We are very pleased that our guest artist this month of February is Deborah Hook, the gallery has definitely taken on a wildlife theme!
Deborah will be painting all day at the gallery on the 8th of February and offering a free signed print as a prize draw to those who come to see her or share this blog or information about her exhibit at the gallery on Facebook. Read below about what inspires her and how she works.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I'm Deborah Hook, and I paint watercolours in a vibrant, realistic style of the natural world.
Why do you do what you do?
Simple, I do it for my boys. They need to learn to respect that everything we have and do costs us time effort and often money. I paint to give them the extras, the holidays in Cornwall. the little treats that may otherwise be taken for granted. But I also paint because I love being creative, it’s a win, win situation.
How do you work?
Slowly, often with music at full blast, also in daylight. I can’t differentiate colour as well in electric light and therefore prefer not to use it. Music, because I can. There's no one to disturb. Slowly, because of the detail.
What’s your background?
Good grief. Where to begin. I will give you the short answer, a Pastry Chef for nearly two decades then towards the end of this I retrained and gained a BA Hons. in Art and Design, specialising in Architectural glass. My main body of work used surface manipulation with acid etch and sand carving. Unfortunately I do not practice this anymore as the work became too heavy for me through health problems, as I worked in the main large. But I do wish to return in a small way to glass at some stage, and at the moment I am playing with adding prints of my paintings to small glass panels., I’m having great fun doing this.
I think I have always been involved with art, only difference was people ate it. I wanted to be an Architect or a Vet when I was a child, but I suspect I was never clever enough at school for the exams and the training required but cooking and artwork came easily and I work better when I enjoy what I do. I grew up in a Delicatessen, which were uncommon outside of London at the time. Unusual foods were an everyday thing and it seemed natural for me to follow this route. Now it feels like I have returned to those dreams as a child in a small way, with the draftsmanship of the sketches and the painting of animals.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I've brought a few people to tears, men and woman. In a good way, you understand. When asked to produce a painting for a commission then this can sometimes happen. They are so close to the subject and I always ask for lots of images of the animal, especially the eyes. Then I can produce a painting that is their pet not just anyone’s pet, or a painting of their photo not just any photo. That's when I know I got it right. Is it bad to say I like to see that intense reaction, I hope not, I suspect it makes me try even harder to get it right.
What inspires you?
My boys. I love what I do, but I do it so I can be with them daily, the school run, the school activities, sharing a meal, making cakes. Whatever I can to be a mother. My career was always important to me, but my new job as a mother is more important. Being an artist allows me to be both. I'm incredibly lucky and proud of my sons.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Sometimes, but I've always worked alone and I'm a self sufficient person. So I turn up the music, sing to my parrots and work until the school run then we wait for my husband’s home time to come round. Then make the most of it.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Art speak, and pretentious meanings. Can a piece of art not just be beautiful and enjoyed . Does it have to say something, does it have to have hidden depths and meanings. To me no. I enjoy beauty. Sometimes over intellectualising a piece spoils it for me.
What do you like about your work?
showing, I like to meet people. I spend enough time by myself so this part when I meet the public is a real treat.
What research to you do?
Lots, we have a large garden, my camera and notebook are never far away. We visit zoos, wildlife reserves, Chatsworth, all over the place really. Then I just look. Lots. Bark. Leaves. Branches. I even feed the birds every day and have pheasants that come when I whistle for them. It’s a great way to get close to the wildlife, they become used to me. Then I see lots of things really close. Hedgehogs, wrens, nuthatches, tree creepers, woodpeckers, foxes and even the occasional hare and partridge. I’m so lucky.
I also have some bird samples that I keep int the freezer. If you meet me you should ask. It always raises a few eyebrows.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Try your best, and find a job you enjoy. My mother told me this and I shall tell my children the same.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To be the best I can, I'm stubborn, if I want to do it I will. Somehow.