Artist of the Week – Siobhan McBride

Posted on April 15, 2013 · Posted in Artist of the Week

Salmon Canning 2012, Gouache on paper on panel, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches

Siobhan McBride paintings are tense, anxious and atmospheric. Mainly of interior spaces, her images are on the surface, what seem to be ordinary everyday corners of our lives. However the lighting, objects and the view point, suggest a dark side. We hold our breath, wait and anticipate for ‘something’ to happen.

Mcbride turns the ‘ordinary’ into an apprehensive space, draped in suspense, where we are hesitant, but yet, fixated.

In her own words

Lopez Studio 2012, Gouache on paper on panel, 16 x 20 inches

Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background and how you became an artist.
My name is Siobhan McBride. I was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Queens, NY. I always liked to draw and make things and as I got older I became interested in painting and writing. As an undergraduate I double majored in English and Fine Arts, concentrating on creative prose and painting.

I wasn’t very concerned with plot or if a story made sense, but focused more on describing small moments as precisely as I could. In the stories I wrote, not much happened, and the writing had a meandering feel. My inclinations as a thinker that were difficult or bothersome to follow in writing were more appropriate in painting, in part, because you see all the information at once.

Sometimes it feels like the disparate elements in paintings are descriptions from stories that are forced to live together.

Never While You're Sleeping 2012, Gouache on paper on panel. 11 1/2 x 10 inches

You work a lot with gouache. What do you find most appealing about working with gouache?
I work with acrylic gouache which, unlike traditional gouache, does not reactivate with water after it is dry. This allows me to build a thicker more complex surface with many layers of paint both thick and thin. I love the richness of gouache color and its lovely matte surface. Gouache is best suited to paper. So now I mount paper on panels.

Issues surrounding your work involve interior and exterior, time and space, with a dramatic, and somewhat eerie feel. What is it that has drawn you to this?
I don’t plan out the compositions in advance and the work isn’t specifically about any topic in particular, but yes, there is definitely a consistency of temperament. I often use split compositions and sometimes anomalous insets appear. I started thinking of these splits and insets as different versions of the same thing appearing at the same time. Or the suggestion of a temporal change, a progression, like film frames. Other times they feel like escape routes, hiding spots, portals, or alternate endings.

Mirror 2012, Gouache on paper on panel, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches

Can you please describe the steps involved in creating your works.
There is no real preparatory work for these paintings. I have a large pool of source material that I am constantly poring over, editing, and augmenting. I choose one image or element that I feel is particularly compelling, and add or subtract elements until the painting arrives somewhere.

The compositions are worked out right on the paper and they undergo many transformations. Something may happen, then be eradicated, but even its brief appearance may influence the elements that arrive afterwards. I work, adding and obscuring until the painting reaches a place where I can leave it alone.

What elements do you find most challenging in your work?
Simply being in the studio everyday, facing the work, making decision after decision is the most challenging part. Being open to whatever drifts into my mind, even if it is frightening or ugly, and accepting the residue that might be left on the page.

Reading 2011, Gouache on paper on panel, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches

How has your work grown and progressed in the past decade?
The paintings have become more heavily painted with a more diverse painting language. The lexicon of imagery has expanded. Tape has become indispensable. When I first started working with gouache, everything originated in the landscape, now interiors and more nebulous spaces pervade. Since I started working in gouache the way things look and how they’re built has developed but the temperament remains the same. Color palettes change, usually according to the location and nature of different studio spaces.

What concepts are you currently exploring and what will you embark on next?
That’s a difficult question…the work really isn’t about concepts or topics, more about reaching a particular tone, or rather the concepts are always the same and how I arrive there changes. I think about anxiety a lot, as well as memory, distraction, and different kinds of experience layered on top of one another at the same time, like falling asleep while reading.

Next for me is a solo show in Brooklyn this Winter at NURTURE art. So excited!

Apartments 2009, Gouache on paper, 16 x 12 inches

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Siobhan McBride grew up in Queens, New York, where she continues to live and work.

Since completing her MFA, in Painting, from University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) in 2005, Siobhan has frequently exhibited in the U.S. She has been awarded residencies with the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), Jentel (Banner, WY), Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, NY), the Roswell Artist in Residence Program (Roswell, NM) ,and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program (New York, NY).

All images courtesy of Siobhan McBride  |

For more information on Hong Kong Art Tutoring please contact:
Gail Deayton
Telephone: +852 9722 8353