Stevyn Llewellyn is an artist who works in multiple mediums including illustration, painting and photography. His most recent work is inspired by Greek mythology and traditional Ukiyo-e art. His illustrations of the human form are distinctively minimal and fluid which captures the fleeting aspects of beauty, evoking a sense of intimacy, movement and grace. The intention of the work is to focus on the emblematic beauty of the human form intermingled with nature, flowing together to create contemporary works with symbolic resonance.
How do you approach creativity? Is it a spontaneous or structured process for you to be creative?
The process involves experimentation with hand painted watercolors and referencing imagery of the human form with the use of photographs or models for reference. In some instances, the original inspiration is from a fleeting idea, a dream or an image which leads itself to the final image. The work emerges from an existing singular concept and builds upon the intended narrative. While some approaches are very methodical and structured, there is a great degree of play involved, depending on the medium used. I find that most of the spontaneity comes from traditional means in painting and experimentation. These ideas can later become more refined and used in other works, or function as standalone pieces.
What do you see as the connection between art and deep changes in our society?
Art can function as a voice of an ideal or to express a certain viewpoint and capture a current moment in time. Art can signify many things and function as a vehicle for change. Art in itself can be revolutionary, since its transcends language and evokes an immediate response from the viewer. My personal aspiration is to have the work evoke timelessness, and I find myself intentionally straying from current trends to attain this. I want to celebrate the beauty of the form and fleeting moments of the natural world and hope to convey this same sensibility in others, and to reference nature’s sanctity and the importance of preserving it.
What do you think art is for?
Art can function as a singular object of beauty, it can also act as a vehicle for evoking emotion, reflection or facilitate change. Art can capture moments in time, or have the ability to become something timeless and revered. Art can also possess layers of meaning and interpretation, and can function as a way of communicating a vision transcendent of language.
How do you feel when you're immersed in your creative process? What is it like?
When I am completely immersed in the work everything else fades away, it becomes a very focused interplay of light and color and being in the moment. While this is an ideal situation, it is admittedly rare, but when the work begins to flow and things come together naturally, it can become a mediative, almost transcendental act. The best comparison I could make is when one is climbing or skiing, the body is so focused on the process, the mind itself becomes more open and new inspiration or insight occurs. In other instances, it is real work, it is the struggles of making mistakes, taking risks, abandoning some ideas and reworking others. It can be repetitive and frustrating as well if things don’t come together, but that is how the best work emerges. It is a matter of putting the time in, and there can be resistance. Sometimes when go hiking, or visit the ocean, I am thinking of works in process, or new concepts that emerge from being in nature. It is something that occupies the mind frequently, as it is aspirational and at times, all-consuming. It is in a way, like being in love.
How did you become interested in art? What influenced you early on?
I have been drawing ever since I was a child, with memories of using old printer paper my father gave me to sketch on. I studied art in high school and later obtained degrees in Painting, Art History, and Graphic Design in college. My most notable inspiration was plein air painting in Aix-en Provence. Visiting the museums in France and in Italy resounded with me profoundly. Having the chance to be immersed in these great massive works energized me to aspire to create large objects of iconic beauty. I professionally worked as a designer for fashion labels in New York for many years, creating textile designs and photographing runway shows and models during Fashion Week. I was able to travel to Egypt and Asia, gaining insight and experience and later moved to Portland.There I became inspired by the sea at the Oregon coast, which has become a source of inspiration for my more recent works.
Who or what is currently inspiring you right now?
I am drawn to Ukiyo-e art, the romantic and symbolic oil paintings from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, specifically John William Waterhouse. I am inspired by the sinuous curves found in Art Nouveau, the movement of water, the wilderness, and the calm solace that nature often can provide. I am inspired by simple moments such as camping by the ocean and watching the sunlight glitter on the waves. With ukiyo-e art, I am very interested in the attention to the ways that clouds and water are rendered, which capture movement in almost symbolic forms. I am intrigued in lines and curves of the female form, which has been dominant in most of my art.
How do you want the viewer to feel when they look at your work?
My aspiration is to create works that have an emotional response, something that can create its own independent presence in a place and radiate motion and tranquility.
Stevyn's Sponsored Cause:
A majority of my work centers on the natural world, in particular, the sea. The ocean can function as an archetypal symbol, something which should be revered with a sense of sanctity, and thus protected and preserved.