Imagine the colour and ink dancing on the paper as you paint. This is what I see when I use ink, as it seems to have a life of its own. I don’t know whether it is freedom or fear that I feel before I embark. It can be a fast and simple process but I have to be in a certain place emotionally to accomplish what I consider to be a successful painting. There is a certain amount of control that needs to be executed, knowing how or when to place the water on the paper, how long it should be left to soak, should some be removed, etc. and then, sometimes with a little help, it is the inks turn. It is a little like a partnership working together with the ink… we both have our roles and responsibilities.
It’s hard to believe sometimes that my interest in the human figure started with my childhood fascination with paper dolls. Despite the limitations of the medium, each had their own character and look, with wardrobes to cater for all occasions: men and women, girls and boys…
I may be all grown up now, but the interest in the basic concept remains.
Fun, Flirtation and ageless beauty…
Where to start — the beginning, of course! I approach my work from many different angles. On one level it’s light and fun, recalling the glamour of the Forties and Fifties, intentionally paying homage to the amazing illustrators of the age. That classic ageless beauty expressed by the fashions of the time holds a fascination for me, managing to be refined and elegant but with its own uniquely flirtatious undercurrent. Truth be told, the fashion illustrators of that period have always been a major influence on me, but so too are many of the fashion artists and illustrators working today.
Literature, conversation and love, isn’t life so unpredictable…
While the constantly changing face of fashion doesn’t preoccupy me, the silhouette and detail of women’s fashion is a major source of inspiration for me. Layering personal experience with ideas from literature and conversation, I use the genre of fashion painting to create scenarios and characters that I would best describe as visual anecdotes, blended fact and fiction that tell secret stories drawn from my own presence and desires. I also try to set a mood, using feelings from my experiences and encounters to define the personalities of the women in my pictures, delving into my past as well as the present to create fictitious future situations and relationships.
I adore the flow and freedom that comes from using water and ink; the chaos is for me the random element in life that represents unpredictability and the constant unfolding of the unexpected. There’s a fine line between constructive chaos and the frustration of losing control that means I can only plan my work to a certain extent: the conclusion, the finished piece of art, is something I arrive at rather than plan in detail.
Hope and despair, love and sadness…
The main protagonists are usually female because I am a woman and there is an element of self-projection in all my work. I love being a woman, and often think about the whole experience of being a woman in the modern world. How do we accept the ideal of true love, that ever-elusive spark between two people we all crave? Where has the dream gone? The flirting; the feeling of suspension between hope and despair… the drama of it all!
For me, the glamour of eveningwear is an expression of desire: just look at the lengths we go to in order to attract the other and express our desire for them. Metaphors and allegories: scratch beneath the surface to expose the fragility of our psyche.
Passing Strangers and what could be…
I use a slightly voyeuristic approach for sure: an overheard fragment of a stranger’s conversation perhaps, or a half-forgotten comment made by a past lover. Such are the catalysts of my ideas, the titles of which hint at where my paintings are going, although any such titles are also deliberately shrouded in ambiguity too. I guess there’s an element in voyeurism in the viewing of art as well as the making; looking at any piece of art invites personal interpretation of what the viewer sees in the artist’s expression of their world.
She always has the final say!
The ladies in my paintings are elegant and confident, but they are also playful and have a definite sense of mischief about themselves; they are used to stealing the show. As such, they are part comment on my personal relationships, part a documentation of my moods and emotions, but as pieces of visual fiction as well, I do hope that they amuse, charm, delight and intrigue the viewer.
I was trained at Bretton Hall, University of Leeds where I gained a 1st class BA in Fashion and Textiles. After a spell of teaching fashion and fashion illustration in Milan, I worked in the fashion industry for several years as an embroiderer and fashion designer. After several years living abroad I returned to England and to my first love, painting figures and illustrating fashion. Since then, I have evolved into a successful freelance artist, and create from my studio in Kent.
I am a published artist, with greetings cards and framed prints of my work being sold both through online outlets and through stores and shops such as John Lewis and The Shard where examples of my work can currently be seen. In addition my Heavy Metal paintings have also been used by the well-known store Anthropologie on a range of desert plates and serving platters, both in Europe and the United States.
It you fancy reading a little more please click on the following links...
Questions and Answers - The Other Art Fair
Questions and Answers - Saatchi Art, Inside the Studio
Questions and Answers - Rise Art
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