Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lynn Presland and I paint in pastels and acrylics, working from my home in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
How do you work?
I like to work from sketches with photographs to back them up, although I often see something I want to paint when I don`t have my sketchbook with me. If I have just a photograph for reference, I firstly do a tonal sketch so that I can see the notan and re-arrange the composition. I do a colour sketch, and then a further colour sketch for the under painting. The wonderful Carole Baker taught me how to do complementary colours for this, it is quite complicated but the result can be a very vibrant painting.
What is your background?
As a child with a disability I was always more interested in reading and drawing animals than playing outside. I read numerous books on different breeds of horses, dogs and cats and found that I could draw them easily. At school I won prizes and my dream was to go to art college – unfortunately, I had to leave school and get a “proper job” as a secretary, but never forgot my dream to be an artist.
I got married and had two children, along with many horses, dogs and cats of my own! I went to Chesterfield Art college to do A level Art at the age of 40 and was then able to realise my passion of drawing and painting animals again. I had many requests for commissions and now have animal portraits hanging in homes in various overseas countries, including Russia, Australia, America, Canada, Switzerland and the UK
How has your practice changed over time?
Well, I always thought that I would paint animals forever, and was never really interested in landscapes. I was late in discovering other artists and soon found that I could look at an incredible array of talent on the internet. This really opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities available and I became really excited about trying new media and different ways of painting.
I started to paint landscapes in pastel and just couldn`t stop! I now knew that it was ok to paint in the unrealistic colours I had always imagined landscapes to be. Over the past few years my paintings have evolved into a more impressionistic style (I think!) and I am continuing on my explorative journey. Acrylics are fast becoming my choice of media as I have found that I am slightly allergic to pastel dust, although the pastels will always come out from under the spare bed from time to time as I love them so much.
What themes do you pursue?
Derbyshire landscapes, sometimes with animals in them, and will soon be starting on a Scottish theme and also a Venetian series both inspired by recent visits.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
When I did the Derbyshire Open Arts in 2012 a lovely young art student loved one of my paintings of Beeley Moor. It was the only image that I didn`t have a print of and she became really upset because she couldn`t afford the original artwork. I never thought to take her details and I wish I could find her again and present her with the print she wanted, because her response gave me so much confidence to go forward with my dream of being a professional artist.
Yes, I do find it lonely at times, as I live by myself, but since “finding” Facebook and joining various art groups I have found many artistic friends who are so helpful and generous. I also get out into the Peak District quite often and honestly love the solitude that gives me.
I have a large family and I see my daughter and son in Sheffield quite regularly – they are both very creative and we have so much fun together. When I am home, it is really good to be able to spread my work around the house without getting in anyone`s way!
What do you dislike about your work?
I dislike the artistic blocks that I heard so much about and didn`t understand until it happened to me.
I try to counteract these by trying something new, and I have found that playing with Brusho and mixed media really frees me up!
What do you like about your work?
I love it when I realise that several hours have passed since I first started painting, and it seems like only minutes. At those times I feel so “in the zone”, uplifted and lucky to be doing what I am doing.
What`s the best piece of advice you`ve been given?
To paint what you love and know best!
Our main exhibition programme continues with Jenny Oldknow's 'Autumn Song' in the main gallery.