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Owl and Brolly Sunday Artist Interview

Over the next coming Sundays I shall be posting my own artist interviews with some of my favourite people who reside in this multitalented world of art… Today we have the lovely Sue Hutchings from “Owl and Brolly” to answer a few questions… over to you Sue!

First of all, who are you?

Hello, and thank you for wanting to know a bit more about me 🙂 
I’m Sue and I live in my home county of Dorset in the UK. I am the artist and illustrator (Dorset Studio) behind my brand of wall stickers that I make at Owl and Brolly. I’ve been illustrating wall stickers now since late 2012, my own range since June 2013, but I’ve been an artist for nearly 30 years. 
These days each day is filled with illustrating wall sticker designs, always starting with a sketch before taking it into my design software and then creating a digital version. When I am not designing or changing colours to colour match with decor for people, I am printing off the stickers on a huge machine, before giving them time to cure, and preparing them to post.
I started to do more digital art due to chronic abdominal pain from endometriosis and nerve pain that I suffer from. It is easier to hit an undo button when you make a mistake through lack of concentration than it is to ruin a painting that’s taken a while to complete. I’m ever so grateful that I have adapted and evolved, and I am always excited to start each day not knowing what is ahead, and making the most of each day

When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  What did you answer?

It was always going to be something arty. I’ve always been creative. Both Mum and her Mum were arty, and both my Sisters are creative. Mum knew when I was little that I would be some form of artist, when I raided her cotton box and just stitched a robin on some fabric using rust coloured red sewing threads. I still have that robin, on my desk. She also bought me my first artist quality watercolour set when I was 15 for my GCSE’s which I was able to use when I then went to art college to study Natural History Illustration for 4 years.

What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?

Probably the time when were early in our marriage, going on holiday. I have always sketched a memory to bring back, more than the photos, so I take a portable kit with me in the case. On this occasion we were stopped going through luggage control and hubbies backpack gets pulled out and my tin of watercolours is in there. No problem. What was the issue was the metal scalpel I’d automatically included to sharpen my pencils. The irony is that they confiscated only the handle and not the blade! (this was a few years back before regulations really tightened though) I still remember that it was his bag that got stopped and not my own lol. Oppps

What is the hardest part of being creative?

Not enough hours in the day, or enough space to house all of my stuff – but then if I had more room I would only fill it lol! I really envy people who have 1 draw filled with watercolours and brushes, and a shelf for some watercolour paper, and a nice sized desk in a sunny spot, and that’s it. 
I love so many different media, watercolours, acrylics, fabrics, paper, digital art, photography…. I have a big studio that I use to process my wall stickers in where much of my art things are stored, but the remainder of the sticker side of business is in the house.  I get to dip into different art on Sundays and love that I can combine all my art styles in to my wall stickers now, either traditionally painted or using digital methods based on my watercolours.
Don’t get me started on what happens when I am so absorbed in working when I am in the zone…. cooking goes by the wayside, as does the cats, till I feel a paw prodding my lap reminding me of serving duties. Time just flies. Thankfully I have an amazing man who picks up after me when I need him to as he sees I am following my dream.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Don’t be afraid. Do lots of exploring/experimenting, and trying of different things. Learn what you can and do the parts you love. I always loved the thought that once you have learned the rules then you can break them. I am grateful that I had lots of tutors with different styles at college, but knew I gravitated to very fine detail. It was only on leaving I felt I had the freedom to really explore other sides of my creativity.  I didn’t have much in the way of digital art then, and fell into photoshop for fan art graphics in 2006, but have been a daily user of photoshop since then, and illustrator a few years after that. It is so scary to think that when I graduated, what I am doing now wasn’t even a ’thing’.

What subjects inspire you?

Nature. Hands down. I love to capture animals and fur with detailed watercolour, painting raining landscapes in acrylics, and the shimmering colours on the horizon in fabrics and felt. The wall stickers are inspired by nature in so many ways, especially the fairy trees. I am always taking photos of ivy laden tree stumps when out on walks especially by our local river. I love to go for walks with hubby, but I get to use my camera a lot more when I amble on a walk on my own. 
I am also hugely inspired by children. I love their free imaginations, that can sometimes get stilted the older you get. When I get asked to do a specific wall sticker design that a child has requested I really do do my best to deliver on their vision 🙂

Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)

This is going to be so hard! First up, a lovely friend of mine Rosie who lives on Sark. We went to college together and her fresh style with flowing watercolour is as wow to me now as it was back then. She is very gifted, and is a huge inspiration to me. 
2) Another friend I’ve known for an age, Erica who paints the most exquisite miniature paintings and is part of several societies. 
Lastly, thinking fondly of the art of Elaine Franks. My auntie bought me a book in my teens of her sketchbook art ‘The undercliff’, a mix of pencils and paint and I have poured over it often to this day. It is always an inspiration of nature at it’s best and a great reboost when I find my own creative pot running dry.

Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?

I grew up loving the art of Monet, Turner and Gordon Beningfield. I love the freshness of their work and each of them have their own passion for painting that is still there in every piece to see. I poured over their works while at art college too, especially Beningfields butterflies. I’m still gutted he is gone 🙁

What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?

That would be my watercolour tiger. Done at 18, it was done in a class when everyone else except one other used a different media to the watercolours we had used for the last 2 years. I though had no plans to change from watercolours and so wanted to stick to doing it my way. I was offered a large sum for it back then by someone who was buying art for corporate use, but I declined, as it was too important for me to keep. As a result of having painted that, I got a lot of requests for animal portraits, which paid for that tiger many times over and started me on the journey I am on today. I don’t ever regret keeping it and it belongs on my office wall.

What was the last piece of art you sold?

My enchanted fairy tale castle book wall sticker, which is involving some newly created techniques in my design process. I am tickled with how this turned out, and I hope I can capture the same feel with many of my new designs to come too.

And finally… Because this is really important….

What’s the best type of cheese?  (haha)

LOL oh dear, you mean you are making me choose?? *ponders for an age* It would have to be, for now, fresh mozzarella, because I can use it mixed with other things to make a yummy low carb pizza base 🙂

Thank you so much for some really good questions 🙂 It’s been a challenge to answer them!
I have my main website as well as my facebook and Instagram pages. all I need now is more time to finish setting up my Etsy shop too x

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