Our next written interview is with Carolynne Winchester, who is a pet and wildlife artist using a variety of mediums like watercolour, colour pencil and mixed media.
Megan: How did it all start for you? When did you start creating your artwork?
Carolynne: I didn’t start to create art until I retired from a 25 year teaching career. (9 years ago)
M: Have you always loved art/wanted to be an artist?
C: I have always loved looking at art and some of my favourite artists are Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet, John William Waterhouse, David Shepherd to name just a few. Just before retiring I tried out watercolour painting at a thank you event for the teaching staff following a very successful Ofsted inspection and I was hooked.
M: What is your favourite medium? Are there any others you would like to try?
C: My first love was watercolour. I was also keen to try out other media and attended workshops on mixed media, acrylic, collage, Chinese painting and coloured pencils. Never oil due to my asthma. I started seriously using coloured pencils 3 years ago and as I have discovered different supports and methods of using them I now use them all for all my Pet Portraits and Wildlife work and love the results I can get with them watercolour pencils also allow me to combine the 2 mediums I love best.
M: What are your favourite tools or products etc. to use?
C: I use Artist quality pencils so I know that the Lightfastness is guaranteed. These are mainly Derwent Lighfast, Faber Castell Polychromos , Caran D’ache Luminance and Aquarelle Museum (watercolour) A few others may be used if a certain colour or intensity is needed in a piece. For supports I usually use Pastelmat Board, Graffix .005 double matt, Fabrano Artistico or Derwent Lightfast.
M: What is your process? How would a piece start and how would you go about completing it?
C: I consider the piece I want to create and try to think about the effect I want to create. This then leads me on to which support would best suit the piece, I then consider the colours needed and this can sometimes bring up a few surprises. I always start with the eyes – they are the very soul of the animal – and if I get them right they really help me with the rest of the piece. As I work on a piece, I try to bring the textures of either the fur, feathers, scales etc to life.
M: What is the inspiration for your work?
C: I have always had a love for nature. I live down the end of a single track lane in a 450 year old cottage surrounded by NT woods. We are visited by Foxes, Deer, Owls, Squirrels, all manner of birds on our feeding stations and the occasional rabbit. Also an abundance of Butterflies, Bees, Dragonflies visiting our wild flower area and small pond. Don’t often see but we also have Badgers and Stoats. I try to use my own photographs but with exotic wildlife this is not always possible but I always ensure I have permission from the photographer.
M: How come your focus is on animals?
C: From a very young age I have loved Owls and they feature frequently in my works. In fact, I am about to start on Florence a Tawny Owl I had the pleasure of photographing on a recent photography day at the British Wildlife Centre. I have occasionally drawn people, landscapes and flowers but they don’t excite me the same way as animals – I love seeing them come to life on my drawing board.
M: Do you prefer painting wildlife or pets?
C: I would have to say Wildlife but occasionally I get asked to do a pet portrait and the subject is just so beautiful and has an expression that I just want to capture.
M: What are the differences between painting pet portraits and painting wildlife?
C: Usually the quality of the photograph. Unless I can take the photo myself, Pet photographs can often be poor quality. Difficult when the client wants that particular pose because it has special meaning to them.
M: Are there any artists whose work inspires you?
C: Many artists have influenced me along my journey either from attending their workshops or seeing their own finished artworks. My main influences with coloured pencils have been Victoria Manser, Bonny Snowden and Lisa Ann Watkins.
M: What do you love about being an artist?
C: I love being able to switch off when I pick up my pencils and become totally immersed in the artwork I am creating.
M: You participate in local art societies, what do you enjoy about being a part of these groups?
C: I enjoy meeting up with other artists and the diversity they can provide. Their monthly demo meetings give different perspectives on art in general. Also the opportunity to attend workshops locally (Covid permitting). They give the sense of belonging to a community
M: How has creating artwork been beneficial to you?
C: Definitely during lockdown, art has provided an outlet – 2 of the art societies I belong to have taken everything online. This has really helped in us all being able to participate and, if on Zoom, to actually keep in contact and see artist friends. I also joined two Patreon sites and being able to dip in an out at my convenience has enabled me to learn new skills and techniques and to apply these to my own work.
M: Do you have any advice to give to others about creating artwork?
C: You are never too old to learn new skills. Have a positive attitude to what you are creating. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.
M: Why are you taking part in the exhibition?
C: I believe Southern Nature Exhibition is one of the major exhibitions in the south and is an excellent way to showcase my artwork. I am also going to be part of the Art Market this year – a first for me – so will be demonstrating at my table as well as having some goodies featuring my artwork. Looking forward to chatting to the public about my artwork.
M: What artwork can we expect to see at the exhibition?
C: I am entering 4 pieces – African Painted Dog, Tree Frog, Tawny Owl and Urban Fox Cubs.
M: How can people find your work?
C: I have a website: www.artbycarolynne.com
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Art-by-Carolynne-104545504243513/