Victoria Manning started her artistic career sketching from real life in her room as a child. This has now blossomed into an Expressionist bouquet of buzzing delight. Victoria’s animated brushstrokes and her use of vivacious colors are formed organically as she allows her surroundings and emotions to guide her around the canvas. She hopes to meld her pure abstract technique with her abstract landscapes all while settling into the art scene in Montreal.
We connected with Victoria on FRONTRUNNER’s online social forum to talk to her about her creative process and more.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Nova Scotia where my obsession with nature started. I was always roaming the woods, swimming in lakes and walking the rugged ocean shores. My childhood was in the Annapolis Valley, I lived in Halifax in my 20’s then moved to Toronto for several years. I recently moved to Montreal to experience the art scene here.
When did you start your art practice?
As a child, if I wasn’t outside, I would spend a lot of my time in my bedroom sketching (realism). I started painting in my 20’s then in 2012 I steered away from Landscapes and Floral Arrangements to painting Abstracts. I found an immediate satisfaction within the Expressionism realm, a great release and a lack of fear. I felt more fierce and free while painting. I am really enjoying the evolution of my work now compared to the confines that I experienced while expressing in a more realistic way.
How do you describe your vision for your work?
I think adventure and pushing personal limits is really important in life. I believe we all have a wild side to some degree and we crave to get out of the mundane that every day living can bring about. I want my work to conjure that imagination and playfulness out of the viewer. I love when people spend a long time ‘finding’ things within the painting, to watch and listen to their interpretation and express what it makes them feel. Most often my travel and living in different countries is expressed in either a blatant use of tropical landscape or a more loose interpretation of various locations I have been to – basically I create a place where the viewer will reminisce about or dream of going to.
How has your work evolved over time?
I now let my feelings overrule the outcome instead of overthinking or planning too much. I realized that my immediate surroundings and the rollercoaster ride of emotions that I allow to flow through me – via whatever choice of tool that is in my hand at that very moment – has a big impact. I tend to go on a larger scale now where in the past I always painted small works. My physical being enjoys the process more and I am able to appreciate the final destination and energy that the painting itself holds.
What are your artistic/creative inspirations?
Love. The love of connecting to a more authentic way of being, the love of nature of course, and the thoughts of falling in love or about past love. My need to travel and immerse myself fully into other cultures. To imagine a world where people come together more to experience life in the truest sense of the word.
Tell me about your process.
Since I enjoy painting on a large scale (more often) I generally paint on raw, loose canvas directly on the wall. The prep of the first layer of gesso is really the beginning of where the excitement starts for me. To all of a sudden have a large white material overwhelmingly in my face, to not have the knowledge of what the outcome is going to be and to let things unfold highly organically – that in itself is an adventure. I guess I must be a bit of an adrenaline junkie and that energy normally comes out very fast, as with most things fueled by adrenaline. I work strong and hard at the canvas, normally a lot of big action movements and then the smaller details come into play later.
Do you think your work has a message? How is it received?
Joy and excitement. Escapism. Normally the bolder bright colours are what draws my Collectors first but then the connection they quickly get from their stimulated imagination is what makes them purchase in the end. I’ve heard many people say they feel an incredibly happy energy literally coming from the painting. This makes sense to me, since as soon as I get in the zone while working, I never feel like I want to be anywhere else. I get lost absorbing the way the colours interact, the loud music playing and yes, the buzz from the wine (wink) so it doesn’t surprise me the viewer feels this way.
What is safe and/or dangerous in terms of experimentation?
I think that many artists, including myself, always fear changing up their overall style from what has been successfully selling. The point, for me, is change, it’s growth as a human being. Expressing my experiences at that moment of my life. I have always been a bit of a nomad and I tend to take a lot of risks, so I like change. I thrive on change but I think the important thing is to still have some cohesion from one series of paintings to the next. If you look at my work and know the actual timeline of creation, you are able to connect how one style evolved into the next.
Where would you like to see your work in 3 years? What goals do you have for your practice?
I really feel this recent move to Montreal is going to have a very interesting effect and I am beyond excited to see where that goes. I do have thoughts of going into a more combined technique of my pure abstractions with my abstract landscapes and that will involve various techniques within one painting so it will take me a bit to refine the process. I feel like I have two fairly different loves happening and I want to melt them together.
Are there other emerging artists you can recommend?
I recently purchased a couple of small works of an old studio mate of mine from a collective I was in back in 2012 in Queen West, Toronto. His name is Tyler Tilley, he has been residing in Bangkok for a little while now, and his new series Creating New Gods The Old Ones Are Useless has given me a great chuckle and nod to this newer style of small paintings he has been doing lately. It is way on another realm of any work that I would do but I enjoy it and the lowbrow representation of what’s happening in today’s crazy little world.
FRONTRUNNER online forum: @vmanning