Continuing on with the Sunday Artist Interviews – many are lined up, so keep checking back, I think we need a few more distractions from the rather scary times we’re all living in right now! I’ve actually been doing these interviews a year now! Here’s Helen to tell you a bit about herself and her art….
First of all, who are you?
I’m Helen, a mixed media artist living in Buckinghamshire, England. My business is called Helen Fairweather Art, and I create very unique watercolour paintings of country landscapes and villages. Onto my paintings I hand-sew pretty textiles to depict little trees, which create texture and a third dimension in my work. I spend a lot of time searching for beautiful fabrics for my paintings but more recently I have also begun experimenting and painting my own patterns onto fabric. I often embroider flowers onto my work too, and I like to use beads and other items too.
When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you answer?
I have always loved making art of all sorts and yet when I was 9 years old I decided I wanted to be an archaeologist, and ultimately gained a first class degree in the subject from Bristol University! It wasn’t until I met my husband back in 2004 that I began to paint properly for the first time since leaving school. At this point I began selling little ‘ACEO’ miniatures on eBay, and really began to develop my own style.
What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?
Oh golly, I always find these questions difficult…! Well, there was the time that I managed (goodness knows how!) to squirt a quite substantial amount of paint up my own sleeve…!
…Yes, so, I wouldn’t say funny things happen in the studio all that often! …And yet there is often a LOT of laughter here because I love to watch television sitcoms whilst I work! I love old comedies like “The Good Life” and “Open All Hours” and, because I know them so well, it doesn’t matter that I don’t actually see what is happening on the screen all the time! I do feel that the happiness I get from these programmes somehow comes through in my paintings.
What is the hardest part of being creative?
For me I think it is the number of ideas I have and yet never seem to quite have time to put to watercolour paper! I have a notebook containing pages of thoughts and ideas, and gradually I am ticking these ideas off – but it is slow and commissions (which I must admit I do love doing!) take up so much of my time.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Just get creating lots of art! Don’t worry what others think of it, just get it out there and show the world what you do! And work to develop your own style – it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or what the ‘rules’ are, just do your own thing and create pieces that YOU love.
What subjects inspire you?
By far my biggest inspiration is the countryside and nature that surrounds me here in Buckinghamshire – it is a beautiful county. I have always loved nature and wildlife and it is wonderful to be able to include these subjects in the work that I do every day. I enjoy going out for walks with my family, and I always take my camera and sketchbook to record ideas and views as I go along.
Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)
David Hockney – I absolutely adore Hockney’s paintings, especially his more recent depictions of the Yorkshire countryside. I also love the way he uses bright blocks of colour in his work. His work inspires me so much and in so many ways.
Leigh Lambert – He paints monochrome depictions of nostalgic urban life, in which anything ‘fun’ (things that the children in his paintings love) are painted in bright colours. I just love the little bursts of rainbow colour, and the idea of a snapshot of everyday life.
My son – He is 11 years old and always paints from the heart. His pictures are wonderful. He is never tied to convention or the constraints of what/how one maybe ‘should’ paint. I always genuinely feel I can learn so much from him.
Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?
Auguste Renoir – The feathery, pretty brush strokes and the subjects he chose are divine, and I have admired his work since I was a teenager. I would love the opportunity to paint outside more often.
Gustav Klimt – I love the wonderful detail in his pictures of trees, flowers and landscapes.
Hans Holbein – A totally different artistic style, and I think this is the archaeologist/historian coming out in me here(!), but I always find his portraits of the Tudor period fascinating, and the detail in his work is exquisite.
What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?
“A day of Sunshine and Sparkly Seas”
This bright and colourful piece is special to me as it always, always makes me smile because it reminds me of my happy childhood holidays by the sea. I had just discovered a wonderful new floral fabric when I worked on this painting, and it is still a favourite of mine. I also loved working on the beadwork embroidered ox-eye daisies in the foreground because it was one of those ideas that I had had in my notebook for far too long, and I do so love these happy flowers.
What was the last piece of art you sold?
At the time of writing this, it was a painting called “Daffodils,” which was inspired by my family holiday to the Lake District last year. Such an amazing landscape and I came back with far too many ideas for my paintings!
I love this painting and it hung on the wall in my own home for months because I couldn’t let it go for quite a while!
And finally… Because this is really important….
What’s the best type of cheese? (haha)
I LOVE cheese and I think, if I HAD to choose just one, I would go for a simple choice: a nice extra mature cheddar.