Our competition winner this year was the incredibly talented Sue Gardner. We love her vibrant animal oil paintings and her amazing eye for colour and detail...we're actually a bit jealous!
We asked her some questions about her work and what inspires her to keep painting.
1) How long have you been painting for? Did you go to art school?
Drawing was always an 'on again/off again' hobby throughout my life.. Six years ago I finally decided to learn to paint, and I have been at the easel daily ever since. I joined a good local art club, watched videos, and took some workshops with artists that I admire, to point me in the right direction.
2) What or who has inspired your style?
As an oil painter, I admire artists too many to name, and particularly enjoy traditional and contemporary impressionism. A big influence on my current work is my environment. We live in the heart of the National Forest, where old mining land has been replanted and turned into beautiful woodland and nature reserves. The beauty and drama of the wildlife here is a big inspiration.
3) What's your process when creating an image?
Once I find an idea' or an image that I like, I begin by mixing a big palette of paint with all the values I need to cover the whole canvas. I usually lightly sketch my idea out onto the canvas using a sharpie. I then put the paint on, beginning with darks and big shapes, lighter tones go on last. Lastly, I do a little blending with a clean brush. I leave the painting to dry overnight. Once the surface is touch dry I work back into it again, strengthening shapes, softening edges, and working the smaller details. Most pieces take three or four layers to complete.
4) What are your favourite things to draw?
I love animals, and always have been animal mad so it makes sense that they are my usual subject. I also enjoy painting woodland landscapes and when I get chance I want to practice human portraiture, another fascinating and very tricky challenge.
5) How do you promote your work?
I update my website regularly with new pieces, work in progress and blog posts. I am taking part in open studio events this summer, where I get to chat with people about my work and network with other artists I keep my Facebook and Instagram pages up to date with new work daily and sometimes make connections with collectors in that way.
6) What's the most challenging aspect to being an artist?
I think many artists would agree, the biggest challenge is finding a market for your work, and making consistent marketing efforts. The temptation to stay in the studio and create is great!
7) What piece of advice would you give an emerging artist?
Try and paint every day, I believe that is a good way to get all the practice in.
8) In an ideal world, what would you like to be doing?
I would like to spend much of my time as I do now in the studio. I would also really like to be able to teach painting techniques, and to be involved in collaborative community projects with other artists. If I could run an animal sanctuary at the same time,that would be great :)
You can see more of Sue's work on our website soon, or check out her instagram account @suegardnerstudio