Today I speak with artist Stephi Konstantinou, a painter out of Wolverhampton, England, who originally hails from the island of Cyprus.
Stephi has been creating art from a young age, and, these days, she specializes in a pleasing variety of paintings and artworks.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that as soon as she began to take an interest in art as a precocious youth, teachers and fellow students alike began to take an interest in what she was doing, drawn, as they were, to her for her rare artistic talents.
These various artworks that Stephi has been creating, for many years now, range from ephemeral watercolours of landscapes, which feature romantically rich colour palettes and evoke different moods, to pure abstract works, to representative illustrative works featuring people and animals that show a more whimsical, fun side of life.
Her work is very wide-ranging in terms of style and content, but Stephi is the kind of artist who embraces the freedom within the artistic process, which I feel is evident in her work. To someone who has more self-imposed mental and spiritual shackles, she seems infuriatingly free of such barriers. 🙂
In the art world at large, which is often so serious and snobbish, Stephi is one of the few artists I’ve encountered who seems to draw and paint for the sheer joy of it. She paints what she wants when she wants, and how she wants, yielding some very interesting results.
This is why I was very interested to chat with her, to see what drives such an artist to continue to create. It can’t simply be inspiration and wonder, can it?
In these days of the trying to wring a penny out of every single moment, I was curious to see if behind Stephi’s radiant, smiling countenance was actually the gateway to a blazing furnace of raging ambition.
Here is my little Q&A with Stephi Konstantinou – enjoy!
I read that your dad was a big influence on you artistically. Can you tell me more about him.
My dad was definitely a big influence on my creativity when I was a child. I grew up watching him create stonework and he was also a wood sculptor.
You also mention somewhere that your first art teacher, Marie Constanti, taught you a lot of skills. What would be the most important skills she taught you about art?
Miss Marie Constanti taught me some basic artistic skills, and I progressed from there. The most important thing she taught me, I think, was how to focus, and, most importantly, to create with your heart, rather than with your mind.
You are clearly influenced by nature. What do you think is special about the nature in Cyprus? What is it like there, in terms of geography, and also what is the mood like there around the nature?
I live near a forest, and the trees there bring me great inspiration! In general, Cyprus has very nice greenery everywhere which I find very inspiring.
Also, hearing the birds or the wind blowing while creating is tugs at my creative impulses and leads me on to some new creative journey.
Do you think that politics have any effect on your artwork? Although your art seems to be not about politics that I can tell, I wonder if you feel like some of the political unrest in Cyprus or elsewhere has influenced the way you work at all? Maybe not in style, but perhaps in method?
My artwork is not political, in my opinion. Rather it is simply about letting your imagination see another way to live, and to continue following your dreams.
I would say you have a very romantic style of painting. It comes across in your landscapes and color choices. Would you agree with this label – “romantic”?
Yes, I would say so. I create with my hands moreso than with brushes, as I love the feeling of connecting my hands to the painting directly through the paint itself.
Related question…Are you an idealist? Do you try to see things in a positive way, most of the time? Or are you secretly a nihilist?
I believe through my life experience that I am an idealist. I want to contribute something positive to society and I want to improve the lives of others through my art.
How long have you been in Wolverhampton and how has that affected your artistic style?
I have been in Wolverhampton for 4 years now. The journey there has inspired me and affected my artwork deeply, in both logical and more mysterious ways.
My education as an artist really intensified there. I had my studio in Chapel Ash. Also, I have been participating in different kinds of exhibitions, and even volunteering to work on various murals.
Overall, my artwork has seen a lot of development while I’ve been here.
When it comes to mounting / framing your artwork, how do you do it?
When it comes to framing and mounting my own artwork, I have always done this myself, from chopping the wood for the frames, to stretching the canvases.
Some of your art is in black and white. What materials do you use for that, and why is it some of your art is in black and white?
The black and white work I have done has grown into a sizeable collection by now, and, mainly, it has been inspired by traditional Japanese music.
All of my work has been created using acrylic paints, with some of them having been sold to Japan, while others to private collectors in America and Canada.
Your earlier work seems to have a more cartoon or caricature style. Do you still work in that style?
My earlier work was like this, but it has since changed. I have spent years developing my craft and finding my own style that is a merging of some of the previous incarnations of my art from over the years.
What’s your studio like? Is it organized? Messy?
My studio is tidy sometimes, but it can get a little messy. I am an artist, after all.
Is there an artistic medium you’d like to try sometime which you haven’t tried?
I am always into learning how to use new materials or other new methods, but, at the moment, I’m happy creating with acrylic paints.
When you paint a scene, are you basing it on a picture or just from memory?
Sometimes, I’m basing my work on a particular landscape, or I will mix reality with my imagination, and let the creative moment guide me.
What are your favourite animals? Do you have one particular favourite, and why is that?
My favourite animal? I love all of them, but some I particularly enjoy most are cats, rabbits, and my dog. Honestly, I just have a love for all animals.
Do you see art as having any elements of magic, or are you a hardcore realist who thinks magic and wonder are foolish pastimes?
There are definitely elements of magic in art. Also, I love dancing while creating. I feel like an actress in whatever I do.
You have a way with painting trees. Do you know a lot about trees? For instance, did you know that trees talk to each other?
I tend to paint a lot of trees, as there is something about them make them special to me. Many times I do feel like they are whispering to each other. Sometimes, when I walk amongst them, I feel like I’m going in slow motion and I am filled with a feeling of joy.
How long does it take you to paint a picture, on average?
It can take half an hour, to an hour to finish a work of mine, but there is no set time. It depends on the process and the materials I am using. I like to simply go with the flow.
Do you have a preference between paper or canvas?
Paper is my favourite material at the moment to work on, but you never know when that may change.
When is your next show?
Nothing in this life is certain.