Artist of the Month Exhibition - Preview evening live on Instagram at 7pm, Friday 31st July 

 

"I'm thrilled to be chosen as Artist of the Month at the Wonky Wheel. Small galleries like this are at the heart of art and cultural life across the country. I hope people will come along to support the exhibition - and the gallery. Mary has done a fantastic job making the space safe and attractive for visitors."

 

 

About Laura

 

I specialise in oil paintings inspired by gardens, fields and woodlands. I am interested in the beauty and the fragility of the world around us and representing something mortal or ephemeral in a permanent image.

I have always felt a very strong connection to the natural world from my earliest days climbing trees, making dens and discovering creatures in the fields and woods in the small Suffolk village where I grew up. This sense of wonder has never left me but now I feel a much greater sense of responsibility towards it.

I am influenced in part by environmental events on a global scale and the destruction of natural habitats. However, much of my work explores the interesting and sometimes overlooked details of the local landscape and the flora and fauna around us. The idea is that the small things matter as much as the big things.

Immersing ourselves in the natural landscape, away from the busyness of towns and cities, can be uplifting and restorative. My paintings are an attempt to describe a connection with our impermanent and changing world.

After completing an Art Foundation, I spent a further three years studying for a BA (hons) in Art and History of Art at the Winchester School of Art. I went on to complete a Masters Degree in Contemporary Art, Criticism and Philosophy at the University of Essex. More recently I completed a course at Central St Martins specialising in colour theory. 

In the past I have taught art at GCSE and A Level and I have also taught BA (hons) Fine Art students at degree level. I now teach workshops locally.

In preparation for the exhibition Mary from Wonky Wheel Gallery and Laura sat down and had a chat around Laura’s love for art and what inspires the paintings.  

Q: What do you love most about being an artist?

A: The best part for me by far is when I become completely absorbed in a painting - particularly in the final burst of activity as I get to the latter stages. There is something magical about the way the paint moves and responds to the brush or palette knife when you're in full flow. Colours are balanced, tones drawn out, marks are enhanced and what's in front of me changes from a faithful representation into something that has its own life. 

 

Q: How would you describe your painting style and technique?

A: I make expressive oil paintings of animals and flowers. My style is figurative - and employs traditional techniques as a foundation. From this foundation I use expressive marks and brushstrokes to give the subjects drama, energy and life.

 

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: I draw inspiration from the natural world around me. From my back garden to the fields and hedgerows of the British countryside - there is always something to inspire. 

 

Q: How do you begin your paintings? Or does this vary each time?

A: The early stages of a painting come from a combination of sketches and photographs. I also use technology such as PhotoShop to 'collage' elements digitally to test out compositions. 

 

Q: Are there any little tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years, that would help or inspire budding artists?

A: There are so many things I could say I'm not sure where to start! Here are a few of my top tips: 

- Try to sketch as often as you can. 

- Take time to notice the small things as well as the big things all around you. Inspiration is everywhere - the patterns of tree bark, old leaves, the shadow cast by a flower, the way light hits a bowl of fruit. 

- Appreciate the world around you in all its visual splendour! 

- My favourite piece of advice to give to students is, 'Stop listening to your brain!'. Your brain creates shortcuts or 'schema' and stops you from seeing truthfully. You have to learn to override what your brain thinks is there and see what is actually in front of you - as if for the first time. In other words: Draw what is there - not what you think is there. 

- A 'quick and dirty' tip for checking tonal values is to take a photo of your subject on your phone and change the settings to black and white. You might be surprised at the difference between the dark and light areas! 

- Keep on creating - and have fun with it.

 

Q: How do you create the perfect atmosphere / environment for painting?

A: The quality of light is the most important thing for me. I actually make most of my paintings in my dining room - because it has far better light than in any other room. In reality it's more about mindset than physical space (although you do need to be able to create a mess!). Try to make time for painting or drawing as often as you can - and dedicate that time and mental space to doing it often and fully. 

 

Q: What do you personally find the most challenging thing about being an artist?

A: I am an over-thinker, which can be a real challenge for an artist as it can stifle creativity and hinder expression if it's not kept in check. I try to keep quite disciplined with time so I dedicate slots of time to the various aspects of running an art business so that nothing gets left behind and I don't dwell on the minutiae of one thing for too long at the expense of others. 

 

Q: What’s the highlight of your career so far, or your proudest moment?

A: I think my proudest moment has to be painting two enormous elephant sculptures for the Elmer's Big Parade sculpture trail in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice in 2019. It was such a lovely experience to watch families running up to the Elmers I had painted with looks of utter joy on their faces!


Q: Who is your favourite artist, and why?

A: There are so many, it's very hard to choose so I'm going to cheat and give you a selection! Goya (in his Black period) for his expressive brushstrokes and dark drama, Artemisia Gentileschi for her dramatic compositions and narrative, Paul Klee for his mastery of colour, Paula Rego for her use of storytelling, Mona Hatoum for making ordinary things disturbing, Rachel Ruysch for her spectacular flowers (and winning the lottery twice in her life - which doesn't seem fair!), John Singer Sargent's amazing portraits, Turner's epic landscapes, Gustav Klimt's use of pattern against figurative work, Jenny Saville's glorious painterly bodies. 

This list would probably change on a different day - but this is my top ten for this particular moment in time!

 

Q: What is your favourite piece in your collection for your artist of the month exhibition at Wonky Wheel Gallery, and why?

A: My favourite piece in the exhibition is 'The Protector'. It was completed during the strictest part of the lockdown period and represents some of my feelings during that time. I wanted to paint something that captured the strange times we have been living through and to work through some of my own emotions too. However, I didn't want to paint the anxiety that many of us have been feeling, so I decided to paint what I was desperately craving instead: Something much bigger and more powerful than me; Something that would watch over and protect; Something with grace and beauty that would counteract the chaos. This monumental stag seems to embody all of those things for me. He certainly made me feel better as he watched over me from the easel while his paint dried!

Some of Laura's artwork is stocked in our gallery in Finchingfield and a selection can also be bought online below.

Gallery Opening Hours 
Mon 10am to 4pm
Tue by appointment only 
Wed & Thur 12noon to 4pm
Fri & Sat 10am to 4pm 
Sun 11am to 4pm 
The Green
Finchingfield, Essex.
CM7 4JS 
Info@wonky-wheel.co.uk 
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