Lucy Clayton is a local artist based in Tunbridge Wells.
Inspired by food and nature, we are delighted to have a number of her prints on display in our Calverley Road Design Studio.
We spoke to Lucy about her work, and her involvement with the Kent Painters Group whose annual exhibition and sale raises funds for three local mental health charities (Sevenoaks Mencap, Rethink Mental Illness and The Friends of Dartford Road).
How would you introduce yourself?
I’m an artist, specialising in still life, mainly with watercolours at present. I find myself inspired by food and nature. I enjoy working with colours and textures and I love creating pieces which evoke the senses, not just the sight of the subject but also the taste, touch and smell of it.
Tell us about your most recent work…
I recently finished a piece on Wisteria. I love Wisteria. We have a lovely old one in our garden and I feel like I could almost drink it; the smell is so incredible! I began by creating a detailed drawing so I could understand the wisteria’s patterns and twisting shapes. Then I used a form of mono printing to create a textured outline, before gradually build up layers of watercolour.
What do you enjoy about the creative process?
I think it’s the fact that I’m always learning. Even now. I have a solid background in art. I’ve studied print, sculpture, fine art, photography, textiles and many more and yet I feel like I’m still growing. I think that’s what keeps me going and keeps me wanting to work with watercolour. The sense that it’s always evolving. That I can always do more. Every piece I do I feel like I have to start from scratch and ask myself a series of questions; how will I mix that colour? How will I control it? How will I layer it to get the desired result? I use a ‘wet on wet’ technique and it’s a different way of thinking. I’m not sure I’ll feel like I have ever truly mastered it!
Where do you get your inspiration?
For me a lot of my inspiration is sensory, it’s hard to explain but when I touch things I see colour, it’s almost like I can taste them. With the blackberries, for example, I began with pale washes of red and purple, then I start to build up with stronger tones to get that sense of depth. I want to create something that is almost 3D in its appearance. It helps that I tend to work with still life, so I can set it up, light it and it doesn’t move (laughs). I tried to paint some monkeys at a zoo once (laughs again) and that wasn’t very successful! I think I tend to take a very methodical approach. One of the subjects I like to work with is shellfish as I love being by the coast and I have such fond memories of rock pooling in Devon as a child and also with my own children, so a lot of my work is inspired by those memories and feelings. That said, even still life can have its challenges, I had some langoustines in the fridge once for a piece I was painting and the smell was horrendous! Everything in the fridge started to stink. I even had the children’s Easter Eggs in there and the smell got in to them as well. Fish flavoured chocolate (laughs) so it’s not always as romantic as people might think!
What do you hope other people will enjoy about your work?
I know it sounds cheesy but I just hope my work can brighten up someone’s room and bring them joy. There’s lots of different art in the world, some is intended to make a political statement, some is full of angst. I’m very aware that mine is purely decorative, but that’s just me. That’s my observation of the world. I like to see the beauty. I guess it’s a kind of escapism of sorts. If someone is kind enough to put my art on their wall and it brings a smile to their face, I’m happy.
Tell us about your involvement with the Kent Painter’s Group…
I’ve been fortunate enough to exhibit a few times with Kent Painter’s now and I can still remember that first phone call where they told me I had been accepted. It was so funny, because it was my first proper exhibition so I was really excited. I was whooping away to my friend in the background and I didn’t realise that the lovely Dani, from KPG, was still on the ‘phone and she could hear me! They are such a lovely bunch of people, they really look after you and it’s such a fantastic organisation, with the proceeds going to three mental health charities. I’m really pleased to be involved with it and in many ways their support has given me the confidence to try other things, like joining The Society of Graphic Fine Art, so I am really grateful to them.
Which other artists should people look out for?
That’s a tough one! There are so many wonderful artists who are involved. If I had to pick three I would probably go with my dear friend Elaine Gill, we used to do the markets together, trying, with varying degrees of success, to sell our work, but we always had such a laugh together, lots of bacon butties and coffee! Then there is Ann Bridges, she is a print maker and she does all these lovely luscious fruits which really appeal to me. I also really admire the work of Antonia Enthoven, who creates these little etchings of arm chairs representing people. They’re lovely, really beautiful.
Rencraft are proud sponsors of the Kent Painters Group Annual Art Exhibition & Sale which, this year, is taking place online between the 30th October and 30th November.