I live in Bristol in a house with an unusually large walled garden, fruit trees and chickens. In this city oasis, my studio is a converted ex-air-raid shelter.
As a child I loved drawing and painting and early on could get a likeness in a portrait, which seems to be why people told me I was good at art. At my first college, Yeovil in Somerset, I found that I loved painting and sculpture and so specialised in Fine Art. I have always enjoyed encouraging others in their art and worked in Community Arts and art teaching, believing that we are all able to ‘do’ art, just given the right encouragement.
As a result I have almost always worked in the arts - youth arts, Playbus community arts and teaching - but I re-started painting again full-time when I was 50 years old. I try to spend 4 to 5 hours a day, 4 days a week, sketching or in the studio.
My first studio was in a friend’s basement room, with a large window onto the garden. We had to clear the room out and paint it before it was habitable. I moved from there to my present studio which was converted from an above ground air-raid shelter. The lower walls are 30cms thick but it has large windows on the north side. The greenery has to be regularly clipped back to keep light levels up!
I sold a painting to a tutor at my first college so was very encouraged by that!! It was a picture of a garden path with backlit washing using fluorescent paint. At my first exhibition, my first sale was a pastel of strawberries in a still life and I still remember the people buying it, very exciting!
In my painting and sketching, I was very moved by experiencing the remains of a devastating Tasmanian bush fire which had affected the area we were visiting. I collected charcoal from the ashes to produce sketches which were stark but felt right.
I love to feel that my artwork has affected people positively and feel that cards are a great way to share art with lots of people.
I often work in pastel on a dark background. By pressing the soft pastel onto the surface rather than smudging, I feel that the pure pigment colour zings, rather like the effect of black leadwork emphasising colours in a stained glass window. I am increasingly using oil paint, enjoying the technique and the freedom it gives, resulting in perhaps a more lyrical style.
I have too many ideas and not enough time in the year. I usually work from sketches as I find that the time spent sketching fixes the image I want to portray in my mind. Photos are an additional prop for any detail I need.
My print prices start at £50 and original oil paints at £300.