What being an artist means for me

Painting at home- here, an acrylic painting of the Taj Mahal, where I met my partner!

Being an artist is being myself, being who I was born to be. I’m very visually aware – quite capable of observing the shape of clouds while driving! ( on a straight and empty road, I hasten to add!)

I’ve been painting since I was a toddler – when I was four years old I shocked my parents by using my paints to “copy” a photo of a Classical Greek nude from my encylopaedia. ( I use the term copy loosely as it wasn’t very good!) When Mum and Dad asked what on earth I was doing, I told them that’s what artists do!

Whatever else has been going on in my life ( and there’s been a lot!) I have always kept my art going, firstly by learning and training : my O and A levels in art, my Diploma in Graphic Design, my time working in a graphics studio, or the countless courses I’ve attended in watercolour, oils, acrylics, life drawing… the books I’ve studied, the You Tube demos I’ve learned from, the TV programmes on painting that I’ve watched, the art competitions I’ve followed and entered, winning prizes…the presentations I’ve given on Impressionism…

Then while teaching I kept my art alive by showing my work over 50 times, often in solo exhibitions… Joining art groups wherever I live, and even founding and running one when I lived in Spain… being a judge for art competitions… teaching drawing and painting in Spain, and now via Zoom… painting countless portraits and pet portraits…

My latest portrait
A recent pet portrait

I’ve been Programme Coordinator for the Arts Society in Javea, Spain, meaning that I researched the world-class lecturers from places like the Royal Academy, the British Museum, the V & A, the Antiques Roadshow etc ; then researched the presentations they were offering and chose / booked them for our society each year. What fun! We had illustrated presentations on Leonardo, railway posters, Art Deco, stained glass, Sorolla, Faberge eggs, and many more subjects.

But mostly I’ve kept my art alive by doing it! I’m one of those people who feels the need to create, to draw, to paint… I feel all wrong if I’m not making art. I suppose doing so much of it explains why my work is so varied – I paint what’s inspired me most recently, whether that is something lovely I’ve seen in reality, like an amazing seascape when I lived on a boat in Spain, or a beautiful garden I’ve visited, or a ballet or flamenco show I’ve seen, or maybe something I’ve seen in a wildlife photo, TV programme, film or book…

The common threads running through all my work are light, colour and movement, trying to produce something which not only captures a moment but suggests the moments before and after it too, the life in that moment. So the movement of an animal, bird or child, the movement of a flamenco or ballet skirt, the movement of clouds or waves..life,really.

I also love to experiment with media and techniques, so often spend a year on oils, a year on watercolours, then a year on acrylics to keep my work fresh. I’m always trying out new things or honing my craft. I’m constantly learning and I love that.

This does of course mean that I have accumulated a lot of work, some of which I sell in exhibitions with the groups I’m in. And now I am working on a 12-month art marketing course to improve my Instagram and Facebook presence, my website, my approach to galleries… and I may create painting courses online.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing… when my husband was taken very ill I cared for him and had little time for art, though a weekly art group was my lifeline. After he died I stopped painting for a while, but the need to paint has grown in me again and is now as strong as ever.

Years ago, just after the millennium, my husband and I were in New York when he helped me to create my first email account. I had to choose an email address for myself very quickly, and although I was working as a teacher at the time, I just blurted out “jantheartist” because that is who I am. Still true today! I think if you cut me in half you’d see Artist written all the way through!

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