How did you become an artist? (Formal training or another route)?
I studied Foundation level art with a view to taking a Fine Art degree and developing my career in art from there. As it happens, my path took a different turn and I ended up studying Psychology and working in advertising for twenty years. But I always kept a desire to do something with my art and when I eventually got enough space at home to put an easel up, I started painting again. This then became something I ran as a business ‘on the side’ until I decided to take the plunge and quit advertising to go full-time as an artist.
My early formal training was certainly valuable in terms of understanding fundamentals in the practise of art, but the majority of my development as an artist I feel is self-taught.
Tell us a bit about your process and the environment you work in.
I work at home, in a spare room converted into a studio. It’s a little tight for space, but I like to have an environment where I can shut myself away and get into the flow of painting, which it’s perfect for.
My work ranges over different styles and subject matter – from abstract landscapes to quite detailed floral paintings, to commissioned portraiture. I tend to work on one area at a time, taking a few weeks to move forward in one area and then shifting to something different. I like how this allows me to get really into one thing but then keep things fresh and not get too bogged down. I often wonder if I encompass too much variety across what I do, but I really do enjoy being able to approach different things with my art.
What is your current inspiration and which other artists do you admire?
There are two areas that I’m working on at the moment. One is landscape/seascape work, in particular where big skies meet water. I’m inspired by British landscape, in particular the North West coast, which is where I’m originally from. I continually find myself returning to this area in the work I do.
I’ve also returned to painting florals. It must be the summer and the return of flowers to the garden that have inspired me. These pieces can get quite intense in their creation, so I tend to work on them in bursts.
I admire lots of artists across different areas of art. The ones I continually use as reference when working are Tai Shan Schierenberg, Turner and Constable for landscapes, an amazing artist called Marcella Kaspar for florals, and Andrew Salgado and Jenny Saville for their incredible use of paint and colour.
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
My work has become bigger and more ambitious. I like working on a large scale – though it can be tricky in a small studio and when trying to store work at home!
I constantly try to make my work looser and more expressive. My natural mode is to go quite representative and I’d love to be more abstract in what I do. My most recent landscape series does take things into this area more.
I do find a tension when I work between the desire to be ‘free’ and the reward I get from seeing something as well represented and complete – such as a landscape or portrait being recognisable as a particular place or person. I think this tension will define my work forever.
Which piece of equipment is indispensable to you when working?
I do lots of work using a one inch standard decorating brush – nothing fancy just what you’d get from B&Q. Somehow this always becomes a central piece in my array of brushes I apply to any painting.
Of late an indispensable piece of equipment has been a power sander, using it to strip layers of paint back on canvases to reveal the textures underneath. You’ve got to be careful when using it though – I’ve made holes in quite a few canvases now!
If you could have a drink with one artist living or dead, who would it be?
It might be quite an intense drink, but probably Francis Bacon. He’s my favourite artist of all time and I’d love to find out more about his ways of working so I could hope to reproduce some of his amazing passages of paint!
When working is there a particular genre of music or musician that you like to listen to?
Music is absolutely vital to my practice of art. I always listen to music when I work. The style of music varies depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m working on – from classical to post rock and everything in between. I like to listen to brand new music sometimes and also old favourites. But I usually listen to it quite loud, which Anna complains about when she gets back!