Prior to becoming a full-time watercolour artist, I was the financial director of an engineering business that myself and my husband started. Obviously, very different to the art industry, during that period of my life, I had very little time for other interests and pursuits and my love of painting. Furthermore, raising a family took a lot of my time and my passion for painting sat on the back burner and remained unfulfilled. For over twenty years I didn’t pick up a paintbrush which saddened me, however, the desire to paint never left me. It wasn’t until moving home to a beautiful location with stunning views of the rolling landscape of Shropshire that I started to paint again. Further on, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to run an after-school painting club, which I managed for two years, every week. Almost the whole school was attending and seeing the confidence the pupils had in me really spurred me on, in addition to this, it gave me the confidence to finally take the step and pursue the thing I am most passionate about, art.
After twenty years, picking up a paintbrush was a daunting and strange feeling, however, it didn’t take me long to fall back into it. Overall, I am a self-taught watercolour artist. This has been the best way for me to learn and develop my own style and technique as there are no boundaries for me to adhere to. I most adore the luminosity and subtle layers of colour, which I can achieve with watercolour paint and therefore, this is why it is my chosen medium.
IDEAS AND INSPIRATIONS
When people ask me where my ideas and inspiration come from, they are often surprised to hear – anywhere! This could be even whilst I’m doing something simple like the washing up or gardening. Anything can encourage my creativity and I always quickly jot ideas down or complete a small sketch for later. I have a vast collection of sketches that I have yet to turn into finished paintings.
However, in general, I am most inspired by the nature around us. One of my favourite things to do is take long walks in the hills of Shropshire and sketch as I walk. I tend to sketch whatever attracts my attention with the overall aim of re-creating the feeling I had at the time of the sketch. Then I go on to paint the scenes. I love to incorporate all hues into my paintings such as all the colours of a sunset including the orange and purple tones. I particularly enjoy the technical challenges of being a watercolour artist.
In terms of artists whose work I admire, American watercolour artist, Andrew Wyeth is a big inspiration to me. I appreciate the sense of mood he captures in his simple compositions. In addition to this, I enjoy the works of Albrecht Durer. Not only was he technically good in his paintings but he creates beautiful subtle tones which create incredible movement. Overall, in terms of landscape artists, I enjoy the works of Allan Ingham and Helen Attingham. Additionally, I relish the light and dark tones of Turner’s and Caravaggio’s paintings. However, this list of artists I respect could continue for a long time!
FROM SKETCH TO PAINTING
Before I commence with painting, I initially sketch and layout any ideas I have. However, I generally don’t like to ‘waste time’ by analysing things and really would rather proceed with the painting. Although, with watercolour, you can’t afford to make mistakes and you cannot just paint over or scrape mistakes off, such as you could do when painting with oils.
Therefore, after completing an initial, brief sketch in pencil, I make a note of all the white and highlighted areas. Due to my pure watercolour technique, these are to be left unpainted. Leading on from this, I then mix my palettes. This is always with just three colours, red, yellow and blue. I don’t use any white or black pigment in my paintings. As a watercolour artist, I paint from light to dark. First I begin to paint the undertones of colour into my image. Then I keep building layers of watercolour washes. It is important to build up the tones of colour and ensure that the consistency and depth of watercolour pigment is just right. For me, the transparent nature of watercolours is stunning in addition to watching layers of pigments combine to create new beautiful hues.
Every single one of my paintings is a technical challenge that I thrive upon. I tend to work on a painting as a whole and take regular moments to step back and assess my progress. When I feel like I’ve finished a watercolour, I will always leave it for a day or so and come back to it. I will only ever sign my artwork once I happy with it.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
My typical day usually begins with an early start. I am a naturally early riser; however, it could be due to the cuckoo nearby making its morning call. I go for an early morning run four-days a week to get me ready for the day. After replying to emails and dealing with print orders, I make my way down to my studio – which is located at the bottom of my garden. I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have any issues with my morning commute!
No day is the same for me though, it really depends on any specific projects I may have on, including commissions. Some days, I will meet with customers or alternatively, sketch and paint on location. In the evenings, I will do research, plan and organise my sketches. Additionally, the evening time is when I arrange my paper and stretch for the next day of work. This preparation allows me to go straight down to my studio the next morning and start painting. I prefer painting in the natural light, so it is important to utilise as much time as possible.
Whilst painting, I enjoy listening to music, often from playlists that I have created. I will also listen to the radio or a good podcast on occasions. I often become so completely absorbed in my painting that time flies by and I’m generally in the studio until late or when I realise, I’m hungry! I have been known to head back down to the studio after dinner too.
I regularly keep my blog up to date with what I have been up to as I love to share my work and style with others.