Ella Sienna, the gifted painter behind our Blooming Petal scarf, speaks with us about her creative process and artistic career.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: My biggest inspiration has always been the natural world. I love painting botanicals, butterflies, beetles, and animals. I could spend my life painting butterflies and never run out of species.
There are also so many inspiring places. I was in the Netherlands when Sarah Flint first sent over the mood board for this project, and you couldn’t ask to be somewhere with a richer source of flower inspiration.
Q: What would you like us to know about your creative process?
A: It’s a lot messier than you’d think! The finished painting really is the tip of an iceberg. There are so many experimental drafts that will never see the light of day. Finding inspiration isn’t a mechanical process—sometimes it arrives easily, other times it needs a lot more effort to tease it out.
I think I went through five or six iterations of this design before it even touched watercolor paper. The untidy preliminary pencil sketches and reems of color swatches are incredibly important in creating a cohesive finished design, and inevitably along the way my wastepaper bin overflows until the alchemy happens. It’s all part of the process. A lot of budding artists look at my work and only see the finished painting and it looks intimidating, but only because the chaotic part happens off camera!
Q: How did you get your start in this field?
A: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was an Art Scholar in high school, but instead of going to art college, I read English at Cambridge University. I was inspired to get involved in the fantastic university theatre scene, and created over thirty posters and publicity materials for plays and musical performances.
When I graduated, I worked for the Saatchi Gallery in London on one of their most successful shows, and later had a job as a commercial portrait photographer. All the while I was painting and drawing, finding my style and building my confidence as a painter. I’m really grateful that I had the time to develop my voice as an artist before jumping in, and all of the of experiences I had along the way really informed the way I grew my art.
Q: How would you describe your signature style?
A: Detail orientated! My individual style of painting has shifted and developed substantially over time. Some of it has been aiming for a particular look, and part of it has been just allowing myself the freedom to enjoy painting. The one thing that has run through everything has been that I’ve loved the little details. If I can add a small detail in, I will.
Q: What is your favorite detail of the Blooming Petal scarf?
A: The wonderful thing about seeing your work in a different format is that it feels like it reintroduces you to your own painting. While I was painting it, I would have said my favorite part was the tulips—it was beyond satisfying to paint those red stripes. When I saw the scarf in person, though, I absolutely fell in love with the pansies.
Q: What was it like working with Sarah on this project?
A: As an artist, you really hope for the dream commission where you love the client’s energy, and where receiving the perfect mood board is an air-punch moment. That was absolutely this commission. From our first conversation, I felt as though it was a natural fit to work with Sarah—she was very directed in what she was looking for while leaving me creative room to play with the brief. You need to be inspired to work with your clients, because the work itself is so personal and you want to entrust your finished painting to people who will really love it too.