How It All Started

Queensferry Sunset closeup The picture is of the Forth Railway bridge with a sunset in the background and rocks in the foreground as it's from the South Queensferry side looking over to Fife. A flock of seagulls are flying over the bridge
Queensferry Sunset art print

My Design Life

Or perhaps I should title this “My Life Story” as it’s taken a while to get here.

Where to begin? So first, a little bit about my background and what my ‘proper job’ was before I became an artist. For many years I was a fashion designer which lead me to travel to some pretty amazing places all around the world. This involved shopping trips in New York, fabric buying visits to Seoul (Korea) and Taipei (Taiwan) and sample trips to China and Indonesia.

I was living in Yorkshire, England for a big part of this, in fact I’d left Dundee at the age of 17 to go to art college in Newcastle to study fashion and then on to a degree in Nottingham. As much as I loved living ”down south’ and travelling the world, I was always more than happy to come home. It also gave me a deeper appreciation of the natural beauty of Scotland when I did.

And the closer I got to Dundee, the more relaxed and happy I would become. And let me tell you, when the train went over the Forth railway bridge into Fife, I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion. Maybe sometimes you have to leave home to appreciate it?

Broughty Ferry Trip that sparked an idea

On a trip home, I remember one of my most favourite days was spent with my Mum, going for a wander round Broughty Ferry. It’s a lovely part of Dundee with a myriad of independent shops and cafes – well worth a visit. Since it was a sunny day, we also decided to take a stroll on the beach which is closeby and I took lots of photos that day as a wee reminder of home.

Fast forward 21 years later and I moved back ‘home’ with a Scottish husband and 2 cats in tow as I managed to secure a job in Glasgow. After being inspired by all the DIY / renovation shows on TV, we decided to buy a wreck of a house to do up and have a go ourselves. With my design knowledge and my hubby’s practical skills, we set about transforming a 100yr old property into a gorgeous home.

When it came to the interior design and living room decor, I was looking for 3 large pictures to put on my walls. The ceilings were tall and I was struggling to find anything I liked which was the right size. I knew I wanted some Scottish landscape prints and I ended up looking through hundreds of my photos which I’d taken over the years. There’s hardly any areas of Scotland I’ve not been to!

I decided on 3 of my favourite places – Broughty Ferry Beach, Loch Earn (where my husband had proposed) and Kinshaldy Beach in Fife which is a childhood favourite, where we would have family picnics. Kinshaldy Beach is part of the Tenstmuir Forest Nature Reserve and is a very special place with miles and miles of lovely, golden sand.

I knew that I didn’t just want my (not so professional) photos in the frames and I was a dab hand at Photoshop as that was part of my day job. So I combined the two and digitally manipulated my photos to add textures, colours and text so that the end result looked more arty, like a painting. You can see above, the 3 large prints made quite an impact on my walls.

After sharing the photo to Facebook I had a lot of positive comments and decided I’d try selling them on Etsy. I’d already been dabbling with clipart design on there.

I made sure I only used mounts which were acid-free and by a company which were ArtSure registered.

Numerous textured layers (such as watercolour brush strokes, fabric textures and typography) are added to the original image in Photoshop and it takes many hours to achieve just the right combination of depth, colour and texture. These textures add a new dimension to the image, bringing it more alive but also making it more abstract at the same time and the final result is a more subtle, painterly, sometimes ethereal appearance. This helps to evoke and capture the mood of a place rather than just show a direct, visual representation as in standard photography.

Fine Art Quality

Quality was important to me so I did HOURS of research to find suppliers who could professionally print my artwork onto fine art papers using a process which would ensure my prints were museum quality, to last many years.

hills of tweed canvas print with no text. The print is an abstract picture of a Scottish hillside with a bird flying above in the distance. There is a tweed texture in the foreground.
Hills of Tweed Canvas Print

Inspiration for the textures can come from a variety of sources – a purchase of Glenlyon tweed in Aberfeldy was added to the ‘Hills of Tweed’ print for example. The original photo was taken just a few miles away on the same day.

Closeup photos of glittering sand are often added to beach prints and a photo of a freshly plastered wall might appear as a layer to add a subtle wash of colour to a print.

It’s fun experimenting and I now see textures in everything, wherever I go!

My prints were popular on Etsy and then I decided to create my own website which has been fun to design. Not long after, I answered a call out on Instagram for local artist and makers in Glasgow to be stocked at Downstair Design Co which I’m happy to say is one of my first retailers and it’s slowly grown from that. You can see my current list of stockists here. I’ve been slowly growing my customer base and my aim this year is to try my hand at makers markets whilst also growing my retailer list too. Faire has helped me do this and you can find out more about my trade business here.

It is an absolute joy sharing my favourite places with people who also have a special place in their heart for some of my favourite places around Scotland. The Broughty Ferry Beach print is still one of my best sellers, closely followed by some of the Highland prints I do, including tweed textured hills and misty lochs. I’m adding to my collection all the time, in fact there’s never enough hours in the day to add all my ideas!

Ask Me Anything

Thank you if you managed to read this far! If there’s anything else you’d like to know about my journey to being an artist, please just comment below or get in touch.

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