Stella Winter, (b.1999), in Mainz, Germany. Art did not play too big a role in her life before the pandemic, so after highschool she decided to study American Studies and Film Studies for the time being, but soon realized that this was not the right fit for her.
Even though her passion for painting started at an early age, it didn’t really work out until Covid-19, and the first lockdown happened. She started out in various different areas, such as creating acrylic abstract and landscape paintings. But it was the oil paintings of figurative and commonplace objects, where Stella found the most reference. She finds the motifs in the simple moments of the lives of her fellow human beings, which she initially captures in digital form – and turned into playful scenarios with oil paint on canvases or mixed media paper.
For more information about Stella, check out her Instagram.
Hi Stella, thank you for sitting down with me. First question, and I always ask this. How does a regular day look like for you in Mainz, Germany?
Hi Ruben, thank you for doing this with me! These days I usually get up around 8, get myself ready, eat, and head to the studio. I will be back at university this upcoming semester tho, so this will probably change. I usually meet up with friends later in the day.
So when did you start to draw and evolve into painting?
Drawing was something I did from a very early age on. I vividly remember starting to paint when I was twelve. There was a long period of time, when I was a teenager, where I did not paint at all. I picked it back up when I finished school and Covid started. This is also the time I started to paint with oil colors.
You started showcasing your paintings on TicToc and Instagram during a Covid lockdown and they went viral shortly after. That must have been a trippy experience, being in lockdown while your art is going viral. Talk to me a little bit about that experience.
It honestly feels like a feverdream looking back at the year 2022. I enjoyed every second of it and am very thankful to every door that opened because of that. The Internet is a weird place.
For the readers that might want to know. Exactly which piece was it that got the most love?
I think it was the piece where I painted six of my friends and I, looking down in a circle. But talking about my more recent work, it has to be the one with the dogs called “Girls Night (Interlude)”.
The protagonists in your paintings are often people in different situations, as well as regular stills of different objects in various places. Who are those people? And what makes something like objects on a table worthy of gracing one of your canvases?
Love that question. The people in my paintings are almost always my closest friends, and if not them, then I like to include movie characters. The objects I paint are related to my friend group and can most likely all be found at the spot we hang out the most.
I like to find commonplace objects or people in situations that almost seem to obvious, normal, or simple to deserve any attention. I hope this makes sense.
Got it.. so when you first start on a new canvas, do you already know what you’re going to paint?
Yes. Or I at least have a rough idea about what I definitely want to be on there. I take most of my reference pictures myself. Although I try not to limit myself too much, I like to keep the process as fluid as possible.
Staying on the subject. Details are a huge part of your paintings. Have you always been detail oriented? And where do you think your attention to details come from?
I never thought of myself as a detailed oriented person but I guess I don’t like things to be simple. I haven’t noticed that until developing my art style further. I seem to have a desire to impress myself which, in my books, somehow means making a painting as detailed as possible.
Would you consider yourself an overthinker?
Yes. But not always in an unhealthy self-destructive kind of way and also not with everything I do. Maybe just with the things I’m supposed to be good at.
You have an interesting point of view to your paintings, and like to use bird and frog eye-view, as well as closeups. Talk to me a little bit about your journey to developing your current POV style. And what it is about that look that appeals to you.
Thank you! Finding your style is a concept I have not fully grasped yet and I´m sure and hope that mine will continue to change and evolve. Right now, I enjoy playing with perspectives and different canvas sizes, but I think that’s part of me still trying things out. I also would love to do more storytelling with my paintings, which can be achieved through perspective. I love that I get to decide which part the viewer gets to play and how much they are involved while looking at a painting.
Could you elaborate what you mean by implementing more storytelling? And now that I think about it, I forgot to add cartoons. There’s definately a cartoonish element to your paintings. Where does that come from? Did you grow up watching or reading cartoons. What’s the story there?
When I look at art I love to see something I can make up a story for. I would love for people to have the same approach when looking at my art.
Ok, so your talent for painting is obvious. But I am curious. Being that you became known in the online art community “over night”, your presence was still solely online. Talk to me a little bit about your journey from social media to the more traditional art scene, with galleries and such. And how has that transition been like?
Thank you so much. At the beginning of last year, I knew nothing about the art community. I am incredibly lucky that my current gallerist found me through social media and almost immediately brought me and my work out to Berlin. I used to think that it did not matter where you are located in the world because social media breaks that barrier for you of having to be somewhere in person. Although that’s not necessarily wrong it’s also not necessarily right. The traditional art scene is still very keen on networking in real life which I can appreciate.
With that in mind. Any upcoming exhibitions in sight?
Yes! I have a solo exhibition coming up in July in Frankfurt which I’m super excited about. Working on the paintings right now.
Plug it. Where is it?
The Vernissage is going to be the 7.7. in Frankfurt, Germany at Galerie Greulich. The exhibition will last until the 11.8.23
Ok, so what do you hope that we, the observers take with us after viewing your paintings?
The Beauty about art is that everybody gets to have their own valid opinion. I love hearing different interpretations and evoke some sort of emotion no matter what that’s going to look like. I don’t think the observer needs to hear my take on the painting.
What are some of the most essential things you have to have with you in the studio? It could be anything, music, objects etc..
Definitely music! Also, clothes that can get dirty and my laptop. I would say these are my top essentials. I can’t do anything without listening to music and my laptop always has my current reference.
Perfect segway for a question that I’m always super curious about. What song are you listening to the most right now?
I’ve been listening to “LVL” by Asap and “Love” by Daughter a lot. Honorable mention to “Talk” by Beabadoobee tho, apparently, I listened to that track 269times last year.
How would you describe a perfect day?
All of my close friends and I make it to the beach in Italy I basically grew up at. My gallerist calls to tell me Frank Ocean just bought one of my paintings and wants to meet the artist. We end the day at the appartement we always hang out at and make sushi together. I head home and my bed is freshly made.
What motivates you and where do you find inspiration for your paintings?
I think I am able to find inspiration anywhere. There is nothing I appreciate more than spending time with my friends and I somehow found a way where I can capture that and our lifestyle in a way where other people appreciate looking at it and relating to it as well. I get motivated by other creative people, music, going places.
If you lived in the 1600s, what do you think you would be doing?
Literally die. I can’t even pee outdoors and women aren’t even close to having rights. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to say that no matter where I am, if there is paint and brushes, I will paint regardless the circumstances, but the 1600s really don’t do it for me lol.
What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?
I could talk about movies for hours so I try and keep it short. I either love a good plot twist or movies where we just get to watch a slice of the protagonist’s life and nothing really happens.
Waves- best soundtrack, the colors!!!, 2 movies in one
Mona Lisa´s smile- strong cast of women
The good will hunting- self-explanatory
Lady bird- Slice of Life kinda Movie
Fight club- again, self-explanatory
The Butterfly Effect
Ok Stella. Last question. And this is a tricky one 😀 Let’s say Covid never happened. What would you be doing today? Would you be painting?
Right before Covid happened I started studying American Studies and Movie Science and to be honest, I would have probably finished that. I think I would still be painting but not in the way the last year allowed me to do. But then again, I do like to believe that everything happens for a reason and that people end up where they are supposed to, so who knows, right?