How did you become an artist?
It sounds clichéd but it’s what I always wanted to do, from a young age I loved to create. I used to love going on nature walks and coming home with pockets full of shells and seeds. I toyed with graphic design for a while, but it was painting that excited me and I chose to study Fine Art. I had a fantastic tutor at University College Falmouth and went on to win the Midas Award when I graduated, which gave me a head start into the competitive art world. My first solo exhibition was at the Newlyn Art Gallery a year later and it went from there.
Can you sum up your work in a sentence?
Experimental, evocative and ethereal; abstract, landscape oil paintings.
What’s your ideal working environment?
My studio at Krowji (the shared creative space near Redruth) suits me perfectly. I like having other creative people doing their thing near by. I once worked next to a corporate office and it just didn’t feel right! At Krowji I have a big open studio, with lots of floor space, lots of natural light, a good sound system and a café on site for treats.
Tell us a little bit about your inspiration and process
I work on lots of paintings at once, building up layer upon layer of thin oil paint, mixed with glazes and other mediums. I look at lots of different sources, including my own photographs and drawings. I have a rough idea when I start a painting and tend to limit my colour palette but it is an organic process, when the painting starts, original ideas get lost and new ones arise and the paintings evolve over time. The hardest part is knowing when to stop!
Your work obviously draws on the landscape. What are your favourite Cornish views?
Trelissick in Feock is a favourite, I enjoy the meadow walk with views of the river Fal and sweeping green hills all around. I also love the north coast, in particular Harlyn Bay beach and the rugged coastline around Chapel Porth near St Agnes.
What are you working on now?
I am building up a series of paintings loosely inspired by the areas where land and water meet, a theme I have been working with for some time now. I am also about to start work on a large commission for a vineyard owner in southern Italy.
Where can we see your work this year?
I have a feature exhibition at Artwave West, gallery in Dorset in April and another show in Falmouth at Beside the Wave Gallery in March. I’ll also be participating in this year’s Open Studios Cornwall event, from 27 May – 4 June.
Can you teach us please?
Yes of course! I am a tutor at St Ives School of Painting, which I love, there is something very magical about working at the Porthmeor studios. I also run one-day ‘Experimental Painting in Layers’ workshops from my studio at Krowji. It’s suitable for all abilities and is a great way to learn a new, unique approach to oil painting (email Amy for details on: email@example.com)
Do you have a favourite painting of yours or one that holds strong memories?
One of my favourites is Deep Sea Dance, a large painting I did a few years ago for the largest floating art collection in the world — on board the P&O cruise ship Britannia. It was my first commission, after having my little boy Henry, and was nearly two metres long. I just loved being back in studio and creating something I knew would be floating around the world. I have great memories of making that painting.
And finally, if you could magically transport one piece of artwork in the world to a wall in your home, what would it be?
This is tricky! But I’d say Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, by JMW Turner. This painting has incredible energy, you feel as though you are moving into the storm when you look at it, it is very moving.
Interview with Sophie Baker, from Muddy Stilettos Cornwall
Photography by Ruaidhri Marshall