Fiona Stephenson pinup artist
Fiona is an internationally-recognised pinup artist who sells her work all over the world amongst whom are celebrity devotees including model Bernie Dexter
"I sell Gil Elvgren tribute art as well as my own original pinups. All my work is 24" x 30", oil paint on stretched canvas."
As well as original commissions, Roundup Records sells prints for her at Americana-type shows in the U.K.
It’s a long way from Barnsley in South Yorkshire to San Diego. But that’s where comic artist Fiona Stephenson fell in love with the pinup art of Gil Elvgren at a comic convention. Now, several years later, Fiona is an internationally-recognised pinup artist who sells her work all over the world to devotees including Steve Niles, author of the vampire film, 30 Days of Night, Californian corset model Bernie Dexter who owns Maid in Heaven, a painting which Fiona based on her, and a couple who live in a stately home in Nottingham and commissioned two paintings for their vast bathroom. Not bad for an artist who used to give away her paintings to friends as gifts.
“I became interested in comic art after I met my future husband, comic artist Dean Ormston in the 1980s,“ says Fiona, who is in her early forties, “I then worked for Warhammer 40,000 and D.C comics as a letterer and colourist. After I fell in love with the work of Gil Elvgren, I decided I wanted to be a painter and began teaching myself to oil paint by copying his art.
Fiona originally trained at Harrow School of Art to be an illustrator, and briefly worked for television and magazines. She gains great satisfaction from the work that she does, and enjoys the fact that is a truly female-friendly genre. "I love the playful quality of pinup,” she says. "A lot of my buyers are women because they like the sexy but not sleazy style. It seems this genre is driven by women, from the Burlesque dancers to artists like myself."
She believes that the pinup genre crosses a lot of markets. “I still attend international comic conventions,“ she says. “The artists and writers at these events appreciate the skill involved in oil-painting as well as the cheeky, comic element of 'cheese cake'.”
In 2009 Fiona ventured into the erotic market. “I always thought my work too tame to be considered erotic,” she says. “However Nuts for You – an image of a girl on a bench, has been chosen to go in the World's Best Erotic Art Today III and the same painting toured the USA in the ARTundressed Tour.”
She says that the most difficult thing about her work is getting models with a certain look. ”I always work from photos and have mostly painted Bernie Dexter,” she explains. “I'm always on the look out for women with the 'right' look. A pinup model should be cute, not too thin, and be happy - there's a joy in pinup art!”
Says Fiona in an interview on Gil Elvgren and his influence on her work:
"I originally started to copy Elvgren's art to learn how to get those amazing colours and light, I still sell Elvgren tribute paintings from my website, quite a few of his paintings were destroyed in the 50's and the original's can cost £200,000, mine are more affordable. The first painting I did took months, even though I'd been to art collage, I'd never used oil paint before so had to learn the skill, achieving the 'Elvgren' skin tones was particularly difficult. Painting the stockings is another challenge, to achieve the sheer silky quality covering the leg can have me tearing at my hair but the sense of achievement is incredible when I get it right.
"When painting one of my original pieces I attempt to get the Elvgren playfulness, I try to create a little story so it isn't just a portrait of a pretty girl. The ideal pin up girl should be happy and full of fun, a bit mischievous, with lots of expression to her face, revealing her stockings and underwear should be purely accidental and never crude. Some models are perfect for this genre, Right Fit, Bear Behind and Maid in Heaven are based on the beautiful Bernie Dexter, she's a natural with her huge smile and large eyes. I gave Bernie the Maid in Heaven' painting as a gift for inspiring me, she's a lovely person. I'm hoping my next muse is going to be someone like Missy Malone or Paloma Faith, I've also considered approaching Lily Allen, they all have the 'look'.
"I think it's great that over half my buyers are women, they love the sexy but not sleazy style of pin up, the 50's was a time when women looked shapely and self assured with their assets, I think some women find this empowering. When Andy from Stockings & Romance approached me with a proposal to put my artwork, on a corset, I jumped at the chance, I thought it was a fantastic idea! it's such a great thing to do, Andy explained where it would be on the garment so I kept the image simple, anything too detailed wouldn't have shown up at that size. I'm very pleased with the results with High Stepper becoming the work in question and hope women enjoy wearing the lingerie with the artwork of a woman wearing the lingerie!"
Says Fiona: "I am an English artist specialising in hand-painted oil on canvas reproductions of Pin-Up artist, Gil Elvgren. If you have a favourite Elvgren, I accept commissions, please email me to discuss your requirements."