I love these occasions so much; the relaxed, informal environment means that I have time to spend getting to know you a little and you will have the opportunity to ask me questions about my practice, the commissioning process or my artistic journey.
In case you need more tempting my Mas infamously delicious chocolate brownies will also be available! Do visit if you can, it is always so wonderful to meet people for real.
I met some really inspirational creative humans during an event I hosted here in Devon in April, where we shared skills, feasts and hearts and they had a sneak peek of work that I shall be bringing to these open studios. Below are two of their magical reflections of our days together. Please do open these links and take some time to view their beautiful photographs and read their words
Carpets of bluebells are spreading across the meadows that surround my studio at the moment. These gorgeous blue and white wildflowers are always a sign that spring is here and summer is on its way.
As we near the end of April, I have been looking forward to celebrating Beltane. This festival always reminds me to greet summer with an open heart and embrace the season of growth in my life and in my practice.
The History of Beltane
I always dig deep into my Celtic roots when it comes to celebrating the changing seasons. Beltane is the traditional Gaelic May Day festival, usually held from sunset on April 30th until sunset on May 1st. It marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice.
In its earliest practice, cattle would be released onto summer pastures and rituals would be performed to protect the cattle and the harvest during the season. The most important part of the rituals was the lighting of a fire – “Beltane” means bright fire – to call on the sun to nurture the earth and encourage summer growth. The earth is at its most fertile, ready to burst with the growth it’s been nurturing throughout spring. Fertility and new beginnings are at the heart of these festivities.
Celebrating Beltane Today
This ancient festival is an important part of Irish culture and feels like a really important part of my heritage. This festival of fertility and abundance particularly warms my heart because it signals the gradual return of the gorgeous wildflowers that inspire many of my paintings. This time of year also feels like such a time of manifestation. All the seeds that have been quietly brewing under the earth are doing their magical thing and I love to mirror this in my practice. After sowing the seeds of dreams over winter, I am eager to witness their growth during the summer.
One of the simple ways I love to honour Beltane is by preparing bouquets of yellow flowers – to match the fiery yellow of the festival – and spreading them around the doorways and windows in my home. Some of my favourites are primroses, hyacinths and daffodils. It is simple gestures like this that bring such a simple richness to my life.
Events in May
One of the most exciting manifestations of planted dreams at this time of year is the opportunity to share new works I have been creating in the quiet stillness of the winter months.
I will be participating in so many lovely happenings in May, where I will be showing my paintings and (hopefully!) meeting lots of you gorgeous folk. Here are a few of the upcoming events I am looking forward to.
I find that open studios are a less intimidating way to meet the artists behind the work and I love the relaxed feel of these events. It is the perfect opportunity to hear artists’ stories and the stories behind their work.
During my own open studio there is always a combination of both new and older works on display. Some archived pieces are often squirreled away during these open studio events, offering up a bargain opportunity to purchase a piece you may not find elsewhere. There’s really something for everybody!
So whether you just want to take a closer look at my work and really get a feel for my wildflower paintings or are interested in a commission I would love to see you!
Flower Power Ball
On the 16th May, I will be attending a very special event: the Plantlife Flower Power Ball in Kensington Palace.
I have spent several months working on a huge, incredibly textured, kaleidoscopic painting that will be auctioned to help raise funds for this important charity. I have poured my heart and soul into this piece and it is a visual feast of wildflowers.
It is such an honour to be part of the solution for these endangered species that are so close to my heart. I paint for so many different reasons but always to embrace joy and to celebrate our natural world. For me, supporting an organisation that is so deeply committed to protecting endangered plants and also to creating and nourishing community is really important. Plantlife host many events that bring people together and there is a strong focus on the power of community. Together, we can make a difference.
I am delighted to be involved in this event. It is always wonderful meeting other people who are as passionate about these themes as I am. I am, of course, excited to be putting on a posh frock and to be in Kensington Palace! A real once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair
It is rare for me to be in Scotland but my Celtic blood always makes this part of the world feel special. I am thrilled to be taking part in the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair for the first time on the 17th and 18th May. So if you are a local Glaswegian, you can meet me on the Friday night for our preview show – just drop us an email to receive a complimentary ticket.
The Fair will take place in the grounds of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which has a long and fascinating history. The gallery and museum was first opened in 1901 for the second Glasgow International Exhibition. The building itself is really beautiful, built in a Spanish Baroque style using the distinctive Glaswegian Locharbriggs red sandstone. There is a funny urban myth that the architect accidentally built the building back to front!
It feels an honour to be exhibiting in this space that has such a rich tradition and impressive global reputation. Do come visit!
Elmer’s Big Parade
Lastly, I must mention that I have an elephant in my studio!
Spring is fully in the air when we catch up with Yvonne Coomber to discuss her conservation work with Plantlife and other charities. A keen ambassador for the protection of wildflowers, the conservation of our delicate ecosystems in the UK is central to Yvonne’s practice and shines through in her work. In this interview, she tells us all about why this cause is so important to her, how she’s supporting conservation charities through her work, and what she’s looking forward to in the future.
You are renowned for your gorgeous wildflower paintings and a huge part of your work attempts to educate people about the importance of wildflowers in the environment and highlight conservation work. Why is this work so close to your heart?
At this precise moment in history, all our ecological systems are threatened and have become precarious and unstable. The protection of our wildflowers, and indeed our planet, needs a higher consciousness – it needs us all.
Wildflowers are such a joyful part of our environment and I love them so much. They have the ability to evoke innocence, beauty and happiness and they are such a powerful force. It is in these locations that I believe magic and deep transformation can grow.
Wildflowers are delicate and glamorous show-offs in summer fields, but most importantly they are a precious necessity to our planet. Meadows are an incredibly endangered species and their ongoing survival is a concern at this time. It feels deeply important to make a stand for their continuation. Cross-fertilisation and the protection of bees are all woven into this very fragile and delicate ecosystem. Everything on this earth is interconnected and it is important that we wake up to this so we are able to care for and nurture our environment.
It’s so saddening to hear some of the statistics about the loss of wildflowers across Britain. Ten species have become extinct since Queen Elizabeth was crowned. Eighteen species have disappeared since the seventeenth century. Intensive agriculture and the use of pesticides have really threatened wildflowers and the rate at which these delicate flowers are vanishing is shocking. The steep decline in the bee population is also a serious problem and one that can very directly be linked to the absence of wild flowers (bee food!).
Your love and concern for wildflowers explains your keen support of Plantlife. What is it about their work that first drew you to the charity?
The work that they are doing is invaluable because they are frontline in protecting wildflowers, plants and fungi in the United Kingdom. They are completely dedicated to this mission in a very concentrated way – they understand this natural heritage is priceless and needs to be conserved. Plantlife own 4,500 acres of nature reserve across the UK and over eighty percent of Britain’s wildflowers can actually be found on their land.
An essential aspect of their work involves raising awareness. They are weaving a consciousness about the protection of wildflowers, plants and fungi into every corner of the country. They work with landowners, businesses, conservation organisations and governments in their mission to create profound change.
They have a really important campaign at the moment, the Road Verge Campaign. Rural road verges are such a vital place for wildflowers – an amazing number of rare species grow on road verges. Plantlife are trying to make sure they are cared for and maintained by local councils. When carefully managed, these protected verges can allow numerous species to thrive as well as providing a beautiful sight for motorists!
Plantlife host a Great British Wildflower Hunt event in the spring. It is a wonderful way of bringing the community together. Encouraging children and families to become involved means that their message is more broadly shared and received.
It is a deepening and ongoing relationship and I feel committed to being part of the work that they are doing, it feels like the grass roots of my own practice (literally!).
I have been working on an enormous, incredibly textured, kaleidoscopic painting, with a multitude of layers. It sparkles and shimmers and I have poured so much hope, love and blessings into each of the layers. It has taken several months to create and is a really stunning piece – my heart and soul are woven into it! It will be auctioned at Plantlife’s fundraising charity ball in May at Kensington Palace. It is a complete honour to be contributing directly to the work that Plantlife does. I am both humbled and proud to support their vision.
You previously mentioned the launch of the wildflower centre at the Eden Project. This sounds so exciting! Can you tell me a bit more about it?
The Eden Project is an incredibly inspirational centre. The National Wildlife Centre has its new home there. The organisation is deeply committed to protecting and restoring wild habitats. It is passionate about reversing the wildflower decline and restoring wildflowers to being a central part of the UK’s living culture.
I was honoured to recently attend the launch of the Wildflower Centre at the Eden Project. In attendance were some deeply informed speakers who are leading authorities in environmentalism, conservation and ecology as well as passionate students with groundbreaking ideas.
This was a fertile space for visions of wildflower sanctuaries woven into our everyday life. The creation of ecological structures in industrial places, like the edges of motorways, is just as important as the emerald pasture lands of bygone days. This dream should be planted everywhere, in urban spaces as well as rural locations.
The founder of the Eden Project, Tim Smit, is an incredibly inspiring man. He states that the challenges of this century will require the very best of us! That ethos is an essential ingredient of the Eden Project’s narrative and mission to awaken individuals to realising that we are a part of nature, not apart from nature.
Tim Smit is a champion for believing that we can create change together. In its infancy, he held a deep belief that the Eden Project needed to exist and a trust that it could happen, despite scepticism. He wanted to regenerate this enormous, barren clay pit and create what he calls “a symbol of optimism, to show that ordinary people working together could do the nearly impossible”. He succeeded!
He also embraced a powerful commitment to bringing people together. The ability of the Eden Project to connect the local community illuminated the possibility of a different cultural paradigm. It became an example of how things could be if we are working in unity. We can all make a difference. In the attempt to manifest big changes, the acknowledgement of the significance of little gestures is so important.
For instance, planting a garden in our own green spaces, however humble they may be is a magical thing to do. The Eden Project has created their own unique seed collection and this is an invitation to not only plant flowers but also to plant dreams.
Can we look forward to any future collaborations with conservation organisations?
I am committed to all conservation projects and the work that these organisations do feels totally necessary. Supporting charities who are attempting to create an alternative vision for our precious planet is a beautiful thing to be part of.
Spring is always a busy time of year for me. I’m so pleased to be exhibiting in so many places over the next two months and I would love to meet some of you at these events.
13th April: Solo exhibition at Art5 Gallery, Brighton
26th – 28th April: Fresh Art Fair, Cheltenham
9th – 12th May: London Affordable Art Fair, Hamsptead
17th – 19th May: Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair, Scotland
Valentine’s Day is always a special time of year for me. The middle of February has been a time for celebrating romance, marriage and love for thousands of years. Our modern day festivities probably had their roots in the Roman pastoral and fertility festival Lupercalia, but it’s travelled down to us today as a simple time to appreciate the love and romance in our lives. Flowers have naturally become a traditional symbol of Valentine’s Day for centuries, which is one of the reasons why I love this season so much!
Personally, I am so grateful for all the love I have in my life. My wildflower paintings are always full of my expressions of love and hope, so working at this time of year is such a joy. Love’s many facets can be glimpsed in my paintings. The interpretation is open to the viewer, but the strength of the underlying emotion is universal. Some people see love for a partner, others for a parent, others for a friend. The titles of my recent artworks speak to the many different ways we can love others and also the ways we can love ourselves. The most important message at the heart of my work is that the world needs love. This Valentine’s Day, I want to embrace the many facets of love around me and the many places it can come from in our lives.
Even though this time of year can be so centred on romantic love, I really like to make it an opportunity to appreciate the many different strands of love in my life. My husband Mike and I have been together for ten years and married for five. Having his love is so special! Beyond that, I also have the love of my four children, so many wonderful friends, and of course, my team here at work. These other strands are so important.
Love is truly all around us. It’s just a question of letting that love into our lives and recognising that it comes from everywhere – from lovers, parents, children, friends, colleagues, strangers… I always want my heart to be open to the love the world can offer me.
When I was a single mother raising my daughter Poppy, my best girlfriends and I used Valentine’s Day as a time to give each other flowers. We wanted to acknowledge that there are so many different kinds of love that exist in our lives outside of romantic love and remember that they are worth celebrating just as much. I am so thankful to the wonderful friends I have around me who have stood by me over the years. They bring so much joy and support into my life.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day with friends is just as special as celebrating it with a partner. Sending a card, gift or flowers to friends to show how much you love them and appreciate having them in your life is always a worthy gesture of the depth of your friendship.
The ability to love ourselves is so important. Personally, the feeling of being comfortable in my own skin is key to the way I work. In order to truly surrender to the canvas and pour my heart into my artwork, I need to love myself and feel secure letting go. For this, I am so thankful for the periods of time I spent travelling and exploring the world when I was in my twenties. That thirst to discover more about the world around me helped me learn more about myself and how to love myself.
In order to truly love others wholeheartedly and live our best lives, we need to feel good about who we are and love ourselves first. Valentine’s Day can be as much about loving yourself and feeling good about yourself as it can be about loving someone else.
I am so lucky to have my husband Mike. I love him so profoundly and it feels like such a blessing to have this love in my life! After ten years together and five years of marriage, he still gives me butterflies. In June this year, we’ll be celebrating our sixth year of marriage. I’m grateful for any excuse to celebrate our relationship though and Valentine’s Day will be no exception. Every day with him deserves to be celebrated.
Falling in love and opening our hearts to another person is such a special, intimate act. We want to treasure that relationship every day we have it – whether that’s with small gestures of kindness or grand gestures of love. Whether it’s getting a card, gift or flowers on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.
If you’d like to purchase anything from my shop in time for this Valentine’s Day, please note that last posting day for guaranteed delivery by then is the 12th February!
I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
Imbolc marks the midpoint of winter and traditionally begins at sundown February 1st through to sundown February 2nd. In the Christian calendar, it is known as candlemas, a time when candles are lit for the Virgin Mary. However, I prefer to embrace the Celtic interpretation of this seasonal festival as it feels embedded in my Irish roots and lies closer to my heart. This lesser-known ancient festival celebrates Brigid, the fire goddess of fertility, growth and birth. It welcomes the returning light and the first stirrings of life after the still silence of winter.
With the start of a new year not far behind and the start of a new season not far ahead, I have been reflecting on the effortless beauty and wisdom of nature’s cycles and how we can honour her rhythms in our lives. As we witness the smallest trembles of movement above the surface, there are also deep, hidden stirrings in the dark earth below. This mirrors the beginnings of new hopes and dreams that are forming into manifestations in my own life. It’s such an exciting time of year for me!
Reflecting on the Winter Months
As we greet the new year and welcome spring, Imbolc marks the moment we can pause to reflect on the winter months that came before it. It is the perfect opportunity for deciding what we want to embrace and what we intend to let go of. I really use this time to reflect on my work, the experiences that have nourished me and the lessons I’ve learned in the past months.
This winter particularly, my paintings have become more abstracted. Inspired by Monet and Turner, I’ve been studying water and its reflections. There’s something profoundly entrancing and mystical about a pool of water – its stillness, movements and turbulences. As I look into the mesmerising, multi-layered world it reveals to me, I’m grateful for these opportunities for reflection. I am experimenting with trying to capture some of this ethereal quality in my new work.
Welcoming the Light of Spring
As winter draws to a close and each day grows warmer and brighter, Imbolc is a symbolic time to reawaken after the season of rest and greet the light of spring. One of my favourite ways to do this is to walk in wild places, either on the moors or by the sea. I love witnessing the earth gently stirring with white banks of snowdrops and velvet buds on the branches of trees, enjoying the ways nature is coming alive again after the dormant months behind us. This growing light simply makes my heart happy.
Returning home after these crisp days and lighting a fire seems like a simple gesture of gratitude to acknowledge the returning power of the sun. I like these small acts that can weave magic into my daily life, they fill me with joy. Looking ahead, I feel ready to embrace the growth spring will bring my way. I have planted many dreams and I am now excited to see some of them grow!
Purifying & Cleansing Your Environment
All around me, seeds, trees and plants are opening their hearts to the light of the new season and laying down the roots to prepare for new growth. Imbolc is a gentle reminder for me to follow their example and lay the foundations for growth by cleansing my life and setting intentions for the future.
Deep clearing of living and working spaces feels helpful during this process. Eradicating chaos in our homes allows peace and calm to settle. Sometimes this is a challenge(!), but I love the spaciousness that this deep, careful attention creates. Environments become a clear space for fertile growth, peace and connection. Clarity in a space that allows energies to flow is important in my life and my studio is no exception. Making sure that my work space is organised and my materials are ready to use when I need them is key to creating the right environment for work.
I naturally swing between order and chaos in most aspects of my life and my studio is a colourful testament to this fact! This time of year tenderly invites us with an opportunity for deep organisation, so I am clearing abandoned corners of my barn. New purchases of rich rainbows of oil paints from Michael Harding and Daler Rowney fill the paint-splatted shelves. I am excited to weave these jewels of pigments into new work. The kaleidoscopic tubes feel like promises for the future as they lie quietly on the battered oak planks. Everything feels as if it is bursting with possibility! I love methodically culling and purifying my studio space so I am ready for the wild dance that will unfold in the meadow outside.
New work… Let Love In, limited-edition print (available framed or unframed)
Committing to Your Dreams
Imbolc honours the way nature embraces each day’s light and warmth so new growth can flourish in spring and summer. It’s a beautiful, humble example that I love to follow. Committing to my dreams and vision involves opening my heart to change and embracing all the possibilities and opportunities that reach me, big or small.
My intention to bring joy into the lives of others through painting is paramount to my practice. This year, despite the turbulence and challenges circulating around the world, I remain as committed to this vision as ever. I firmly believe that in the seemingly darkest moments there is always a tiny glimmer of light to be discovered. Bringing this intention into my paintings is instinctual and very tangible in my most recent collection of work.
Soon, seeds will begin to germinate, trees and bushes will grow new leaves, and wildflowers will spread their blankets of joy again. The frosty meadow just outside my studio will transform into the gorgeous wildflower landscape that I love so much. Imbolc affords a time to shake off the darkness of the previous months and look ahead at the possibilities of the new year. For me, it also provides a moment of pause so I can feel rested and ready to commit to my visions and dreams in 2019.
This Imbolc, I will be attending the NEC Spring Fair Trade Show in Birmingham the 3rd – 7th February. A preview of my 2019 art collection of limited-edition prints and printed canvases will be available. It’s always a great way to reconnect with my gallery and meet people who are interested in my work. If you’re interested in attending, please send us an email and we can organise a complimentary VIP ticket.
A time for stillness and rest, a time to dream.
My end of year thoughts…
I always think this lull between the festivities of Christmas and celebrations of New Year’s Eve is a good time for reflection and dreaming. A time to switch off from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Reflection is rewarding because it helps us to really bear witness to and celebrate everything we’ve achieved. I’m happiest when my life feels purposeful, and rooted in what matters most to me. So I am dreaming of diving deeper, not wider with my painting and prioritising time for adventure and rest. Mostly I just want to keep on building a life that feels the most meaningful and joyful to me.
Embrace this transitional time and let go of the past
This has been such a wonderful year for me in many ways. It’s had it’s highs and lows like all years do, but mostly I just feel so much gratitude for my life, my home, my business, and the amazing humans that I get to share my life with. I want to focus on the positive and release the negative. Life is short, & moments are precious.
In the restful stillness of midwinter,
there is a time to dream a time to look inwards
and to connect others
a time of reflection and deep gratitude
a time to discard the old and welcome the new
and begin again
A collective threshold with everyone in the same place… letting go and looking forward
I am spending time reflecting on my end of year thoughts, what I am most proud of this year and what has brought me the most joy this year. When I’ve felt most alive, connected, and at peace. What has energised and inspired me this year and how I can continue to make space for this in the brand new year to come too.
A time to re-embrace and recommit to good habits and deepen relationships that support us
It’s important to show ourselves some kindness, take better care of ourselves and meet our own needs. To feel good you need to do things that will make yourself feel good. By identifying the emotions you value the most helps you to realise that you have to be the source of your own happiness. I want to use this time to think and plan how I can reach my goal of achieving my own definition of happiness. Finding time to surround myself with the people that help me be a better person.
Buying art can be an intimidating process. You’ve seen a piece of art online or in an art gallery. You love it. You want to buy it. But you feel you need to learn a little about how to buy art first.
Whether it’s an original artwork, canvas or print it’s extremely important to discover the piece of art that is right for you.
Here are some of my tips to help you choose the perfect piece.
Follow your bliss
It is important to feel a connection with the work and to select a piece that makes your heart sing. Art collecting is like love at first sight.
Finding the right piece of art can bring you eternal happiness so always choose a piece you fall in love with. Trust your instinct and follow your heart.
Where to look
It has never been easier to buy art. Traditional galleries, art fairs, auctions and local open studios are always a great way to see the artwork in person.
For the first time buyer who finds galleries overwhelming a fixed-price “buy now” online platform can be appealing and accessible.
Online galleries such as Saatchi Art give you access to a much greater range of art than is possible to view in person including international access to works you would previously not have been able to see.
One of the barriers to making that initial leap to buying original art online is not being able to see the work in person before hanging it in your home. Step in Saatchi Art’s 7 day money back guarantee – return the work for a full refund if it’s not quite what you hoped.
Working with budgets
Limited edition prints are an affordable way to transform your home with an image you love and these smaller edition batches from an artist you love are investment pieces in their own right.
Make sure you choose an original print made and signed by the artist, which will usually be a limited edition run of 50-100
Do ensure that the piece you choose is mounted and framed beautifully.
Consider the interior
Home is a space of nourishment and retreat. A place of sanctuary. A piece of art brings magic and life to a space. The size of the image you choose will determine the degree of impact you wish it to have. For instance, a very large painting will be a centrepiece and the interior will hold it like a precious jewel. Equally, a smaller work will bring colour and a sense of joy. A little baby painting brings pops of colour that unites a room.
Keep in mind that art should be hung lower than you think, too high creates an awkward focal point within the room.
Displaying smaller pieces on shelves works really well.
A gallery wall works wonderfully for an eclectic arrangement of different-sized artworks and is a great way to build your art collection. It gives you the freedom to chop and change, adding new styles and types of artwork as your collection grows.
Also consider fabrics, cushions and lampshades to compliment your chosen works.
Follow your favourite artist on social media
Research is important. Learn about the artist you are buying from to get a feel for how they work and the story behind their art.
Following your favourite artists on social media gives you an insight into their influences and what informs their practice. It is also a great way to keep in the loop of their recent works. You need to see a commitment to their work – you don’t want to buy from someone who stops painting soon after your purchase.
You shouldn’t buy art as an investment, but because you want your life enriched. Be brave with your choices and don’t deny yourself something you really love.
Now that you have read my tips, you know that buying art is not that difficult after all. What are you waiting for? It’s time to consider starting your own collection!
As the festive period approaches I have been reflecting on how this time of year is significant for me. I love Christmas. The smell of pine mixed with mulled wine and mince pies, twinkling lights and people coming together to make magical memories.
However, it can also be a tricky time for people for many reasons. Not least because of the mass consumerism that seems to take over.
Black Friday has been coined as the official start of Christmas shopping — the day of can’t-miss bargains that encourages us to shop for things that we don’t really need or want. The biggest and most important retail shopping day of the year. However, in the midst of this frenzy it seems to me the reason we buy gifts seems to have been lost.
Black Friday Alternative
Personally, I see Christmas as an opportunity to buy a gift as a gesture to show my love and tenderness towards my nearest and dearest.
This thought process led me to come up with a meaningful alternative to Black Friday and rename it Friendship Friday.
So this year on Black Friday, November 23rd, rather than indulge in the discount shopping mayhem, choose a friendlier, more soulful alternative. I believe the true essence of Christmas time is love and I want to offer you an opportunity to win a hand embellished canvas of your choice and then share your good fortune with someone you love.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” -C.S. Lewis
Friendship Friday (Black Friday Alternative) - Win Art By Yvonne Coomber - YouTube
Enter the Friday Friendship Giveaway
To enter simply sign up below. The winner will be chosen at random and emailed with the good news November 22nd. After choosing any print from my canvas collection you can then invite a loved one to do exactly the same.
Terms and Conditions
The prize – 2 hand embellished canvas prints from the Yvonne Coomber Online Store
Start date is 9am, 22nd October 2018 and the closing date is 9am, 22nd November 22nd 2018. The winner will be notified by email. The winner will need to provide a postal address so we can arrange delivery. If the winner does not respond with the postal addresses for both canvases within 2 days of contact the giveaway will be re-drawn and the prize re-allocated. The winner must have fulfilled the mandatory requirement. The prize is not transferable and there is no monetary alternative.
“the richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration”
I am frequently asked how I select my art materials. Oil paints, brushes, canvases, palette knives and even rags are, of course, necessary tools. However, equally important are my surroundings. I always paint outside and the elements are a less tangible material that shapes the painting and contributes to the final image.
Oils In Contemporary Paintings
“some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun”
My experience and training have given me a deep understanding of the way that different painting substances work together. This has led me to exclusively use oils in my practice. Their luminosity, jewel like qualities and their slow drying tendency allow me to manipulate and develop surfaces as I build up layers. I adore how oils have the ability to shape shift from something very transparent and dreamy, akin to a watercolour, through to something that is thickly impasto and much more textural. Oils have a beautiful ability to lend themselves towards the creation of a multitude of surfaces. They have been chosen for centuries by painters for both their depth and longevity.
Masters both past and present inform my own artistic practice. I frequently visit exhibitions in London and beyond to feed my inspiration.
The beginnings of my paintings have a very soft, ethereal quality. I began my career as a watercolourist and traces of these roots are evident in my paintings today. I use heavily diluted oils in the initial layers to create a translucent, atmospheric wash that embraces light. I choose zest-it to accomplish this liquid transparency as in comparison to turps and white spirit it has a much reduced toxicity. It also smells good! Monet used this dilution of colour in his landscapes and helen frankenthaler in her colour soaked expressionism.
The final layers of my paintings, in contrast, are much denser and are reminiscent of artists such as gustav klimt with his use of gold leaf and jackson pollocks thick, abundant application of glosses. Research and immersion into the work of many ground-breaking artists all provide a springboard for my own imagination.
A commitment to excellence is central to my work. I am hugely discerning of the oil paints i select. Michael Harding paints are saturated with intense pigments and are simply a joy to work with. Though phenomenally expensive the tiny tubes contain the exact hues I desire. I also enjoy working with Daler Rowney – georgian oils. It is essential to me that i can create the whole colour wheel. I mix all of my own shades to invent the unique palette necessary for each painting. I feel like an alchemist at this stage of the process. I love this journey of weaving rainbows!
Painting In Nature
“the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.”
As I always work en plein air the whole journey of a painting is an organic process. Nature is central to my practice. The weather very particularly contributes to the creation of my art. Howling gales and gentle breezes influence how the oils land on the canvas. At this stage of the work, when paint flies in the wind, there is a surrender. And risk. I am both a conductor and a dancer as the image reveals itself.
My working environment is rural and unquestionably idyllic. I am surrounded by open fields, flower filled meadows and tumbling, kaleidoscopic hedgerows.
As I am based in the south west it rains fairly regularly at my studio, which is nestled deep in Devons folds. When the skies open droplets make organic watermarks that bring a unique quality to the finished piece. In contrast, in the summertime paint bakes with the heat and causes a crackled reaction that I love. The winter months bring icy mornings that slow the whole creative process down. These short crisp days are much stiller and painting becomes like a meditation.
I am captivated by this relationship to mystery and wildness in my practice.
You can see the effects of working with the elements on my original oil paintings.
“one really beautiful wrist motion, that is synchronised with your head and heart, and you have it. It looks as if it were born in a minute.”
I employ brushes to produce many different results. For instance, fine sable brushes create tiny details. In contrast broad domestic brushes lend to energetic and bolder movements. I use palette knives lavishly to apply thick oils to a smooth consistency. Rags are used to merge soft oils; these are sourced from the rowcroft charity shop where my mother works. I have lost both my best friend and father to cancer so this process brings a direct connection to these supportive institutions.
Painting With Glitter
“in nature, light creates the colour”
I use various grades of glitter in my canvases to embrace and reflect light. These glitters are woven into the very fabric of the painting. Some have small grains of diamond dust, whilst others have rainbow and holographic qualities.
Joy And Painting
“joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
Painting for me is an offering. My intention is for a person to stand in front of my work and feel moved. I want to communicate joy and beauty. My art is a celebration of love and makes a stand for all that is good in the world.
Art inspired by song lyrics and poetry
Art Inspired By Song Lyrics And Poetry
“if I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
“if I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
I love music. My husband mike is a dj and i’m constantly surrounded by musicians. My first degree was in literature and philosophy and i therefore have a profound passion for words. I often name pieces inspired by my favourite songs, lyrics and poems.
Take a look at song inspired prints here: ‘your love is king‘-sade. ‘Into the mystic’ – van morrison. ‘Heart of gold’- neil young. ‘Groove is in the heart’ – deee-lite. ‘Pretty thing’ – david bowie. ‘I believe in miracles’ – hot chocolate. ‘My girl’ – the temptations.
Follow Your Heart
“two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference”
Authenticity means choosing the path that is best for ourselves. Listening to that quiet strong voice within. Daring to be different. I have always followed my heart and I know this to be a powerful force. This, along with a lot of hard work, I believe has been the key to my artistic success.
Five top tips for emerging artists
Remember it’s not about having the most expensive materials but rather having the passion to express yourself.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog, if you would like to learn more about my practice and stay in touch with what i’m up to, sign up to my monthly newsletter.