In 2013 I ventured into the art world, having previously worked as a full time primary school teacher. Since then I have held a joint exhibition in Worcester Cathedral’s Chapter House, held a yearly open studio as part of Herefordshire Arts Week, exhibited at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate as well as been a regular stall-holder at many local art markets. My work has also been stocked in shops in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Broadway and Hebden Bridge. I was also recently featured in Country Living Magazine’s newsletter after writing about their Build-a-Business Day.
Growing up on the remains of my grandfather’s farm in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside instilled a love of animals in me from an early age. My mum used to pop baby me in the hay rack whilst she was lambing so I ended up talking to sheep before humans! My brother and I were always encouraged to draw, make and be creative. You can see me above sketching in the garden at four years old.
A little bit of magic
I picked up reading very quickly and fell in love with escaping to different worlds and reading about magical talking animals, faeries, witches and wizards. My most treasured possession as a child was my complete Beatrix Potter collection. I would spend hours reading the books, studying the illustrations and even shuffling and reorganising the books into the correct order (I never met her but I think I’ve inherited a little of my librarian paternal grandmother there). I love so many children’s illustrators but Beatrix Potter’s work is the most evocative and biggest inspiration for me.
As I grew older I also discovered the stunningly beautiful illustrations of Arthur Rackham. They are just the quintessential fairy tale images for me. I love the delicate colours and often dark folk tales they portray. I think something within us is drawn to these traditional stories often told in an attempt to give meaning to the unexplained. Stories that have been passed down around fires and over shared meals for generations have a timeless quality to them and are rooted in our deepest desires and fears.
My work is inspired by British folklore and the natural world. I love finding stories about shapeshifting hares or screeching barn owls terrifying passers by in the dead of night. I’m always delighted whenever my lovely customers tell me my work has a magical quality and that they are reminded of childhood stories when they see it.
How I work
I begin each piece by mapping it out in pencil before working over the top with dip pen and Chinese ink, and once this outline is completed, I then build up many layers of dip pen and washes of black ink. Chinese ink is not waterproof, so I have to wait for these layers to dry completely before adding any colour. Following this stage, I then add washes of watercolour to the image, using watercolour pencil to add more detail. Finally, I sometimes use charcoal over the top of the ink and watercolour to add extra depth and texture to the artwork. This process takes days, with each image consisting of at many layers of ink, paint, pencil and charcoal.
You can see a time lapse video of one of my paintings below.