I think I always knew that I wanted to paint. My father was a keen amateur artist and as a child he encouraged me to draw and paint. Art was always my favourite subject at school and I can still remember the exhilarating smell of the art room.
But I also wanted to stretch my mind and so I went to Exeter University to study Sociology. This led to a stimulating career, initially working as a consultant in qualitative market research which in the 1970’s was a new field and then running my own marketing consultancy. Bringing up my three sons and running my business left little time for hobbies!
It wasn’t until I turned 60 having sold my business and with my sons now living their own lives that I had space to go back to art. I started with watercolour and life drawing classes whilst at the same time experimenting with a whole range of different mediums. I wanted to learn more and be in an art environment and so I took a part-time Degree Course in Fine Art at the University for the Arts, Wimbledon.
I now work from my studios in Surrey and at our house in Devon and I donate the proceeds from the sale of my paintings to charity. Being able to do something I love and at the same time being able to contribute to causes that I care about is very fulfilling. My allergies are now manageable and I can now use other art materials. I still avoid solvents and keep my studio as free of toxic materials as possible. I teach art workshops and I love introducing people to the joy of painting. I have set up an art group – the Wildwood Artists – teaching and mentoring artists who want to develop their art practice and exhibit together. It is very rewarding to use the skills I learned in my business career to teach art, something I never imagined I would be able to do.
My paintings are abstract and my approach to painting is expressive. I paint from ‘inside out’, using my imagination and expressing my feelings and memories rather than painting in a literal way by observation or representing what I see in a realistic way. My painting is based on how I feel, tapping into my intuition and my reflections on what I see around me. I avoid having an ‘end game’ and allow the painting to develop one step at a time – the only important decision for me is the next one. Sometimes the painting comes together easily, sometimes it’s a struggle but I think painting this way keeps the work fresh and alive.
Painting for me is similar to the improvisation of a jazz player: a kind of riffing and experimenting around an initial idea – in my case using colour, shape and texture. As in jazz, I also look for discordant elements because I find that they highlight the visual harmony. What I’m looking for is vibrant but subtle colour adjacencies and rich textures which evoke a feeling, a place, a moment in time in the landscape.