Aiste Stancikaite on why she likes to draw in shades of red – and red only
The Lithuanian artist tells us why she opts for a singular palette of “intense, burning red”, and how this adds drama, detail and artificiality to her work.
- Ayla Angelos
- 18 January 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Colour can have a profound impact on any subject, especially when it’s used to build upon what’s already quite a traditional practice – like that of realism in drawing. Such is the case in the work of Aiste Stancikaite, a Lithuanian artist who’s in the process of discovering the effects of using a single tone of coloured pencil.
Aiste always knew she had a “creative gene” in her and decided to follow her interests after attending a friend’s drawing and painting class in art school. Learning that she was quite adept in the field, her passion began to grow and two years later she enrolled on a fine art degree to specialise in painting. “Although my parents weren’t creative, they did always support me in my choices and let me go my own way, which I’m grateful for,” she tells It’s Nice That. “After finishing my studies, I had a long break from art. I picked up a pencil again about five years ago, which is when my creative career really began.”
Post-university, Aiste eased herself back into her practice with simple, miniature and realistic graphite pencil drawings. As time went by, she realised she needed to steer away from conventional realism practices, which is the moment she first began experimenting with different tones of colour – landing on red as her hue of choice from thereon. “The simplicity of this technique brings out the magnitude of that single colour,” she says. “It also allows me to build up the contextual depth of the final image with focus and intention, leaving the distraction of mixing colours aside.” It’s a move that combines real-life proportions with a stylistic drawing approach – the kind that combines classical techniques with the modern – all the while exploring an “intense, burning red colour palette combined with elements of the present day.”
The artist’s home studio is currently where the illustrative magic happens; where she tends to hunker down at her desk from mid-morning up until six that evening. After which, she completely switches off; it’s good to hear of an artist sticking to a strict working routine that enables them to strike a chord between work-life balance, without scarfing on the work at hand. But equally, Aiste has chosen a medium that gives her great freedom when it comes to adapting the working day as and when she pleases.
As for the more technical side of things, her practice is heavily centred on pencil drawing. Recently, though, she’s started to toy with acrylics and will pull references from photography mood boards or photo collages to work out her compositions. “When I have a very clear idea of what I want to create – often in form of a very accurate digital composition to leave as little opportunity for mistakes as possible – I start the drawing,” she says, noting how a piece can take anything from a couple of days to weeks to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the piece.
The process is deliberately slow and intricate. Some might find it long and arduous, but others – like Aiste – see it as a method of love and contemplation. Most of all, it accounts for a high level of technical skill that’s employed to give the work a complicated yet radiating feel. “Someone once described it as stroking the paper with a pencil,” says Aiste. “I tend to move the pencil following the shape of my subject to get that smooth, shiny texture that I hope sets my work apart.”
Throughout her portfolio, you’ll find red-tinted intricacies like no other. Aiste’s ethos revolves around the idea of dismantling the perceptions of reality to then “piece it back together to create a new story”. This means that her natural proportions and theatrical compositions give a subtle hint to reality, before snapping the viewer into a state of dreamlike bliss through the considered styling and monochromatic colour palette. “The red-hued figures in my work present more as alien characters, rather than everyday humans you’d meet on the street – slightly too perfect, almost artificial, strangely unfamiliar.” While some of these characters are in fact based on real-life people, the majority are composed of a blend of different faces and bodies to build new fictional personas.
Aiste’s most recent series Lou is a fine example of this approach, and also marks a turning point for the artist as she has decided to incorporate acrylic paint into her practice. Chosen for the ways in which it intensifies her colours, she admits that she’s still very much in the process of experimenting and refining her work – “I aim to persevere through my current failures!”. But mistakes and experimentation are all parts of this artist’s ever-evolving journey.
Aiste Stancikaite: Lou III (Copyright © Aiste Stancikaite, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.