Q&A: Tahnee Lonsdale

Artists are known for seeing life through their own unique way and our current discovery certainly does just that. Tahnee Lonsdale is the LA-based, London-bred artist who uses her paintbrush to demonstrate a whole host of themes - from femininity to motherhood and self-discovery. Tipped by The Saatchi Gallery in 2012 as one of “tomorrow’s Damien Hirsts”, she has exhibited at Somerset House and even had her work turned into a range of scarves for Matches. Her use of colour and shape got us hooked, and we had to get in touch to pick her brains and find out more…

Had you always seen yourself going into the art world and wanted to be an artist?

Strangely no. It was always writing when I was small. I wrote endless stories and poems. I don’t think I was very good at art. My older sister was an amazing artist and I always assumed that painting was her thing. But then it became apparent that it wasn’t important for a drawing to look like it’s subject, so I suddenly became interested. When a vase of flowers is not expected to look like the vase of flowers, a door opens.

What sorts of themes do you cover in your work?

It used to be imagined narratives with underlying themes of urgency and escape, now the themes have moved towards gender roles, what it is to be a woman and a feminist, domestic life (in all its mundaneness) and ultimately motherhood.

Spread, Tahnee Lonsdale
Spread, Tahnee Lonsdale
Milk and Crackers, Tahnee Lonsdale
Milk and Crackers, Tahnee Lonsdale

We love your use and variation of colour - how would you describe the use of it in your art?

Colour is integral to my work. It’s not an accident that I use so much pink. It is the colour given to us as little girls, it’s the colour of flesh and skin and lips. When babies are born they are little pink balls. And on the flip side there’s blue, a colour I also like to use, and often against the soft, fleshy pink I so love. Blue is a masculine strong colour, cold and in the shadows. I like the juxtaposition of these two colours together. My recent paintings are imbued with a bleached out California feel, so reminiscent of the first moment I touched down in LA for the first time. But often there is not much pre-thought, it is a natural progression not planned before hand, but during the process. Layering colour upon colour until I hit the right tone or shade.

Who are some of your artistic inspirations? Any up-and-comers we should be looking out for?

Since I fell for Instagram I have been opened up to a whole world of undiscovered art. Not necessarily undiscovered by the industry, but by me. There are so many talented artists out there and I feel I’m only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It’s exciting but overwhelming as an artist myself. Some names that come up are Scott Anderson, Jennie Jieun Lee, Ad Minoliti, Jamian Juliano-Villani and Rosson Crow. I could keep reeling names off but that’s pretty dull. I love the classics - Matisse, Bacon and Diebenkorn have been huge inspiration. Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series are monumentally Californian.

Floss, Tahnee Lonsdale
Floss, Tahnee Lonsdale

Would you say your work tells a story? Or is it up to the viewer’s imagination to piece together the story?

I think it’s difficult to unravel the story through just one painting, it’s like looking at a single photograph and trying to work out someone’s life story. It’s looking at a collection, or all my work in chronological order that tells the story. It’s my life unraveling on canvas. From my days as a troubled teenager, the disillusion of early marriage and the anxieties of motherhood. My work has jumped around a lot in terms of themes and styles as I try to find myself and my rhythm. I feel more settled now and I think I know what I’m trying to say, the work has slowed to a pace of understanding, although I’m still searching. This is the story you’ll discover.

What’s the best thing about living in LA?

Definitely the weather. So much piercing blue sky.

And the worst?

Being so far from my family.

Acrylic on canvas, Tahnee Lonsdale
Acrylic on canvas, Tahnee Lonsdale

You’re originally from London? How has this influenced you?

I think my influences come from where I am at the time. While I was in London my work was much more architectural, geometric and ordered. It was like I was boxed in, tightly controlling all sides of my life, there were glimmers of peace and greenery through cracks but I was unable to get there. Since moving to LA it’s like I’m on the other side of these windows, physically I’ve escaped these walls and there is a lot more fluidity in this freedom. But the focus becomes much more about being a woman and a mother, how these roles effect me and my response to them. The colours are also much truer to the LA palette.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a contemporary female artist?

Not being taken seriously. People are always surprised when they see my work, as if they’d been expecting something disappointing. There is also the expectation that you will stop painting once you become a mother, and surprise when you don’t. On the flip side, I think in some ways I’m at an advantage being a woman, there is a huge resource in motherhood. Wherever there is struggle great things happen.

Thanks Tahnee! Check out more of her work here.

Primp, Tahnee Lonsdale
Primp, Tahnee Lonsdale

All images: Tahnee Lonsdale

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. Astrology with Daliah: Capricorn

    As we ease into a new decade, we turn to Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, for a closer look at the ambitious, organised and practical Capricorn.

    More +
  2. The Glasshouse Guide to a Conscious Christmas

    From zero waste wrapping to dropping the turkey from your Christmas dinner, here’s the Glasshouse guide to making your festive season more eco-friendly.

    More +
  3. A Sustainable Department Store, Edition No. 2

    Everything you need to know about Edition No. 2 of A Sustainable Department Store, plus some top tips on how you can shop more sustainably this Christmas from our independent makers.

    More +
  4. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Sagittarius

    As we being to approach the final month of the year, we turn to Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, to tell us more about the free-spirited nature that defines Sagittarius.

    More +
  5. Sustainable Sleep Rituals

    ​From ethically sourced loungewear to low waste makeup removal, we speak to some eco-conscious bloggers about all the ways you can practice good sleep hygiene without harming the planet.

    More +
  6. Masterclass: Air-drying Curls

    Winter has definitely arrived and with it brings a shift in the way we care for our hair. On balmier days we welcome air drying our curly hair, but in the depths of winter this is less appealing. With the help of Glasshouse Salon stylist Tori’s expert advise, we’ve got some tips for achieving a frizz-free curly style throughout the colder months.

    More +
  7. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Scorpio

    As our mornings and evenings get darker and the clocks turn back this weekend, we are entering the beginning of Scorpio season and have once again enlisted the help of Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, to tell us all about this illusive and intriguing sign.

    More +
  8. Gender Neutral Prices

    As we launch a new gender neutral price list that makes hair cuts and colour the same for both men and women, we’re take a look at some of the other industries affected by the so called ‘pink tax’ and why many women end up paying more than men for the same products.

    More +
  9. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Libra

    ​Autumn is officially here and with it comes the beginning of Libra season. Balanced, social and often romantic, Daliah Roth of The Highgate Astrologer helps us delve deeper into the qualities of this sign.

    More +
  10. Hair Trend: Slicked Back

    From Molly Goddard to Roland Mouret, we spotted the slicked back look all over the SS20 catwalks. Though the style may seem more high fashion than everyday, hair that’s swept of the face is surprisingly flattering and easy to achieve. With help from our Senior Stylist Mel, we’ve put together some tips on the bold yet sophisticated trend.

    More +
  11. Plastic-Free Periods

    ​As more and more alternative period products become available, we chat to four real women to hear their experiences transitioning from conventional feminine care to more sustainable and healthy options.

    More +
  12. The Glasshouse Guide to Beauty Recycling

    The rules around recycling can be difficult to decipher most of the time, but recycling our beauty products seems to be an even more confusing area. In celebration of Zero Waste Week, we’ve put together the definitive guide to reusing, recycling, and refilling our bathroom waste.

    More +
  13. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Virgo

    As the summer starts winding down, we’re entering into Virgo season. Practical and humble, we find out more about Virgo’s traits as we continue our Astrology series with Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer.

    More +
  14. Beauty Trend: Orange

    Bold and zesty, orange makeup is having a moment this summer. Whether you’re up for experimenting or are a little more reserved, we’ve got some tips on how to wear the shade in a way that suits you with the help of our in-house makeup artist Emily.

    More +
  15. Amber Rowan by Thea Lovstad

    Despite diversity being more visible than ever, we still wrap a lot of our identity up in our hair. Model and actress Amber Rowan has suffered from alopecia from the age of 15, sharing her journey and the stories of others on her platform, Hair Free Life. We spent a morning with Amber and photographer Thea Lovstad, leaving feeling inspired by what she has to say and her unique beauty.

    More +
  16. Reads: Moon Lists by Leigh Patterson

    ​With a focus on reflection and perspective, Moon Lists is a new workbook from Leigh Patterson designed to guide readers through a series of prompts, lists and questions for a life experienced more deeply. We sat down with Leigh to gain some more insight about the concept and how it relates to self-care.

    More +
Load more posts