Why I enter the Wildlife Artist of the Year?

Why I enter the Wildlife Artist of the Year?

Phew, it's hot here in Devon, not that I'm complaining, I love the summer and look forward to it  every year ,after the colder winter months. I live in a small, very small Mid Devon village in the heart of the countryside. We have lived here for 20 years and have grown to love it. However in the past few months we have come to truly appreciate what a privilege it is to have a garden and long country lanes to escape to. I look out at the rolling hills, the high hedges and  green lanes .Devon is a lovely place, with a north and a south coast, Dartmoor and Exmoor, we in the middle are left pretty much alone. 

I like to describe myself as a self taught artist, but I suppose that isn't really true for any of us. I have read books, and looked at other artist's work. I have asked questions and picked up any information I could. Discarding bits I found unhelpful, using those that worked. I have never stopped learning.

I left school, after failing most of my 'o' levels including art , and at 18 began my training as a nurse for people with learning difficulties. So began a long and happy career in care. I worked in all kinds of settings in the community .I also did a horticultural course at Bicton in my spare time. I toyed with the idea of being a gardener, and I think the love of plants shows itself in my work.

However the 'need' to paint never went away. I painted on my holidays and in my spare time. Whenever at work, something creative was needed, then I jumped at it. I went to life drawing courses in the evening and evening classes on watercolour ( some more useful than others). 

Finally I began work at a Special Needs school, and began working with some pupils on the autistic spectrum , painting and creating as best we could. One of the teachers asked if I painted ( I shyly said that I did) . I brought in some of my work to show her and she promptly asked if she could buy it !!!!

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather, until then I had shown no-one except my family and very close friends. The seed was planted, I began to post work on Facebook and started my own page, and to my astonishment it grew.Watercolours by Rachel was born

 My first post on Face book was back in 2012, I was still working full time , then I went part time and finally became a professional artist. 

 This is one of my early paintings on Facebook, I painted almost exclusively landscapes then. 

Wildlife art came a few months later when someone asked me to paint a hare...always keep challenging yourself you never know what will happen.

So I fast forward to 2020, I now have a studio in my garden 

and I paint every day ( almost) . 

I now paint a lot of wildlife as well as landscapes, seascapes and beach beauties

So why put yourself through the trauma of being judged in a competition? Well I have said I have not been to art school and I work by myself. It all fits into the same reason I post on social media and like to communicate with you all.I like people, I like to connect with people and I like to see if I am moving forward. Being accepted into The Wildlife Artist of the Year is an annual source of excitement , it punctuates my year, and validates ( somewhat) what I am doing.

I never expect to win anything ( but I do dream a bit ) but to be amongst it all is a thrill and a big  pat on the back from an imaginary boss .

However my greatest buzz is still checking the comments, receiving positive feedback from a commission, hearing that an painting of mine has brightened someone's day. When I opened my 'o' level results so long ago and saw that big fat fail for art ( the only thing I had a real enjoyment of at school) , I never ever dreamt that I would be a professional artist , getting into international competitions, and I wouldn't change the route into my artistic career for anything .

 Thanks everyone for being part of my adventure x

 


10 comments

  • Rubia

    Hi Rachel
    Since retiring from primary teaching, I’ve spent much time on fb , and I came across your art . I love nature and animals and find your work so beautiful, relaxing and uncomplicated yet so realistic. I also love your poetry!
    I’ve always wanted to paint, but I’ve not had the chance so I will read your blog and have a go soon.
    Thank you for sharing your gift, It brings so much joy.
    Ps voted for you you.
    Love
    Rubia

  • Elaine

    Good luck! I love your tutorials so home you get something!

  • Penny

    Dear Rachael,
    Each week I look forward and appreciate your beautiful works of art posted on Facebook! Thankyou so much!

  • Nicole

    Hi Rachel, thank you for sharing your story! I absolutely love your art, and you inspire my own dabbles with watercolour so much. I follow you on Instagram and read your blog, and I was so thrilled when I saw your calendar in my local RSPB reserve last winter! Keep painting and sharing, and inspiring people. And good luck with the competition!
    Best wishes
    Nicole

  • Monica

    I think the paths and people we meet along the way are sometimes chance and sometimes a gift, like the teacher who wanted to buy your art opening a door for you to a new reality. You and your art became a gift for me during some of my darkest days in 2014/2015. I lost both my parents 3 months apart. In addition to ill health and other stressors that pale in comparison, let’s just say it was not a good year. Sleep was a memory. I began to color as a form of therapy and also scroll through Facebook in the wee hours. I think I must have seen your page through one of my coloring sites. I can’t remember. But I do remember the first work I saw was one of your hares— staring out from the canvas in a midnite sky. I don’t know why- but it just brought me such peace. I can still feel the sense of being able to really breathe for the first time in months. As if a weight was lifted from my chest. I wanted to collect every hare you had-and that was the beginning of my romance with your work 😊. Your landacapes still bring joy, your wildlife just fills my heart and your beach buddies? ❤❤❤ I have shared your site with others many times and they have all fallen in love with your work. For good reason. You have such a gift! ( I feel sad for your school art teacher- how embarrassing to miss seeing your talent) Congratulations on being entered into the competition- I’ve already voted for you 😊 There are so many layers and nuances to your work.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for stepping out to share your gift, your gentle humor and your lovely moments of peace with us. Blessed be, from Kentucky.

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