Studio Visit

Clare Dubina’s Abstract + Dreamy Paintings Hero The Female Form

There’s an understated beauty to Clare Dubina’s work, and perhaps that’s because it’s taken her a while to find this style.

The Melbourne-based artist studied printmaking back in Philadelphia, and has worked as a freelance fashion photographer, creative director, retail assistant, and display coordinator before she decided to ‘back herself’ and become a full-time artist in 2021.

The artist’s current work is a culmination of everything she’s done so far, and it’s all about channelling the fluid shapes of the female form.

Christina Karras

Clare Dubina inside her Brunswick studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Clare has been a full-time artist for two years now, after an impressive career across retail, photography and visual merchandising. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She says it’s certainly an unknown and unstable journey to be on, but ‘being able to do what you love is worth making a few sacrifices’. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘My subject matter (since my uni days in 2001) has always been the female form and the shapes she creates, along with the spaces within and between gestures.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She says her sketches usually happen at home, and most of the time in the evenings before heading into the studio, a warehouse divided up for roughly twenty creatives! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I originally was only planning to rent it out the space for three months whilst I worked on a larger sized collection, but have now been there for two years,’ she adds. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I really appreciate the routine of heading into the quiet studio, and the freedom to make a mess and leave it there until the next day without interrupting any creative flow.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘My palettes are created by what I am personally drawn to, which are the warm, earthy and muted tones.’ Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She starts with a very basic sketch of the figurative form, and intuitively layers colours and adjust the composition accordingly as it evolves. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

For her current body of work, she has introduced oil pastels in with existing materials of acrylic and inks to create a bit of depth and texture. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

One of her beautiful completed paintings! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Christina Karras
8th of May 2023

Clare Dubina has been creating art inspired by the female form ‘and the shapes she creates’ since 2001, when she completed her a Bachelor of Fine Arts back in Philadelphia. But for the past 20 years, she’s moved through various creative roles, doing everything but working as a full-time artist – until recently.

‘When I moved to Australia in 2011 and needed a job straight away, I applied to work as a stockroom assistant in a retail shop, purely based on my adoration of their visual merchandising,’ Clare says.

This job quickly paved the way into display coordinator role, where she created paintings and sculptures for the brand’s visual merchandising for almost 10 years.

Then came Covid. ‘I found myself revisiting my old uni sketch books and picking up where I left off from,’ she says. ‘I made the decision to back myself and follow my passion to carve out a career in art.’ Now a full-time artist, she’s found success collaborating with local brands like Viktoria & Woods and Tigmi Trading.

Despite all of the change, Clare’s paintings today still reflect women’s bodies in all their glory. From her Brunswick studio, Clare works with warm, earthy, and muted colours, intuitively layerings colours and adjusting the composition as her work evolves on the canvas.

Alongside art heroes like Edward Weston and Georgia O’Keeffe, Clare says she finds plenty of inspiration in textiles, pottery, and interior designers such as Kelly Wearstler, Arent&Pyke and Flack Studio.

‘I love experimenting and seeing how far I can push my subject matter and manipulate my materials – which most definitely stems from my printmaking background,’ she adds.

‘Even though my style of painting may change, I do always aim to have each series inspire the next so that the underlying narrative is there, no matter how subtle or extreme the shift may be.’ Until she finds the next iteration of her style, we’ll be appreciating the soft blend of colours and textures in Clare’s current dreamy paintings.

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