Ever wondered what was going through the artist's mind when they created the painting or print you love so much? Why that scene, and not another?
Read on and get a little closer!
The Smallholding By Hannah Giffard
I painted this picture of the house and animals for two ladies who had a smallholding. The original painting is about 30 X 24 cm. They loved these little pigmy goats, their bees and their two little scruffy dogs, one of which used to have a habit of poking her tongue out all the time. I went over there one day to photograph the place so that I could try and convey the feeling and atmosphere of it. The house is tucked away in south Norfolk, in a quiet, secluded spot behind the river Waveney.
The Blue Swimmer By Sue Richardson
I love a beach when the sun is going down; the sand is still warm and there are only a few people left, just watching the sea.
I sketched this woman in a blue swimsuit introducing her baby to the sea, standing on the edge of the waves. He was lodged on her hip as women the world over carry their children. It was a very rapid sketch and I added a swim cap as I wanted to keep a clean line between the two of them. I painted it as soon I got back to Cornwall while the image was fresh in my mind.
It’s my favourite painting and the one most commented on. I can still see them.
Rolling On The Rug By Catriona Hall
'Rolling On The Rug' was inspired by my own cat Edward, who is the pretty son of ugly Hamish, my other cat. Both were rescue cats from the appealingly-named village of Dove Holes in Derbyshire, though sadly Dove Holes was once voted the Ugliest Village in Britain.
Edward has taken a while to become less timid but now is more than happy to have his head stroked and then immediately rolls over to bare his tummy. I borrowed this pose for Rolling on the Rug and painted it with the cat's paws in the air. It seemed to cause some anxiety when I hung the picture like this, as a lot of people thought I'd got it upside down. I have hung it both ways now and the jury seems to still be out as to which was looks best, but oddly Edward is completely unconcerned by all of this.
A short sighted lady seeing 'Rolling on the Rug' hung with paws in the air did ask the rather surprising question as to why I'd painted a dead fox!
Robins By The Chapel By Therese Urbanska
When I am in my kitchen doing the washing up, this chapel is what I see every day from the window. It is no longer used, but I have clear memories of seeing the lights on in the evening and hearing the congregation sing hymns that used to drift in through my kitchen window.
I use card to create the shapes of the buildings, and to bring out the windows, doors etc so that they are relieved from the surface of the painting. Once my collage work is dry, I use acrylic paints that are built up in lots of layers. A toothbrush comes in handy too, to create the stars and snow!
Spaniel By Mary Collett
'Spaniel' was the first wood cut that I created on a course at West Dean College in Sussex.
West Dean is an amazing 19th century building which was left in trust as an educational community so that the techniques of craftsmanship can be preserved and taught, whilst new art works can also be created.
Our tutor was Merlyn Chesterman, whose woodcuts I had admired for some time. Amongst other ideas, I had taken with me a full-face black and white photo of a spaniel taken in beautiful light and shade which I had intended to be quite subtle.
I drew the spaniel's head out very roughly and just started to experiment with the cutting - pretty much like I would with lino. I found I really enjoyed the sensation of cutting through the wood. The tools were beautifully sharp and the wood is easy to cut in straight lines.
And so the background, which I was initially going to print black, just disintegrated into a mass of free-form diagonal lines which were very satisfying to cut. This dynamic background also seemed to give the spaniel more life, which seemed rather serendipitous!
Kitty By Tessa Newcomb
Sometimes the stories come to me when I'm painting but sometimes something happens that just has to be painted. In this instance, I was thinking how difficult it was to put up the Christmas tree and decorations on my own when I turned to see the cat had dived into the pile and had come up with tinsel around his neck. He then trailed it round the house as if to say, 'Get on with it'. Christmas had started. Now to dress the tree and get the decorations up before the family arrived!