Fiona Debell is an abstract artist based in Toronto, ON. Her abstract art can be described as “big, bold and elemental’. Scroll down to learn about Fiona and see more from her latest collection called ‘Reciprocity’.
Toronto Artist Fiona Debell
How would you describe your artistic style?
What’s the main inspiration for your art?
Each work is based on my interpretation of human relationships, breaking them down into simplified elements to create a visual story. Through reductive, composition, the beauty in the world around us becomes clearer to me.
What is the biggest goal you try to achieve with your art?
I always want to illicit a reaction in the viewer. My mantra is ‘Art That Makes You Feel’ and I live by that. My ultimate goal is to bring joy to your life through the work that I create. I believe that sometimes words fail to fully express the emotions that we feel, but my art is able to speak to those deep-seated feelings and connect with the viewer.
What’s your favourite thing about being an abstract artist?
Great question! Standing in front a fresh canvas, chalk in hand and making the first sketch mark. I feel so full of possibilities and hope for what I will create.
Why abstract art and not other mediums? Have you always created abstract art or did you start out creating other styles?
As an abstract artist, I’m drawn to the infinite possibilities of expressing emotions and ideas through colour, form, and texture without the constraints of the representational world. For me, it’s a freeing experience to explore the interplay of different elements, experiment with techniques, and create unique compositions that convey varying meanings to each viewer.
While I appreciate other mediums and styles, abstract art speaks to me in a way that other forms cannot. I believe that abstraction allows for a more personal and intuitive response from the viewer, as it invites them to engage with the artwork on a deeper, more emotional level.
I didn’t always create abstract art – my journey began with experimentation across various styles and techniques. However, I eventually discovered that abstraction was the most natural way for me to express myself as an artist. Over the years, through dedicated practice and exploration, I’ve developed my own unique style and approach to creating abstract art that continues to evolve to this day.
What’s one thing people might not know about you and/or your art journey so far?
When I was 18, I visited the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern and had a profound emotional reaction. That inspired my passion for creating expressive art. The vivid colours and shapes interacted with each other in a way that spoke to me deeply, and I felt compelled to create my own art in an effort to evoke similar feelings in others. Since then, I’ve been on a journey of artistic discovery, constantly exploring new techniques and styles. The experience at the Tate Modern ignited a fire within me that has continued to burn brightly, driving me to create meaningful and emotive art that resonates with others.
How has your art journey progressed?
From almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, I knew I wanted to be an artist. However, life and advice from others led me down a different path, and I ended up pursuing a law degree and working in business for many years. Despite the detour, my passion for art never waned, and eventually, I decided to make a career change and become a full-time artist.
While my path to becoming an artist was not straightforward, I believe that my experience in business has been invaluable. It has given me a unique perspective on the art world and allowed me to approach my work with a business mindset. I understand the importance of marketing and branding, and I’m always looking for ways to grow my business while staying true to my artistic vision.
Even though I didn’t pursue art right away, I’m grateful for the detours that brought me to where I am today. It’s been a challenging but rewarding journey, and I’m excited to continue to grow and evolve as an artist.
In your opinion, what’s the most important personal characteristic needed to embark on a career as an artist?
I believe that one of the most important personal characteristics is resilience. Pursuing a career in the arts can be a challenging and often unpredictable journey. There will be times when your work is not well received, when you face rejection, or when you struggle to make ends meet. It’s important to be able to bounce back from setbacks and to have the mental fortitude to keep pushing forward, even when things are tough.
I also believe that a willingness to take risks is essential. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and determination to become a full time working artist. Having a deep love for what you do is what will keep you going when the going gets tough.
Of course, everyone’s path to becoming an artist is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, in my experience, resilience, passion, self-discipline, and a willingness to take risks are all essential characteristics for anyone pursuing a career in the arts.
What advice would you give up and coming abstract artists?
As a fairly established abstract artist, my advice to up and coming artists would be to trust your instincts and take risks in your work. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and materials, and allow yourself the freedom to create without worrying about the end result.
It’s also important to be persistent and committed to your art, even when faced with challenges and setbacks. Developing good habits and routines, such as setting aside dedicated time for creating and setting realistic goals for yourself, can help you stay on track and make progress in your work.
Networking and building relationships within the art community can also be incredibly beneficial. Attend exhibitions, connect with other artists and industry professionals, and participate in local art events and shows to get your work seen and build a supportive community around you.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to stay true to yourself and your unique artistic vision. Trust in your own voice and keep pushing yourself to grow and evolve.
Do you have any favourite podcasts or books that you love and that have contributed to your journey as an artist?
Ugh…do I have to answer this question? I find inspiration in many places, including podcasts and books. One of my favourite books is “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson, which has helped me to focus on what’s really important in my life and career. As for podcasts, I enjoy “Pivot” and “SmartLess,” which offer valuable insights and perspectives on a range of topics.
What’s your most fulfilling and enjoyable experience as an artist so far?
In terms of individual moments, it has to be receiving the acceptance to the 2022 Artist Project in Toronto. When I received the news, I was ecstatic – it was a pivotal moment in my career. Being accepted to this juried show, which is arguably the most prestigious and important artist event in Canada, was a huge validation of my work and a confirmation that I was on the right path as an artist.
Where do you see yourself and your art in 5 years?
It’s difficult to predict where I’ll be and how my art will progress in the next five years. However, I have a dream of having a large, light-filled studio where I can create massive artworks on a daily basis. As for my art, it’s an organic process, and I am excited to see how it will evolve over time. Regardless of where I am in five years, the most important thing for me is that I continue to enjoy my work and am able to sustain a living from it.
What do you love most about abstract art?
Do you have any favourite quotes?
Anything else you’d like to include?
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Toronto abstract artist, Fiona Debell.