Isabella Innis produces abstract works that are both calculated with studied intent and raw with honesty and freedom to create. Isabella has drawn inspiration from interior design, fashion and music to beckon her creative intuition. The combination of oil stick, charcoal and acrylic in her works is seamless and masterful, as is her use of color. Having painted for 8 years, she hopes to continue to cultivate her artistic talents into a wider audience. Isabella connected with us on our social forum to tell us more about her art.

Where are you from?

I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, but grew up partly in Oxford, England and Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’ve lived in Los Angeles most of my adult life.

When did you start your art practice?

After graduating college in 2012.

How has your work evolved over time?

My practice has returned to pure abstraction after a couple turns trying out variations of figurative work, such as faceless portraiture. With time, I’ve become most interested in pursuing simplicity in my work, though only in an aesthetic sense.

Floating Fantasies, oil stick, charcoal, & acrylic on unprimed canvas, 42″ x 54″

What are your artistic/creative inspirations?

I draw a lot of inspiration from fashion and interior design, compiling mood boards of runway imagery, textiles, furniture, layouts of rooms, etc. Music also plays a role in my inspiration process- I often write down parts of lyrics in my free time and then refer to them prior to painting. I’ve created some series while listening only to one album on repeat- it creates a sort of meditative flow I hope to bring to life in the piece.

Tell me about your process.

I work with abstraction, using mainly oil stick, charcoal, and acrylic. My process involves producing a set of color studies prior to working on canvas. Conceptually, I often make series based on certain people groups or periods in history, so I spend a lot of time reading archived articles and looking through old photographs. I don’t like to plan my work too much though so that my aesthetic stays somewhat raw and unfinished. I find the surprises and unplanned “mistakes” give my work character and allow me to move more freely with the paint.

Major, Minor, Ticking Timer, oil stick, acrylic, charcoal and graphite on canvas, 10″ x 10″

Do you think your work has a message? How is it received?

At times, yes, while other times I would rather it be art for art’s sake. That makes some people uncomfortable when the artist doesn’t assign a particular message to the work, or perhaps a deep enough one, but I find it more genuine to just let it be sometimes. I’ve never been a big fan of supplying a road map for how the viewer is to interpret my work, or an over-thought explanation for why someone should care about what I’ve made. I place a lot of value on intuition. Perhaps that’s why I feel more comfortable with abstraction- it’s easier to hide behind it. Even without an exact subject though, there are times I’ve received feedback that relates closely to the themes I was pursuing. Those moments are very validating.

Before the TV Turned to Color, oil stick, acrylic, charcoal and graphite on canvas, 10″ x 10″

What is safe and/or dangerous in terms of experimentation?

Trying new techniques even if they fail is always safe. Stopping the process of experimentation and getting stuck would be dangerous. I’ve been there. Breaks and travel are important to hit a reset button.

Where would you like to see your work in 3 years? What goals do you have for your practice?

Finding an authentic style that weaves throughout each of my series is a goal. In 3 more years… I hope to be a better painter!! Also to have gained a wider audience for my work.

Are there other emerging artists you can recommend?

Wyatt Mills, Marwan Shahin, Alex Cutler, Lili Jamail, Joseph Warren, Gena Milanesi


FRONTRUNNER online forum: @iinnis
Website: isabellainnis.com
Instagram: @isabellainnis

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