STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
You know you’re almost there when you see the funeral homes and St. Ann Catholic Church in Phoenixville.
Abstract painter Siobhan Bedford smiles when she recalls a realtor disclosing that her circa 1928 house on Fourth Avenue was close to a funeral home. It turns out the neighborhood is just the right kind of quiet for her to create.
Bedford’s excited about her home studio being a stop on the Chester County Studio Tour. It’ll be sort of like the big Christmas party she threw last year, except with mostly people she doesn’t know (A different seasonal celebration, the Phoenixville Dogwood Festival, is going on the same weekend as the tour).
“That’s a little scary, but not as scary showing my stuff (in a gallery). It’s like your diary,” she said. “I think I paint because it’s stuff I can’t put into words.”
However, the blog she keeps on www.siobhanbedford.com, offers quite a few words about her artistic process, and the thoughts and feelings of the deeply sensitive person behind those works.
What often involves guided paint spills and drips on canvas, done while sitting on the floor, intuitively becomes a spacey landscape, with swirling shapes that reflect an “energy of emotion.”
One painting, tentatively titled “Above the Fire,” features an otherworldly, ancient-looking tower right out of the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Finding light in dark places is a common motif in Bedford’s work. She finds inspiration in seeds growing into plants and the change of seasons. “I know my work isn’t for everyone … but I feel the people that like my work relate to something inside of them,” she said. “Any time you put something so personal out into the world, you never know how people will react to it.”
Bedford refers to blending colors as “mixing mud,” and her palette is always a white plastic yogurt lid. She discovered the “always clean” look of the lids when she had a job working for Manhattan Bagel.
While working an office job, Bedford found that there was little to no time to paint, and felt she was losing an important part of herself. Almost two years ago, she made the risky move of becoming a full-time artist, and hasn’t looked back.
If you look closely, you may see encaustic personal mandalas that are an ornate stylistic departure from Bedford’s paintings. She reserves those for personal gifts. The artist said she started making them to stay artistically connected while muddling through in the corporate world.