Shop Talk: Teil Duncan’s Colorful Studio

Written by on April 7, 2014 in Lifestyle, Shop Talk - 9 Comments
Shop Talk: Teil Duncan's Colorful Studio

Every year when spring rolls around, we immediately get the urge to inject some new color and life into our homes. And when it comes to bright, upbeat artwork that perfectly encapsulates the warm weather, look no further than the fabulous Teil Duncan! Teil is an absolutely incredible artist — and her beautiful, inspiring studio is the most welcome breath of fresh air and creative energy!

Images: Natalie Franke
All artwork: Teil Duncan


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  • When did you first fall in love with painting and art?
    I showed an interest in art at a young age, so my mom picked up on that pretty quickly and always had me involved in art class outside of school. As soon as I received affirmation from my high school teacher, I made the decision to chose art as my major in college.

  • How did you decide to make painting your full-time job?
    I never really dreamed of painting full-time because I didn’t think it was possible. After college, I moved to Charleston. This was right in the pit of the economic recession, so I thought my art degree was completely useless. After a year of working odd jobs, I visited Redux Contemporary Art Center. It’s a studio warehouse filled with working artists, classes and exhibitions. There, I discovered a handful of successful young female painters whose careers were soaring. At that moment I changed all of my priorities, quit my job and joined Redux. I spent half my time on a handful of commission jobs, and the other half painting whatever I wanted. With the help of a small loan and consistent time in the studio, the business was completely sustainable after about a year.

  • How would you describe your paintings?
    If my paintings had to fall under an artistic movement, I would place them somewhere in between Fauvism and Impressionism. They are Fauvist because I take realistic subjects and give them a new, unrealistic color palette. I say Impressionism because they are neither highly realistic nor nonobjective abstraction — they’re just an impression of reality. My subjects mostly consist of figures, whether I’ve honed in on one single figure posing nude or painted a long expanse of figures on a beach.

  • You currently live and work in Charleston, SC. How has living in Charleston affected your work?
    A literal answer to this question is that I am painting what is in close proximity to me: a figure model that poses for classes at Redux, and the beach that’s ten minutes away from my house. But Charleston itself would stimulate any artist’s creativity. Its beautiful architecture and deep history, the natural beauty of the marsh, the ocean and giant oak trees with Spanish moss, shopping — and food, of course! The combination of overall sophistication and laid-back ambience is what I’d like to convey in my paintings. I take something classic and sophisticated — like a figure study or a beachscape — and abstract it, and hopefully make it new and fun.

  • What are your favorite parts about living in Charleston? Any go-to places?
    Where do I start!? The food. The amount of charming, delicious restaurants here is overwhelming. It has turned me into a major food snob. Some favorite restaurants are Butcher & Bee, Fig, Trattoria Lucca and Red Drum, to name a few. Some go-to places: Shem Creek, Stars Rooftop, Edmund’s Oast and the Charleston Biergarten. I also love that you can make your own meal from what you catch. Some of my favorite times spent here have been lazy afternoons catching crabs and shrimp, and then coming home to prepare a Low-Country Boil. Lastly, every now and then I like to test the waters and attempt to surf. That’s always exhilarating — once I get past my fear of sharks.

  • Describe your typical day as an artist.
    I wake up early and make a pretty big breakfast. Mornings are my absolute favorite part of the day, so I take breakfast very seriously! I try to read my Bible for about 30 minutes — it’s so crucial for me to have this time of peace and quiet before entering the busyness of the day. I then head to the local art supply store, Artist & Craftsman. Around 10:30 I am in Redux catching up on emails, and then I set up to paint. I paint right beside one of my best friends, the talented Lulie Wallace, whom I love! I see her more than I see any other human — in a good way!

  • What are the biggest challenges and rewards of running your own business?
    Biggest Challenge: A lot of responsibility comes with being your own boss. No one is telling me what to do or where to be, so I sometimes have to muster up some motivation to get work done!

    Biggest Reward: Making my own schedule, by far! It’s really nice to go on a trip when I want, or take off to Georgia and visit my parents for a while.

  • How would you describe your personal style?
    This sounds silly because I’m not great at surfing, but I sure do like to dress like a surfer girl. A surfer girl that knows how to color-block! Mixing different shades of the same hue in my outfit is fun for me.

  • Are you looking forward to any future projects or plans?
    I’d love to do another round of abstracts soon. It’s nice to let loose and just explore shape, line, composition and balance. I also want to do a series of contemporary portraits, while incorporating new patterns and materials.

  • How do you sparkle?
    Good question…I think all people, including myself, “sparkle” when they put others’ needs before their own. This is a daily challenge that I cannot do without Jesus in my life!

  • Emi

    I love her work! I found out about Teil Duncan a while ago by following Lulie Wallace. Thanks for featuring such great people!

  • Arielle Austin

    When I saw that you were featuring an artist, my heart skipped a beat! As an aspiring artist myself, I found this interview really inspiring. Thank you for shining a spotlight on a career/lifestyle that’s a little outside of the norm.

    & thank you for sharing your heart for Christ, Teil. :)

  • Kelly • Fabulous K

    Loving this feature…and that her world is covered in paint. And the colors she uses…gorgeous, all of it!

  • Molly {Dreams in HD}

    wow, teil’s work is absolutely beautiful.
    thank you so much for introducing us to her!

  • Natalie Franke

    I absolutely ADORE Teil and loved photographing her studio! Such a sweet and talented artist!

  • Candice

    What an inspiration you are, Teil! Your heart for creativity and faith is absolutely beautiful!

  • Amira Rahim

    Huge fan of this artist, and her laptop with all the paint speckles is just fabulous! Adored this interview. Thanks!

  • Anne Harwell

    What an inspiring feature! Love Teil’s work and her life focus and attitude as well. How refreshing and inspirational!

  • Patricia Vargas

    I am such a huge fan of her work! The soft yet vibrant colors, and the beach scenes make her paintings so serene.

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