Jenny Wheatley joined Bridgeman Studio in May 2014. Having already established a successful fine art practice both in the UK and internationally, Jenny joined Bridgeman Studio with the specific goal of having her images seen in new contexts and building on her previous experiences in licensing.
Jenny trained at the West Surrey College of Art & Design where she received a BA Fine Art & Printmaking. Jenny currently shows with the Russell Gallery and Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, and runs art courses in both the UK and Greece. She is renowned for her exciting, colourful and highly original watercolours and mixed-media paintings, covering a variety of subjects including buildings, still life and landscapes.
|House on the Moor (oil on canvas)||The Visitor (oil on canvas)|
The working life of Jenny Wheatley
What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?
Gosh! I was brought up around paintings and imagery of all sorts, with my family in the fine arts, creative arts, film and theatre world. I really know no different. One of my earliest enjoyments on an art front was re-organising my folding box of 72 Derwent coloured pencils (a present from my Mum and Dad) in different ways to create different swathes of colours and harmonies. After that I was hooked!
What is your favourite time of day to be in your studio?
My studio is in the house and so I can pop in at any time of day or night. Mornings are really best for me, but I sometimes stroll in later in the evening for a glance at something and then get involved.
Talk us through a day in the life of Jenny Wheatley. What's your routine?
It really is all-absorbing for me. I don't work to the clock but tend to pop into the studio and then start fiddling about. The radio goes on and I work my way through all the plays and serials on Plus4 or Radio4 while I am working. The computer is also in there so I can deal with emails and cataloguing work at the same time.
There is also a 'work' phone so I can look at a painting while I am chatting. I can work with the outside door shut if I want to be left alone, or with it open if I want to chat to people passing or to listen to the banana palms rustling outside the door.
If I have a deadline coming up I will work until I finish. If not, then I will prime canvases, organise stock, sift through sketchbooks and contemplate my next move.
How would you sum up your practice in five words?
High colour, close-tone decorative painting.
|Hastings in the sun (oil on canvas)||Shopping in the Rain (detail) (oil on canvas)||Seaside Terrace (acrylic on canvas)|
Courses and Commissions
You spend your time leading watercolour painting courses in Greece, Cornwall and France. Do you find you draw inspiration from your students as you instruct them?
I don't actually run that many courses. I run two five-day courses in Cumbria and one five day course in Cornwall each year, and a couple of weeks abroad. I learn a huge amount from those who join me, as I hope they do from me. It is excellent practice to put into words the things that rattle around one's mind in the majority of months when one works alone. It is also essential, I think, to return to basics on a regular basis. All education must be a two-way experience and one by which we should all be enriched.
Tell us about your most exciting commission to date?
Years ago I was asked by the joint British/Indian army to join them as a painter/recorder to Ladakh, passing through the Golden Triangle and Kashmir en route. That was wonderful. After that I was commissioned by CCA to travel through Polynesia painting the changes as it turned into Melanesia. That has constantly stayed with me both in painting and life-terms. I think I'm ready for another exciting challenge now if anyone wants to make me an offer!
Working indoors or outdoors?
Both. I carry a small notebook everywhere and draw and write observations and ideas down. I paint outside in oils and watercolours to work the subject out, and to get that initial and immediate dialogue with the subject. I work in the studio on "process paintings" that require more time and layering on a large scale, in watercolour, oil or acrylic. These tend to be assemblages of the subject as I wishe it might have been or a combination of elements. The studio pieces could not exist if I did not do the works in situ and visa versa.
Drawing or painting?
Both. I draw a lot and paint a lot. To me both activities are a state of mind. You can draw with a brush or paint with a pencil. It depends how you approach it and what you are trying to say.
Which other artists, dead or alive, would you choose to have dinner with?
Another huge question. My interest in art is very eclectic from pre-renaissance to contemporary. If I were to be pinned down I would like to sit around a table with a mixed group of painters, largely between 1920 and 1970. How about Picasso, Matisse, Derain, Ivon Hitchens, Rothko, Patrick Heron, Winifred Nicholson, Matthew Smith, Victor Passmore and Braque?
|Illumination (oil on canvas)||In the heat of the Midday sun (watercolour)||Window Seat (oil on canvas)|
Licensing with Bridgeman
What are your hopes for Bridgeman Studio and where would you most like to see your work licensed?
As I don't paint to commission I have an entirely open mind and am intrigued to see what comes up. I paint what I want to paint and am lucky enough that it seems to be sufficiently commercial to be able to survive. I would do it anyway. I have had paintings used as book-jackets and for calendars and cards before but hope that the clients for Bridgeman will open new doors.
View all Jenny Wheatley's images available for image licensing here
View previous Artist of the Month articles here