Did you always know that you would be an artist? Where did your involvement in art stem from?
During my childhood in West Africa where we lived on plantations I began painting and won a competition aged 4 years old from a painting, which my mother posted back to England.
I painted African ladies in their brightly coloured clothes carrying pots on their heads.
When we returned to England, at junior school I was awarded with 2 special book prizes from the Royal Drawing Society.When I was 13, I won a competition for painting pastel portraits of the Beatles on television and had a signed letter and a record token. I recently found the film clip on You tube of John Lennon standing in front of my pastel portraits of all 4 of them, being interviewed on Ready Steady Go which was before Top of the Pops
You went to Art College, what was your experience like?
I went to Art College where the classes were mainly boys only 2 girls in our class and I had been at an all girls convent school. I worked very hard at all the classes in drawing, painting, sculpture and design.
I think then I was considered a bit reserved, good at my artwork, but a bit of a square! I soon came out of my shell though a few years later.
How did your interest in landscapes and seascapes develop?
I made my living at art. First, at portraiture as after completing my teaching qualification and art college, I wanted to be self employed then, and planned to teach later in schools BUT due to a divorce at the time and the death of my father I was more suited to working on my own steam…
I painted woodland and rivers in pastels,watercolours and oil……
I painted portraits in pastels and oils, of children, animals and some celebrities and very important people from sittings or photographs including Margaret Thatcher, The Mayor of Westminster the Queen ,a World Judge, an African King and Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Then I painted portraits in the prep schools and the public schools travelling the country and then decided I wanted a change and concentrated on places instead.
I travelled to many places in Southern England and developed a range of nearly 200 watercolour and ink paintings which I began making prints of which I sold enough to eventually buy a house .2 years later I leased a gallery in Cookham High Street, Berkshire where I sold my artwork and other artists work for 8 years. Alongside this I did pet portraits, London scenes and imaginative paintings of seascapes in Cornwall and African jungle and figures in rivers, waterfalls or over water. I had exhibition s in large public buildings, Leisure centres, town halls, art centres cinema foyers and a London Gallery , libraries ,hotel foyers and on the Hyde Park railing in London on Sundays The seascapes developed out of this and were tropical in colour like the John Miller prints which are very popular.
I also did sunsets tropical, abstracts, and textured gold glazed poppy fields and London scenes from the river Thames of Westminster.
When circumstances necessitated that I move to the Isle of Wight I painted the real sea and beaches where I walked for miles everyday, soaking in the changing colours of the sea, sky and sands.
This is why my paintings are now peaceful and relaxing to the mind as leaving all that hard work behind I now paint therapeutic paintings which I hope are relaxing to others as I have been told they are.
Who and what are your main inspirations?
I think I’ve covered my inspirations in the last answer really, although I am interested in the de-stressing effects of art and music. I paint to create something beautiful not to shock or make a political statement.
The escapism of tropical Gaugin paintings,the atmosphere of Turner,
Many paintings online of land and sea but mainly my inspiration comes from my own mind which it always has all my life.
Do you paint from life, or photographs, or both?
From life and memory mainly but some photos of boating, architecture or close up people, details
Could you please describe the practical process you go through when making a painting?
Well what I am describing is how I paint now….. the seascapes
Once the horizon is established I lay in the background colours of the sky sea and the foreground and then just paint, I have an idea in my mind and paint from memory, only using reference material when I have to.. . I find the painting evolves as I do it and I do not draw any detail but paint straight from the brush. I do find that if I paint straight after walking on the beach the colours combinations work as I memorise them all….
I use loads of brushes ,some large and occasionally palette knives but all the texture is in the paint.. I do not use other media for texture……
What does a typical day look like for you?
Drag myself up and out for strong coffee which charges the brain and the ideas and inspirations come from watching the sky and waves and the colours of the day and then go back to the studio and paint, after lunch go for an afternoon walk on the beach and then return to the painting and sometimes continue in the evening as well. This is the normal routine but of course it varies according to the need for trips out in the car to galleries, shopping appointments etc……….
Do you sell internationally?
Anything else you would like add:
Yes…. It is not an easy way to make a living as an artist but it is emotionally rewarding as people are so appreciative and it is a way of life, you are never bored, you are constantly observing and mentally painting all the time….if you are a trained artist you are far more observant of everything and this spills into all areas of your life……
Talking about materials and technique ….. It doesn’t matter what you make art with really (t hink of cave paintings or drawing on walls) its what come from the brain/mind not how you represent something…. The knowledge of colour ,tone, scale etc comes with so much practice that you don’t think about it you just do it and you know when it is right….if you are hung up on technique you cannot get the emotional feel or spirituality coming through in a painting…..
I could painting the same view from memory and my mind everyday and it will always convey a different atmosphere, mood, light every time…..
I find that acrylic offers more scope for less realistic subjective sea and beach paintings than watercolour but occasionally I feel I might like to return to doing some washy watercolour beaches.
View Sandra Francis Online Gallery