The animal world in watercolour

Time to turn on the spotlight for another wonderful artist: Liz Chaderton… I’ve been following Liz on twitter for a while now and I just love her work (and I mean love in all capitals). One day when she replied to me on Twitter asking me if I wanted to be her agent it made me smile and I was flattered.
I thought, there’s no way I would be the right person to do that. But it made me think about how I could contribute a little to get her work seen and appreciated by more people… So I wrote her an email to ask her if I could show her work here on my blog…. and she said yes! Insert a happy dance here…….

Below you will find just a small selection of her work, but I do hope you will check out the links at the bottom of this post to all her work. Enjoy the story of the life and work of Liz Chaderton….

I live in Berkshire, in what you might call a semi-rural location, but unfortunately with the planes going overhead into Heathrow it’s not as bucolic as I would like. Funnily I was born not too far away in Wallingford, but was brought up in Wiltshire and have moved around all over the country. I’ve also spent a stint in South Africa doing voluntary work and back-packed across Asia and Latin America.

My strong child hood memories are of drawing, drawing and drawing. When I was around 10 years old, my prize possession was an A2 pad of cartridge paper and I would spend Sunday afternoons doing detailed drawings of horses and ballerinas for hours at a time. I kept up art despite opposition at school (bright ‘gals’ were meant to study real subjects at grammar school) and took it to A level. I was offered a place on a Foundation course, but bowed to pressure and studied Psychology at university. I went on to a career in PR and communications ending up as head of comms for a large automotive engineering plc, but always kept drawing, painting or doing something creative.

In my mid 30s, I became a mum. Having been made redundant while on maternity leave, I found being a full time mum wonderful, but strange having been very focussed on my career. I really needed to get away from my gorgeous children and do something where I was me and not a mummy for an hour or two. So I started an evening class, choosing watercolour. Why watercolour? It was an entirely practical decision based on the fact that if young kids got hold of the paint, I would be able to wash it off the walls (and them). I was hooked.

I love watercolour for its vibrancy, immediacy and the happy accidents you need to embrace, if not to go mad. Also having a short span of attention and low boredom threshold, it allowed me to do what I wanted within the time I had and continually surprised me. I never had the desire to paint traditional watercolour landscapes, so I worked my way through various tutors, books and painted whenever I could to develop my own way of doing things.

The country is in my heart and yearn for my own small holding. Gradually, I began painting more and more animals. I want to share the amazement I feel looking at the domestic and wild animals we take so for granted. I only paint animals I have a direct knowledge of. So parrots and toucans are drawn from zoo and wildlife park visits, as they don’t tend to fly free in this part of Berkshire. Secretly, I hope that if people see things the way I do, perhaps we will care for our environment better and take animal welfare more seriously. The recent badger cull is a case in point.

Colour and pattern, not details are my passions; how colours work together, mix, interact; texture and pattern in everyday subjects and unexpected places are what interests me. Above all, I want my paintings to make people smile, use their imagination and think twice.

Once my children were school age, I started freelance writing, which allows me the flexibility to be around for them, but also the chance to use my brain. I edit a couple of trade magazines, as well as copywriting for various clients.

About five years ago, I began exhibiting my paintings thinking that if I could sell one I would be over the moon. It was so nerve wracking having my work hang on walls for random strangers to laugh at and criticise (you can see how confident I was!), but then I sold the first one and my family had to pull me off the ceiling. I continued to show at local art exhibitions and set myself the target of taking part in an arts trail and getting into a gallery in 2013. I am delighted to say, I now have my work in six across the Thames Valley and I took part in both the Henley and Wokingham trails in 2013.

I also started lino printing again, as there is such a strong link between seeing light and shade in both printing and watercolour. It is more for personal pleasure than public consumption and I do get through a lot of plasters while I carve!

This year’s target was to get my work published and start running workshops. I have just signed a contract with Artko and they will be publishing seven images from the autumn. I have also run three workshops and done a few demonstrations (how scary are demos?) and have a number more booked. I absolutely love running workshops – how brilliant it is to share your passion and see people learn and develop.

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