I think I always knew that I wanted to paint. But it wasn't until I turned 60 with three sons established in good careers and retired from a successful and stimulating career running my marketing consultancy that I had space to do so.
Water colour and life drawing courses and a Degree Course in Fine Art at the University for the Arts Wimbledon helped me to get started.
Now I work from my studios in Surrey and Devon and all the proceeds from the sale of my paintings are donated to charity. Being able to do something I love and at the same time to contribute to causes that I care about is very fulfilling.
My paintings are abstract to semi abstract and the way I paint is expressionistic, with feelings, experiences and memories coming together as new forms arise until the image reaches a visual harmony which feels right.
I try to paint from 'inside out', expressing my feelings and memories rather than literal representations of the world. My painting is emotive, tapping into intuition and reflections on the ephemeral and ever-changing nature of 'reality’.
My inspirations and the starting points are usually quite literal and specific, frequently something from nature, stimulated by the wonderful countryside where I live in Surrey. But it might just as well be an image from a magazine or the internet. The creative process is similar to the improvisation of a jazz player: a kind of riffing and experimentation around the initial idea using colour, shape and texture. As in jazz, I use discordant elements to highlight the visual harmony. I use colour and texture to create evocative images – seeking vibrant yet subtle colour adjacencies and rich textures using palette knife and sgraffito techniques.
The ‘meaning’ of the work doesn’t lie in what can be recognised, but rather in how a painting makes the viewer feel, the memories and images that they stimulate and the particular and personal emotional responses that they evoke.
I have been supporting Tujatane Trust School in Zambia for many years sponsoring children at the school. The school was set up in 1996 by Vanessa Parker, wife of the owner o Tongabezi Lodge on the Zambezi river, to educate her children and the children of the staff. A teacher before her move to Africa, Vanessa quickly realised that the children from poor families in the surrounding villages had no access to schooling. The school has steadily grown in size and stature, now schooling nearly 300 underprivileged children up to age 15.
When I again visited in 2016 they had recently built an Art and Craft classroom but they had no art teacher and only very limited art supplies. Since then I have sponsored and mentored the art teacher and provided art materials to create a visual arts programme for the children. We are now running art competitions each term with certificates and prizes to motivate and inspire the children.
Textile crafts have become part of that programme involving women in the loacl community and we the opportunity to build a Textile Centre for the children at the school and adults in the area. Generous donations and funds raised by myself and glass maker Adam Aaronson in the recent "Shape of Colour" exhibition mean that we have the funds to start building the centre but we need more to complete it, equip it, supply it with materials and pay for teachers.
£32,500 raised so far
For more information go to their website www.tujatane.com.
Home-Start Guildford a fantastic charity local to me, which addresses a very real need close to home. Home-Start supports families who are finding it hard to cope and who are exhausted or overwhelmed by the challenges of family life. They may not be coping due to post-natal depression, isolation, illness or disability, multiple births, bereavement, abuse, family breakdown ... or any other situation life throws at them! Home-Start's trained parent volunteers give them the help they need to get back on track and give their child the best possible start in life.
I am now a patron of Home-Start Guildford. For more information go to www.hsguildford.org.uk
£11,500 raised so far
The Art Room - which provides art therapy spaces for 5 to 16 year olds who are experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties
Challengers Guildford - dedicated to providing exciting and challenging play and leisure opportunities for disabled children and young adults
The Eve Appeal - supporting the better detection and treatment of Gynaecological cancers through awareness and research