This week I was approached by Eve ( aged 10 ) a local student who is doing a school project about my work during lockdown. Firstly I feel honoured that she has chosen my work to study, so it was a pleasure to answer her questions. I thought it might be nice to share my answers with you lovely followers too.
At school did you want to be an artist?
Yes, definitely it was the main thing I was good at! At primary school I used to spend hours drawing pictures to go with a story that I had only spent about five minutes writing. I always achieved better in the creative subjects. When I was at middle school I enjoyed textiles and I was the only girl who opted to do the Craft Design and Technology class. By the time I got to High School I was inspired by a former student who came back from art college to show the sixth form her portfolio of work. It was at that point I thought I could do that and knew that I wanted to study art further. My only doubt was the uncertainty of the job at the end of it, so if that failed my other option was to retrain as a P.E. teacher!
This is one of my paintings from reception at Norham Primary School.
Did someone teach you your style or did you develop it yourself?
I went to art school and specialised in printed textile design where there was a really strong focus on drawing and sketch book development. The four years on my course gave me time to experiment with drawing and mark making, begin to develop a style and it's been evolving ever since. Being an artist is a journey. When I look back at my work I can see how it has changed even in the last 5 years. How I paint now came from a lot of trial and error until I found a style that I liked and also that other people liked.
What made you focus your art on the beach/sea?
I've always lived close to the the sea and spent most of thy childhood summer holidays on Cocklawburn beach near Berwick, or Alnmouth beach with my grandparents. So I think that was my starting point. I like the idea that my paintings recreating a happy memory of a coastal holiday or family time that people can engage with. My favourite colour is also blue!
At school were you already a good artist?
Well I thought I was great at school until I went to art college and quickly realised there were hundreds of students there all with an amazing talent so that brought me back down to earth!
If not, did you take classes or did you practise by yourself?
I didn't take any extra classes, to be honest I found formal art teaching of drawing an apple and still life quite boring. It has its place but I preferred to experiment a bit more with art in my own time.
Which exhibition (that is not your work) did you like best? And why?
Ooh good question, I haven't been to an exhibition for a while! I really like arts festivals where you get a mix of painting, printmaking, ceramics and textiles and you get to meet the artists themselves. I also like traditional crafts and folk art. When I studied in Canada as part of my degree one of the most curios pieces I saw was the Maud Lewis House. A charming little cottage painted by a lady who had debilitating arthritis but found art as a way to provide income and express herself. I love the simplicity of her paintings and and nieve style, something that sticks with me today.
What made you interested in art?
I really have no idea. I guess it just gives me great pleasure to create work. I guess if something makes you happy that's a start.
What inspires you?
Most of my inspiration comes from the coast and landscape that I'm familiar with and see every day. I also like to paint places that I go to on holiday as a family where I can capture a memory. Animals and wildlife too, I'd like to do more animals in the future so watch this space.
Have you met any famous artists?
I know a lot of current artists who are doing really well, how famous is famous?
A few years ago I was invited to James Hugonins studio to meet him and see his work. He had recently had an exhibition in the Baltic. The size and scale of his work and the method behind it was mind blowing! So very different to my work but it was a pleasure to appreciate something different.
What made you want to sell your artwork?
Ultimately I wanted to have a creative job and do what I love all day everyday. As these jobs rarely exist you have to make your own path and become self employed.
Once I left art college I tried to make a career as a freelance designer but struggled with it both financially and mentally (the internet was in its infancy and social media didn't exist) so I found it a very isolating profession. I had an agent in New York and an agent in Sheffield selling my work but you only got paid for what sold and some months nothing would sell. I found this very hard. When I moved to Tyneside I decided to change the direction of my work and sell directly to the public through pop up exhibitions and market stalls. I gave it two years to see if I could make a living this way. Luckily and a lot of hard work later I am selling my work through my own gallery and my greetings cards through shops nationwide. It doesn't feel like a job if you like what you do.
Do you think you have improved since you started as a professional artist?
I hope so, the more you practice something the better you get. That goes for anything you do really.
I have learned so much over the years mostly about running a business and how to create paintings that will appeal to others as well as myself.
What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in art?
Get a sketch book, draw and doodle everyday. Draw form life, take inspiration from subjects that you love and gives you pleasure. Don't worry if it goes wrong or it's not perfect, there's always another blank page.