I have to admit right away that I am definitely not in the first flush of youth! But right from my earliest years I always loved painting, drawing and doing anything arty-crafty that I could find, even though no-one else in the family I was brought up in was in the least bit artistic. On one or two occasions when I was in the Infants School, my (adoptive) mother encouraged me to take a drawing or painting in to school to show my teacher, but I soon caught on that if I did, I would be asked to take it to show every single class in the school - not an enjoyable experience for a shy five year old!
Throughout my school years, art and craft continued to be my main hobby. I was told when it came to A level exams, that I had to take three academic subjects, and art did not come into that category. But I dug my heels in and informed my teachers that I would take three academic subjects plus art as well. In those days it was not common for anyone to take art to A level, since art was not considered a “useful” or “serious” subject. And when it came to applying for college or university, I wanted to apply for Art College, but that was an absolute “NO, NO”. Under no circumstances would a "respectable” young lady go to Art College, which was considered a den of iniquity and the precurser of a decadent and Bohemian lifestyle!!!
One notable thing happened when I was 10 or 11. A friend of my adoptive mother’s, who lived next-door-but one to us, bought me a set of oil paints for my birthday, and she spent some time teaching me how to use them. This was in the 1950s, when oil paints were most unusual and very hard to come by (acrylics hadn’t yet been invented). I was delighted. Only in the last few months have I learnt that this lady was my birth mother! She was an artist herself and obviously wanted to encourage me to use my talents. I never knew she was my real mother, so I was bowled over by this recent discovery! But at least it made sense of my life-long desire to draw, paint and make things.
I became a teacher, and art was not one of the subjects I taught, though there is hardly any period in my life when I did not dabble in painting as a hobby. At the age of 20 I went to evening classes at Birmingham College of Art. The tutor was brilliant, teaching basic drawing skills that have been invaluable to me ever since. He told me I could be a professional artist by the age of 30. But I was just about to get married and start a family, so I never did take steps towards art as a career.
After having my family and doing some more teaching, my husband retired and we moved in 1999 to the west coast of Wales, where I joined two local Art Groups. A professional artist I met, after looking at my work, asked me if I ever sold my paintings. I had never even tried to. “You ought to” he replied! This was the impetus I needed to take my painting seriously. In the following years I painted landscapes, mainly in pastels, and produced greetings cards from my paintings, which were very popular with the holiday-makers who visited the area in summer. During this time I painted quite a lot of commissions, mainly landscapes but sometimes dog portraits. When an Arts and Crafts Co-operative was set up in a nearby town in 2005, I became a member and sold not only paintings and greetings cards but various hand-painted decorative gift items, including items of silk painting and wet-felting.
Recently, after being inspired by an Irish artist whom I met in Donegal, I have started to work with wet-felting again, creating atmospheric pictures in wool. I find this very satisfying because the outcome is relatively uncontrollable, and it gets me away from the meticulous detail to which I always veer. (“Purple sunset” is an example of this). Some of my more experimental pieces of work are the ones which I am most pleased with - my “pointillist” paintings are great for making me paint loosely (“Blast from the Past” is an example), and in the last couple of months I have also completed a few experimental watercolours using various different techniques (“Bright Interval” is an example). I enjoy mixed media using found materials and acrylic inks, and these have been very satisfying to create. (“Hillside Profusion”). Loosening up my acrylics has also been a specific aim, which I feel I achieved in my painting of “Carr Bridge”.
What irritates you?
Being a realist, and knowing my own shortcomings, I am not often irritated by people or circumstances.
Who do you most admire?
In general I don’t have any heroes or figures to whom I would aspire, either, because even the greatest achiever or the most famous personality is human and fallible.
What irritates you?
I get irritated by bad and dangerous driving - it is so thoughtless and dangerous for others.
Who would you most like to meet (anyone dead or alive)?
If I were pressed on this one, I would say the person I would really have loved to meet in the flesh would be Jesus, and I would like to be more like him, affirming and encouraging those I meet... but I know I fall far short of that aspiration! Nevertheless, I would like to think that my paintings will bring beauty, joy and something positive to those who see them.
Who is your hero/who do you most admire?
My hero is my late husband, his endurance and spirit during his short illness was so inspirational for me.
What motivates and inspires you?
I am inspired by the beautiful landscape and coastline around me in Plymouth. Colour has a very strong emotional resonance for me, and such things as a sunset sky and the sparkle of sunlight on the sea always cause my spirits to rise. In particular, I am fascinated by the contrast of light and shade, dark and light. Strong, defined, often bright colours are my favourites, and in general I avoid muted colours. I also find fascination in patterns and mechanical structures, and have even done paintings of motorbike engines and steam locos!
What is your favourite place?
Although I love the British coastline, my favourite place of all is the Coromandel Coast in New Zealand, particularly Cathedral Cove, where a short scene of one of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia scenes was filmed. I have done many sketches and painted several pictures of its exquisite scenery.
What's your favourite book or film?
I love reading and appreciate good writing, having dabbled in creative writing myself. The best book I have read in recent years is definitely “The Book Thief”, a heart-warming story of a young girl’s survival in a Nazi-occupied village in the Second World War. It is a really positive and life-affirming book, which is written in a style which was engaging and easy to read.