Artist Interview - Liz Chaderton
Updated: May 18, 2018
Liz Chaderton began working with Wraptious after winning our Autumn competition in 2015. Her bright water colours have been an instant hit, and we've enjoyed adding her range to the website and to the trade shows. She kindly spared a few moments to tell us more about her work, and her top tips for new artists...
Which artists have inspired you the most?
That's a huge question! I think Goya wowed me the most as a teenager. Some of his work looks so contemporary and speaks to us today, yet it was painted around the 1800s.
Of all the work you've produced, which is your favourite piece?
I have two favourites. The first is a picture of three cows. I was going to evening classes and we were looking at tone, swapping colours around but keeping tones constant. I had a lightbulb moment as some yellow, orange and purple cows appeared and thought 'wow, watercolour doesn't have to be boring or traditional'. It hangs on my dining room wall. A more recent one is of two goats; I like that it always makes people laugh when I display it and it is just how I wanted it to be.
How did you first start promoting your artwork? What tips can you give us? My top tip is to be brave and jump in. I was terrified when I first submitted some work to a local charity exhibition - literally shaking. I thought they might laugh at me when I went to drop it off. Starting with local exhibitions, or finding space in libraries/cafes or other public spaces, gives you confidence to push yourself forward. The buzz from my first sale was amazing, my poor family had to pull me down from the ceiling.
Second, would be to use the internet and social media - share your work and listen to feedback. Don't just listen to the people who say 'Love it'.
I have been tremendously lucky to be supported and encouraged by other artists. Do your best to get in with a group who are on the same journey. If they are a little ahead of you, so much the better, so that you can learn from their successes and failures. Having some support and encouragement is so important. It seems to me that there are many amazingly talented folk around and the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful (depending how you measure it) is that the successful are always pushing forward and taking risks.
How often do you produce a piece of artwork?
Not often enough! I am very busy doing all sorts. I write (commercially, not creatively), I have two teenage sons, I teach and tutor watercolours, we have a large veggie patch and chickens. In short, everything competes for my time. I try to paint daily and fail dismally. Then I will have a burst of creative energy and produce lots of pictures in a short time.
What's the most challenging part about being an artist?
Trying to push yourself forward and not get stuck in a rut. If the way you paint turns out to be popular, galleries are keen to have work with a good sales history and you end up being asked to paint more of the same. It is very easy to do end up doing the same thing over and over, but not very rewarding or challenging.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
When I get an email from someone who has seen or bought a painting to say how much they love it, or if a commission makes someone cry (from happiness I hope) then I am really chuffed.
What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Drawing underpins everything, constant practise improves skills, supportive yet challenging people keep you going and above all have fun and be true to yourself. People will tell you that you would be more successful if you do x, y or z, but if your heart is not in it what is the point?
How do you create a piece of work? What's your process?
I paint subjects I know - no zebras for me, as they are few and far between in Berkshire. So it will be domestic or farm animals, UK wildlife or hedgerow subjects. If you have a personal knowledge and connection it shows. I try to draw from life if possible and research how other people approach a subject to try and make my own work different, then I will sketch ideas and think about colour palettes which support what I am trying to say. I try to find the essence of the subject, and work out what is superflous. In watercolour what you leave out is just as important as what you put in. Then I try to stop procrastinating and get stuck in.
What are you currently working on? And what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I am working on painting watercolour on canvas. New priming products can help the paint work on canvas and you do not need to glaze it if you seal the surface. Suddenly you are not constrained by size and weight and there is no glass barrier between the image and the viewer. It is very liberating, but quite hit and miss! I also want to work on more mature compositions. I tend to do simple animal studies and I want to keep the freshness but work in some complexity - maybe get a bit more 'grown up'. Finally, I love lino cuts and I really need to carve out some time to work on those.
What's your biggest ambition?
I would love to write a book on watercolour painting. I love teaching and running workshops and in my other-life I write, so it seems like an obvious ambition. I am limbering up by blogging step-by-step guides when time allows. My other ambition is to go on an art safari - wouldn't that be amazing?
And finally, what three things could you not live without?