right direction. I like a variety of styles and contexts, and particularly enjoy illustration. I’m a fan of Arthur Rackham, and I did a homage to him (Alice in Wonderland) in my AS level exam. I love the period in which Rackham worked. I also like portraiture and figurative painting. I admire Lucien Freud’s work and tried to capture his ‘paint made flesh’ style in one of my AS level pieces.

I enjoy creating work that presents a message, a story, and a narrative. At the same time, creating conceptual work comes very naturally to me. The foundation course gave me the freedom to work with ideas and be more experimental.

I have gained a place on the BA Illustration Course at the Arts University Bournemouth. I’m excited by the progressive slant of the course, and the potential to ‘blur the boundaries’ between fine art and illustration. I’m inspired by the traditional, classical forms of illustration, which was the context for my Final Major Project – a series of ink illustrations for a fairy tale. But I still feel a connection to fine art, and would like to move between both fields in the future.

At the moment, I don’t have a particular medium of choice. I need to do more work with oils. I started a large oil painting recently, and I really loved the medium. I like using coloured pencil. I saw a Chuck Close painting and it inspired me to make a photo-realistic self-portrait (a final piece for my AS level art exam). I used coloured pencil, and I’m really happy with the result. I believe coloured pencil is a much-underrated medium. I work with watercolour, pencil, acrylic, coloured pencil, ink, gouache, pastels, charcoal, and oil. For the A2 exam, I made one piece using a graphics tablet. For now, I’m happy to work with as many media as possible. I’m sure, as I develop, I will settle on one medium in particular.

I feel art is a part of me. It makes me smile when I’m referred to as ‘Abby the Artist.’ If I had to describe myself, the first thing I would want to be able to say is: ‘I am an artist.’

My influences and inspirations are many and varied. Some examples are, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, David Hockney, Frida Khalo, Vincent Van Gogh, Chuck Close, Lucien Freud, Arthur Rackham … and the list goes on. It’s sad to think Egon Schiele died so young (28 years old). But it’s wonderful he left such a great body of work. I often think about the work he would’ve done, and we won’t see. Perhaps, that’s the same with Van Gogh. I suppose, it’s the commitment, the work rate, and the passion of this type of artist that inspires me. Also, I ask myself, did they care what others thought? They did what they did and, I suspect, they weren’t too concerned by the opinions of others. That’s something I need to work on. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but since I’ve been at AUB, I’ve been able to let others see my sketchbooks – where things can be looser and more experimental.

I’m looking forward to working with other artists. It would be great to collaborate in a project. I think, as talented as any person may be, it’s important to add ‘hard work’, ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’.

Art is exciting in that I don’t know where it might take me. Primarily, I want to spend my working life doing something I love. If I can achieve that, I will consider it a success. If people then like what I do, and I can ‘be seen’, that would be perfect.

A teacher asked me where I see myself in five or ten year’s time. That’s always a tough question, because life has a way of taking you somewhere else (I never imagined I would live in Cyprus). I have had the ambition to write and illustrate my own book for some time, and accomplished this ambition in my Final Major Project. I created a fairy tale book complete with a series of ink illustration. So far, several people have bought the book through my website, but my dream would be to publish it professionally. A graphic novel is next on my list! The style of graphic novel would be like Art Spiegelman’s Maus or Daniel Clowes’ Ghostworld – not a ‘superhero’ story. I would also like to work with a classic, like Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Rings. I could imagine myself as a portrait artist as I like painting and drawing people. I have a dream of seeing one of my paintings in the National Portrait Gallery.

I think there is ‘the art’ and, then there is ‘the artist’. If an artist is successful, at some point in their life, the art becomes the artist and the artist becomes the art. As Picasso said, ‘I was a painter, and became Picasso.’ Only when I become my art and my art becomes me, will I consider myself a complete success.

I would like to encourage people to view without prejudgment and assumption. I think you can play with the viewer – often leading them to assume something, and then challenging that assumption. This is what makes people see things anew. For instance, Banksy’s work plays with perceptions and assumptions. I like art that does that. I suppose I want people to look a little longer, and a little harder. I also like symbols in art. I did a self-portrait in the style of Frida Kahlo, and I like her use of symbols. I think these ideas and thoughts will all marinate and resurface as my style develops.

I also love surrealism and surrealist humour, especially in performance. Even as a child, I enjoyed the surreal or the ‘out of the ordinary’ – things that would spark the imagination of a passer-by, take them away from the mundane, change their day. I’d like to return to this child-hood joy in future art.

I don’t know if ideas need to be readily conveyed. Perhaps, its better if ideas work slowly on someone for more lasting and changing effect. Maybe, if someone can’t see a message straight away, but they are left pondering, that’s better. I often think a good film is one you are still thinking about the next day. That has to be the same with any piece of art.

Despite my parents saying, ‘Be confident. Believe in yourself!’ I still have issues of self-confidence. I tend not to believe people when they say a piece of my art is good. I’m quiet and shy by nature, and people can often confuse this with something else (maybe aloofness?). I realise, to be successful, I need to be more confident. This is something I’m working on. I think I’m improving!

I admire any art that’s successful in conveying an idea or concept. I think art works best when it connects on an emotional level. If I can connect emotionally with the viewer, I will have succeeded.

My greatest strength is that I can focus for long periods. I work long and hard when I have to. I have a good eye when mixing colour. I am comfortable in most media. I can study other artists and can often see how they did things. I worked for hours until I worked out how Schiele created those marks on the flesh of his models. My main weakness is, I can get frustrated, and, instead of stepping away and coming back another time with a fresh eye, I tend to carry on.

I am satisfied with my progress so far: I’ve been lucky enough to have sold some work. I’ve put together this website. I’ve been featured on my school website and two local newspapers. I’m happy with my IGCSE (A*) and AS/A2 (A*) results. I’m proud to have achieved The Highest Mark in the World for my CIE A Level Art exam. The foundation year at AUB has been a great experience, and I’m excited about starting the BA Illustration course there in September. I can see my style is developing, and I’m very pleased about that.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoy my work!

Abby Hope Skinner


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