Paula, have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always enjoyed painting and creating. Except when I was little and then I wanted to be a Zoo keeper!  Paint, paper and glue were far more accessible than a Tiger or an Elephant.  It’s not what it is …it’s more about what it could be.  Arts and crafts have always gone hand in hand during my life.

You specialise in contemporary realistic paintings, has this always been your style of choice and if so why?

I just love colour and detail! I started with watercolours, dabbled in oils then discovered the wonderful vibrancy of acrylics.  Each new subject is a personal challenge, an exploration to depict new effects and textures. Every painting is a learning curve.

 

The Silence and the Crow by Paula Oakley
The Silence and the Crow by Paula Oakley

How would you describe your creative process?

It all starts with the excitement to capture a particular view or subject. The moment when you can’t sleep at night for thinking about how you will achieve the desired effects and you can’t wait to awake in the morning to get started!

Firstly, I start with a simple sketch; nothing too detailed as the first coat of paint covers it up. Perspective and scale are the most important things, then it’s hours and hours of pure self-indulgent painting – bliss!

Where do you seek inspiration?

Most of my paintings are inspired by my surroundings.  I am very fortunate here in East Sussex to live close to the South Downs and the colourful seaside beaches.  Many days are spent exploring the footpaths and lanes to discover and share the wonderful scenery around me.  I take loads of photographs along my route and use them for reference in creating my artworks.  The views constantly change with the seasons and never fail to make me stop and think “wow!”  I paint those “wows! “, I capture the moment and I evoke memories of the past and create them for the future.

 

WIP - The Old Mill Stream by Paula Oakley
WIP – The Old Mill Stream by Paula Oakley

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m very disciplined with my art. I start painting around 7am and work through till about noon. Each painting takes around 45 hours and it needs to dry properly before I can add the next layer to ensure that the detail remains sharp.

If I’m not painting then I’m out exploring…a new adventure and the prospect of a new painting, it’s a never-ending journey of delight.

Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?

I’ve never studied any artists although I rather like Norman Rockwell’s art.  I’m self taught and would rather learn by experimenting than influence.  It’s pure stubbornness, you know.

Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?

Silence is golden when I’m painting as I’m easily distracted. My musical taste is rather noisy and it’s quite impossible to paint detail and headbang at the same time!

 

Paula Oakley out and about
Paula Oakley out and about

If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?

Follow your heart. Create what makes YOU happy and stick at it.  They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and not everyone likes the same thing, it would be a dull and boring world if they did!

If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 guests, living or deceased who would they be and why?

Oh….Spike Milligan to make me laugh. Rudyard Kipling to delight me with his stories and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) for some after-dinner entertainment :).

 

High Tide and Riverside by Paula Oakley
High Tide and Riverside by Paula Oakley

What does the future look like for you?

Who knows what the future holds? I take each day as it comes and I relish in the small delights that come my way. I will continue to walk, to paint and to make memories.  I like to think that it will be a little bit brighter, a little bit clearer and a little bit more colourful than real life!