The joy of Southwold beach! Nicola Stratton Tyler


Southwold beach is one of my favourite beaches in the UK. When I lived in Suffolk it was only a short drive away. Today it’s a real treat to go to Southwold and soak up the environment and bottle it in my heart to take back to Essex with me. When I look at this painting it reminds me of these memories, for example walking along the beach with my friends and family. One day I hope we will be able to do this again.


I'm so lucky that Nicola is given Wonky Wheel the opportunity to have this painting in the gallery and on our website. This painting a long with a number of others arrived in before November and because of the lockdowns, Tiers and Christmas I never give myself or Nicola the opportunity to have a coffee and sit down and have a conversation about these fabulous paintings. I hope this conversation gives you a little insight into the paintings and the artist.


Q. I would like to ask if you don’t mind, where did you grow up and did it have a bearing on you as an Artist?

A. I grew up in a little village in Essex. I had an idyllic rural childhood, surrounded by fields and woods. I walked regularly on Hatfield Forest (an old indigenous forest now owned by the National Trust) and visited the Essex and Suffolk coastline regularly. I was taught about the nature around me by my mother, who knew all the trees and wildflowers and all the bird calls too. This existence has hugely influenced my art and my choice of subject matter.


Q. Describe a working day as an artist and do you work in a studio or at the location you paint?

A. Well, at the moment it is not easy to work at home as I am no longer on my own! And I have three teenage daughters home-schooling. Carving time out of that for me is tricky. I tend to work outside as much as possible or failing that in my little studio space. If I am working outside, I either load up the car and head off somewhere, or I put my kit in a rucksack and head outside to the immediate landscape. I sometimes work in pastels outside and then bring the sketches back to work into oil paintings. I do love studying light so a day with strong shadows is good. I also love sunsets and sunrises so those are the times of the day I am most likely to work.


Q. Have you had any previous jobs before becoming an Artist?

A. Yes my previous – and in fact existing job is as a fine art valuer. I still work in this capacity too. I trained at Christie’s auction house and then Bonhams, before working independently. It is quite unusual to appraise art and value it and then to wear another hat and be a practicing artist. I think doing both makes me very appreciative of both professions.


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

A. I think a good tip is always to have a go. No one need see what you have done and all artists have good and bad days, which can sometimes be quite demoralizing. But the more you practice the better you will get.


Q. What music do you listen to when you are working?

A.I sometimes listen to music – I love early choral music, which probably sounds dull! But I find that really emotive. Most of the time though I listen to podcasts. This American Life is a favourite.


Q. What piece of equipment can’t you do without?

A. There are quite a few pieces of equipment I can’t do without - wood, paints, pastels, brushes, cleaner. My favourite item is a particular brush. Annoyingly I have worn off the details of it so cannot replace it online. I will have to wait until the shops are open again and I can find one the same or similar.


Q. The main theme of paintings with Wonky Wheel is the sea, what other themes inspire you to work on?

A. The sea is obviously a massive draw for me, but I do love landscapes as well. I am also quite obsessed with skies – you might have noticed! I like the transcience of light and the power in nature. However, sometimes I just sit and paint what is front of me at home – flowers in a vase, the Christmas tree….I think it is good practice and helps me to look more carefully.


Q. Why do you enjoy painting the sea and landscapes?

A. I think that the thing I love about landscapes and seascapes, like all nature is that they never sit still. There is always movement and I try to capture that dynamic quality.

Q. What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

A. The thing I love most is the escapism. I am completely engrossed and lost in the moment when I work. I have to confess thought it is rather like a drug – and I just can’t stop!


Q. What have been your highlights or biggest achievements so far?

A.I have been shortlisted for a couple of art prizes which was very satisfying, and last year the National Trust bought a few of my works. Just recently a couple of very well-recognised artists have been complimentary about my work and because I revere them myself that was very pleasing.


Q. How would you describe the life of an artist in just 3 words.

A. Challenging. Escapist, joyous.


Q. What advice would you give to younger self about starting a career as an artists?

A.I would tell my younger self not to worry too much about what other people think and just to go ahead and do it.


Thank you Nicola for your time today in sharing with our customers some insights into you artwork .Nicola also very kindly did a drawing for our Community Colouring book which is available to buy from our website. All the funds go to the location GP's surgery CREAMER Fund. All of Nicola's work is available on display in the gallery and on our website. You can find out more about Nicola by clicking here.


Nicola very kindly submitted a drawing for the colouring book and I had the honour to sit down one wet Sunday afternoon to start colouring in this fabulous drawing, take a look....