Studio Visit Book Vol. 1

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In the studio with Stacey Billups

Brooklyn-based painter Stacey Billups is best known for depicting Black and Brown women
exploring their passions, experiencing joy, connecting, reflecting on life, or simply resting.
Billups works primarily with the mediums of oil paint and watercolor, and gouache paints. She describes her style as Figurative Expressionism. She finds inspiration in the resilient spirit of women.

Billups has exhibited her work in group exhibitions, most recently in 2022, “More Art Coney Island,” Brooklyn Waterfront Coalition, NY, and “Healing and Hope” at Kente Royal Gallery in New York, and “Small Works 2022 New Beginning” Upstream Gallery, in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. She publicly displayed artworks in 2022 through Arts Gowanus in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the citizenM Hotel in Miami, Florida.
Billups has been featured in publications including Bair, Diane: “Portrait of an Artist,” USA TODAY; Best Years Magazine, August 2020, p. 50-51 and Killens Review of Arts & Letters “THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE, “Fall/Winter 202, VOL.12, NO.1, PORTFOLIO: pg.48-51.

Stacey Billups is a figurative artist who uses a vibrant palette to conceptualize the spirit of her subjects.

In a studio conversation with the artist Stacey Billups where she shares what a day in the studio is like for her, sharing her favorite moments and corner in the studio, and more. Read on to explore more about the interview.

What does a day in the studio look like for you?

A typical day in the studio for me involves warming up by writing in my journal or sketching, organizing my palette, eating a snack or lunch and, then painting for a few hours. I try and listen to my body and take breaks here and there to hydrate and stretch. It also helps me to step away from my work so that I can get a bit of perspective. During my breaks, I sometimes will update my social media accounts or take care of various administrative tasks. I try not to become too distracted by tasks that don’t directly relate to what I’m painting. When I’m ready to call it a day, I clean my brushes and cover up my paint. I used to skip this step but over the years I’ve learned that taking this step helps preserve my brushes and saves my paint. It also feels so much better to come into the studio when I leave my painting table cleaned up and ready to go.

Studio Break Area

What is your favorite memory or incident from your studio?

During the pandemic, my anxiety about the uncertainty of the economy prompted me to give up my studio space. My studio manager was disappointed but understanding of my decision. One day he contacted me and offered me an opportunity to return that was too generous to pass up. I decided to dive back in and take my chances. The day that I moved back into my space was one of the best days of my art career. I was so excited and inspired to be back that I created some of my favorite paintings to date.

There is power in retelling a story from a new perspective.

Can you share three of your favorite works from the past and present?

‘Sunbathers; Enjoying the view’, ‘Depth’, and ‘Beach Day’

How would you describe a dream studio for yourself?

A dream studio for me would include a space with huge windows and a view of the water, preferably a beach.

My artwork provides an opportunity to celebrate and honor parts of a woman’s journey that have too often been left out of the narrative.

What does your studio smell of right now?

I think I have become blind to the smell but I’m sure that anyone who entered my studio would say that it smells of oil paint.

If you get a chance to set up your studio anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The fact that I have a studio in Brooklyn, NY is pretty much a dream come true for me. I guess if I had the opportunity to have a studio anywhere else in the world I think it would be in Italy. I spent a few weeks on the Amalfi coast and I truly felt inspired by the landscape. I loved getting up every day and taking in the breathtaking views. There is something about being near the sea that just makes me want to create art. I would say anywhere near the sea or ocean would be a wonderful alternative to my NYC studio.

What are you currently working on?

Lately, I have been painting some scenes from Martha’s Vineyard, a place that is very dear to my heart. Martha’s Vineyard has a history of being a safe and welcoming place for vacationing African-Americans. This is most likely because Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery. Over the past decade, the island has developed many cultural and artistic experiences and opportunities that celebrate African-American culture. I have been creating a series of paintings that reflect a “slice of life” in Martha’s Vineyard.

How do you organize your space?

Although my studio can get pretty messy. I like to think of my space as “organized chaos”. I will clean up and organize my space between projects or at the beginning of a new season. Staying organized helps me keep track of my supplies so that I’m not wasting as many materials. I have an area where I store my paintings, a corner where I paint, and a little sitting area where I like to write out my ideas, eat or just take a break.

I am interested in bringing to the forefront the moments in my subjects’ lives that center on exploring their passions, experiencing joy, connecting, reflecting on life, or simply resting.

Favorite corner in your studio?

I really like the little break area that I created because it is situated in a way that I can step back and look at where I’m at with a painting that I’m working on. I have a little table where I can write or eat a meal and just relax a bit.

Read more about Stacey Billups on her Website and Instagram.

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