Studio 61 Gallery is changing in the new year and our exhibitions will be all about fundraising!
So please read the final featured artist blog for a while with Francis Daunt of Garden Gallery.
I am Frances Daunt, married with four children, two dogs, five chickens and a guinea pig. I am an artist specialising in felted animal art – I am a member of The association of Animal Artists (see http://associationanimalartists.co.uk/artists-biographies/frances-daunt/ ). I get a lot of the inspiration for my work from my frequent walks in the Derbyshire countryside.
I have always been creative and enjoyed drawing and painting, but as I home educated my four children I had very little time to pursue my interests. However, as they grew up my free time increased – I knew that I wanted to do something creative, but was unsure what route to take. I experimented with photography and sculpture before finally settling on felting. The past two years have seen my felted pictures develop into the work I produce today, and have also seen me return to painting.
My medium of choice is wool. I use merino tops to create my felted pictures, using the process of wet felting and adding the final details by needle felting. I love working with wool as I start off with a pile of wools of different colours and end up with a picture.
I always enjoyed felting as a process, but had never really made pictures with wool. The way I work is just the way that has developed over time. Before creating felted pictures I experimented with many different media.
I like things that are different and unique – there aren’t many people creating felted animal artwork, so I feel that I am offering something different as well as something I love doing.
I am inspired by every artist I see. There is something for me to learn from every single piece of artwork I see.
I went to the Art Materials Live show at NEC Birmingham – it was huge and I hadn’t realised that there were so many different art materials available! Felting was completely under-represented.
I’ve never really tried collaboration work.... I tend to work in my own messy way and am not very good at taking direction, so I probably would not collaborate unless I was given a lot of space!
A lot of my custom comes from USA and I now have a lot of contacts there.
I would like to be living in a cottage by the sea in Northumberland with my family (and other animals) still doing pretty much what I do now. But, things progress – I am learning new things all the time, so actually to be doing what I do now suggests lack of progression! But certainly still doing something creative. I hope to continue to improve my painting skills over the next 5-10 years too.
If you won a £1500? I would love to have £1500 to spend on art materials so that I could experiment more, but basically for felting I don’t need much more than I have. Once I had spent some on new wool I’m not really sure.....
For each piece that I start I have a very clear vision of where I am going with it – each piece is always destined to be my best piece yet. Sometimes, my work has a different idea and as it progresses it takes me in an unexpected direction, which can produce something quite different. A good example is a recent lion picture. My vision was for a very majestic, realistic lion, but as I started felting I realised that it didn’t want to turn out like that. I ended up with a very stylised piece which I added sequins to – completely different to my normal work, but just as valid.
The art world can be rather snobby and some look down on art that has any craft element – I would like my felted work to be recognised as art. It is after all painting – just with wool rather than paint!
I invest a lot of myself in each piece of art I do, and always feel sad when pieces are sold (especially when commissioned pet portraits are sent off). So yes my work does contain a lot of me.
What do you love? My love for animals and what I do, other people’s love for their pets.
I usually let my ideas whirl around my head for at least a few days, sometimes many months, before starting a project.
When I’m wet felting I have loud music on – Arctic Monkeys, Green Day or similar – as it’s hard physical work but with the music it feels more like a dance! The rest of the time, well, I work in a mess! I am completely focused on what I’m doing, so even if I have a conversation with somebody I have no idea what was said.
My greatest weakness is that I am impatient. I expect that I have developed lots of new techniques in both felting and painting by refusing to wait for anything to dry. And I don’t care for rules – sometimes a strength, sometimes a weakness!
I had two submissions accepted for the Derbyshire Open Arts on my first ever try (2014). This year I had one accepted that received a commendation. I have expanded my Facebook base to over 5,000 people, many of whom buy from me. I have become a member of the Association of Animal Artists.
My short range goal is to continue to build up my on-line presence which I do by networking. My long term goal is to develop my local customer base as most of my work is presently sent overseas. I intend to do this by increasing my local networking, attending events and marketing Garden Gallery a bit more.
Strengths? That’s hard. From my Facebook feedback I would say hard-working (I post a new piece of work most days) and generous (I do donate a lot to charities).
I am very haphazard. Quite often I will be in the middle of lunch and decide to paint something and start straight away. I do get up at 6am each morning and do an hour’s exercise before starting my day – that energises me for the day and is about as organised as I get!
I am a pretty laid back person in general and don’t tend to feel pulled in all directions. If I did I would just get up earlier or go to bed later!
I get a lot of my inspiration from the surrounding countryside and its wildlife. I am also inspired by the obvious love that my clients have for their pets past and present, and their gratitude when I present them with their completed pet portrait.
If I can continue to do what I love doing then I consider that a success. I need to sell to make enough money to live, but I felt and paint because I love doing it – I don’t need any external measurements of success.