When my course drew to a close I decided I was not ready for the real world and applied for an MA. In 2000 I started an MA in sequential Illustration at Brighton University. The course appealed to me for many reasons; I was well suited to the sequential focus of it, my previous work being dominated by a series format, I also felt excited about developing my images further and with London a short train ride away I was hoping for commercial possibilities.
When I completed my MA I began pursuing these possibilities. I feel lucky to have lived in Brighton at this time in my career as there are lots of galleries, cafes and bars providing excellent opportunities to exhibit paintings.
I started to become successful as a fine artist rather than an illustrator, which initially came as a surprise for me after all my studying, however I have never felt that art needed to be categorised so strictly. The more paintings I did, the more confident I became with my own ideas and image-making.
Four years on I have had many successful solo exhibitions and sell paintings consistently well. I have sold out at recent art fairs and am very pleased with the response.
I feel excited about my new work and I am looking forward to developing my paintings further in the future.
There is not a time I can remember when I didn’t sketch. I was happy to do this throughout my childhood, which thankfully was encouraged by my parents. This continued when I began my degree; when interviewed at Edinburgh College of Art a great emphasis was placed on drawing by my tutor, which made me feel sure I wanted to study there.
I enjoyed at that time sketching people, but also landscapes, this was developed even further on my MA, when I based my work on Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock” giving me a chance to document all my surroundings.
When I began exhibiting, my paintings were Brighton influenced, generally being seascapes, but at the same time I was interested in colour and composition. As time went on my subject matter became more varied and my focus less about the subject matter and more about atmospheres and feelings.
I love to paint butterflies and flowers as there is something very satisfying about capturing ephemeral things. My aims are to produce pieces that evoke positive themes, whether it is a simple landscape that reminds the viewer of a place close to their heart or a bright canvas to escape grey days.
My chosen medium is acrylic, as I find it is best suited to my way of working, which is to paint layers and layers of colour. I blend different colours into the background of my paintings to evoke sections of light. I feel this creates a glow in the painting, and makes the work more interesting. When I have painted the basics on canvas, I detail using oil Pastel. I love this way of working for many reasons; separating shapes and colours reminds me of my screen painting days at college and also gives me a chance to draw delicate lines, which I feel lends sensitivity to the painting.
Acrylics also suit me on a practical level; they are fast drying which enables me to paint quickly. I would say I am quite a prolific artist and work at a fast pace, so my paintings remain fresh.
I usually work in sets. Which I suppose is the influence of my MA in Sequential Illustration. I also enjoy the look of triptychs as I feel they enable me to use bright colours together, but in a considered way.
I feel I have just begun to explore the possibilities of texture, various colour combinations and different themes. I hope to build on my technical skills in the future.
Painting and drawing has always made me feel happy and content, so I work pretty much everyday. I feel lucky that I am able to do this, so even when I have a lot of paintings to do I can always find extra energy.
A typical day would start at about 8.30 am. I don’t think I am really a morning or evening person as I work both. I generally spend the morning painting and listening to radio 2, this funnily enough gives some structure to my day! If I need art supplies I will head into town in the afternoon. I sketch a lot when I am out and about, but I also have a lot of reference books, which are useful for details. I generally continue painting until the evening, as it is better for me to have a full day working, enabling me to get more involved in the piece.
I work from home, which I really enjoy, as I can paint any time without having to travel anywhere. In that respect it is part of my lifestyle, which makes me very fortunate.