In the beginning...
It all began in the North Wiltshire village where I grew up surrounded by the countryside, animals and creativity. Roaming the lanes and fields was a way of life as were the cows, cow muck, pongy pigs, horses and donkeys.
The animals could be quite entertaining. One local donkey, if the opportunity arose, liked to take himself for a walk around the village and the cows would jump at the chance to ‘explore’ (escape) whenever possible… The ‘Houdini Cows’. I have a lovely memory of my mum shouting from the kitchen ‘Gosh that cow is very loud’ only to find it in the drive! It makes me smile to this day.
At home there was creativity in all shapes and forms, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed painting and drawing from an early age. At school I decided I wanted to be a Graphic Designer and went on to complete a four-year graphic design course - I was after all going to get a job designing David Bowie album covers, wasn’t I?!!!
Well, No!... But I did go on to work in the print and design industry for a number of years until going freelance.
And then there was Cows...
My love of painting Cows started a long time ago when I moved back to the village. My garden is surrounded on 3 sides by fields where the Cows roamed for most of the year. They were always so entertaining and doing daft things. They’d hang over the wall and fence, eat the hedge, charge around the field or occasionally charge around my garden! I always looked forward to them returning to the field after the winter when they would run around kicking their legs in the air, then disappear in the froth of Cow Parsley. I loved them and immediately wanted to paint them.
In the early days I used gouache and coloured pencils for most of my work but grew increasingly frustrated with them and decided to try watercolours. The first painting I attempted was of the Cows in the field next to the garden, the penny dropped and I realised, I loved the medium and really loved the subject and it all fell into place.
I think my early paintings were not only of the Cows but were also a celebration of living in the countryside again and having such entertaining neighbours. They are still my favourite subject. They are intelligent, playful and naughty, powerful and gentle and have their own personalities and I love them. Although my subjects are more varied now, to this day, whenever I paint a Cow or any other farm or wild animal, it is also a celebration of our beautiful British countryside.
Cow Parsley Studio
Cow Parsley Studio is my little studio in the garden. It’s lovely to be able to work looking out on to the fields and animals that have inspired me so much.
My surroundings and the animals that live here continue to play a significant role in my work today but my subject matter is now more varied with my source material coming from further afield. I often visit farms or specialist breeders to gather information and reference material for future projects. I thoroughly enjoy this part of my job. I love seeing the animals in their natural surroundings and meeting the owners who are passionate about what they do.
I mainly work from photographs but also do sketches if possible. After choosing the appropriate paper, my paintings are gradually built up with layers or ‘washes’ of watercolour, this process builds up depth of colour and also detail and I do love detail! I really like getting ‘lost’ in my paintings, it’s almost a meditative process. Watercolour is a tricky medium, it’s elusive, you never have total control, it’s unpredictable and sometimes despairing! But it’s beautiful. I find it a thing of wonder as the picture slowly takes shape and the character of the animal slowly comes to life.
I use my images to produce mounted prints, framed prints, greetings cards and tea towels with a view to expanding the product range in the future. My original framed watercolour paintings can also be purchased too (if still available).
I also sell my work at various country fairs and exhibitions throughout the year where it is always lovely to meet my customers face to face. You can’t beat a day at a show talking about COWS… Plus of course, other animals too!