The story behind the Artist
I am a professional Artist & Art Tutor, born and raised in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in the Midlands and now living in the small town of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, in Northumberland with my partner and fellow Artist John Graham.
I have always had a passion for Art. From a very early age I enjoyed creating pictures as most children do and one Christmas when I received a box of Caran Dache Coloured pencils, I was hooked! Fully Self taught, my subject interests began with Birds having been a keen Birdwatcher as a child and regularly visiting Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. My Art style always leaned towards realism, never photo realism but a portrayal, the need to add lots of detail is because I have always enjoyed the challenge. As Art played such a huge part in my life, turning professional was always the aim, but the Internet was not commonplace when I first left school in 1990 and so I took myself off to college and trained as a Beauty Therapist before going into Self Employment for 5 years. I then went into Employment for 11 years in a Department store mainly for the experience and learnt a lot from this but it was the death of my Mum in 2010 from Bowel Cancer that made me take that leap of faith finally into my dream business - I have never looked back!
I met John through Facebook in 2011. It's a great platform to meet some wonderful people and inspiring artists and we became good friends e-mailing each other regularly, sharing our latest portraits and talking Rock music and Blackadder. In 2013 John made the 160 mile trip from Newbiggin to Chesterfield and 17 months later I moved upto Newbiggin by the Sea to live with him. John is an Artist too and so we share many things in common such as Photography, Cycling and music. We are quite alike in our personalities and we both enjoy creating highly detailed Art in the studio we share.
I was brought up in a house full of Animals and have always felt my happiest around them, they always brought me an feeling of calmness simply by being in proximity and so when I moved out of my parents house and into a flat I always had Birds but was without a dog for 10 years which I missed terribly. When I moved upto Northumberland, John had 4 dogs - 3 Labradors & a Springer. Pip was Haze's Dad but he passed away at the grand age of 15 in 2015 and we just had Haze, Storm & Casper. Early in 2017, Switch came to live with us as his owner, John's Dad had Alzheimers and was unable to safely care for him any longer. Having 4 big dogs meant it was very important that I was able to walk them all safely on my own and so training plays an important part, training them to respond to a whistle and praising them with treats (a bit too much at times!). I also find it helpful to train them using both hand signals and spoken word so as they get older and knowing their hearing will deteriorate over time, they can still understand. They're all special in different ways and although they can be an absolute nightmare at times, I love them dearly!
Newbiggin by the Sea & Northumberland
Northumberland is a beautiful place to visit with amazing beaches, one of which we live a 5 minute walk from in Newbiggin by the Sea and regularly take the dogs down there and watch the local wildlife. As a cyclist, Northumberland has some great cycle paths, rather flat in contrast to the ones in my old home town which is close to the stunning Peak District, and in summer we enjoy cycling up the coast to Cresswell & Druridge Bay with our cameras looking for reference material for our Art and simply enjoying the scenery, peace and tranquility. We are both bird enthusiasts and try and visit Cresswell at least a couple of times a year to visit the Bird Hide and photograph the Barn Owl that has become somewhat of a celebrity with local photographers. As Artists, photography tends to go hand in hand with Art to avoid Copyright issues, but we also find it very therapeutic allowing us the chance to study subjects in the flesh, taking in the surroundings for possible future compositions. There is an abundance of Wildlife here in Newbiggin and sometimes spot the odd deer running across the fields and into the trees on our afternoon dog walk as well as the beautiful sound of the Curlew calling and the surprise of a Pheasant flying out of the undergrowth as we walk past. A few miles up the road is the QE2 park at Woodhorn, wild Red Squirrels can be seen, some quite comfortable around humans and allowing us to photograph them as they feed from the feeders that have been thoughtfully set up by the staff. Much of this Wildlife will be seen in upcoming Art over the next few years.
The Art Studio
I spend every day in the studio, not only creating Art but working on our websites. I also write Articles and create tutorials for my Step by Step Art website too. My preferred way of working is mostly web based in the daytime and creating Art in the evening when I find it much quieter. For me the studio is not simply a place of work but a place of Artistic passion & creativity and I always have lots of Artworks in progress as I will swap between portraits to ensure I keep each piece 'fresh' so to speak. I have thousands of digital images, mostly Wildlife which I use to create compositions for both my own Art and sometimes for Commissions too. On the other side of the studio is John's working area, a qualified joiner by trade, he fitted the studio out before I moved in with him and he creates Pastel portraits part time. Working with different mediums between us, it was important we had individual working areas to avoid cross-contamination of products and we decided to paint the room white to avoid unnatural colours being projected onto our Artworks and only use daylight lamps to ensure bright and natural lighting at all times.
My Art Products
Coloured pencils were the first medium I began my Art journey with as they allowed a lot of control in my work and no mess. I branched out with Graphite pencils in the late 80's whilst at school and was fascinated to see the tonal effects that could be achieved with them. In the 2000's I also started working with both Soft Pastels & Acrylic paints but it was the Acrylics that I found the most interesting due to their fast drying nature and an ability to achieve extremely fine details with them. The importance of working with high quality, professional products was of the utmost importance and I began my online research to choosing the best products available. As a Vegetarian, secondary to these quality requirements were ensuring any Art products I used were also environmentally & animal friendly too. There are always new Art products appearing on the market and both the Caran Dache Luminance Coloured pencils & the GOLDEN Acrylic paints were the only choice for me. The surface I use for my Acrylic portraits is a very fine Gessobord by Ampersand that allows me to create even finer detail in my Acrylic paintings than previously. I only have a small range of Art products these days, quality over quantity for me everytime.
My Art & Bespoke Commission Service
The main and favourite part of my business is creating bespoke Commissions for people. Although Pets are the most popular request, I am also commissioned to produce Portraits as well as Landscapes and Wildlife. I like to take time out to create Artworks of my own choosing which I sell as originals & Giclee Prints, some maybe found on my Store page, and creating varied Art this way gives me great satisfaction in my work. Alongside Pet Commissions sometimes, is the chance to meet the 'subject' allowing me to collect my own reference images with my Nikon SLR camera which ensures any reference image is of high quality resulting in the final portrait also being high in detail. Over the years I have created many compositions through an editing program which is then used as the reference photo which I find enjoyably challenging. I have a few of these portraits within the pages of my website and you can view some examples via the link buttons below.
Art Tutoring & Step by Step Art
Although the main part of my work is Commission based, I also have a dedicated website for Artists with Articles on Art products and mini Step by Step Art tutorials too. As well as writing Articles & tutorials, I also tutor Art workshops on a Part Time basis offering 1 Day Workshops in my old home town in Chesterfield, Derbyshire - these cover a range of subjects and offer tutoring for both budding Artists and also at an intermediate level too. I enjoy helping people to create something that they can be proud of, and my Workshops always include demonstrations as well as 1 to 1 tuition throughout so everyone goes home feeling they have learnt something useful that they can use in future projects. If you are an Artist or interested in attending a Workshop of mine, click the image above to visit the official website.