When did you first become interested in art?
I have always been interested in art and aspects of creativity. I used to watch Frank Clarke and his series ‘Have Some More Fun’ and another television programme Watercolour Challenge. This started me collecting different paints and watercolours and brushes. My daughter went to study Fine Art in London and gave me her job as a technician at our local school in the art department. This opened many doors and helped my career in becoming an artist.
What style of art do you use most?
Within my work I am encouraging realism. I appreciate the skills within a painting and being able to recognise certain animals or people, or the way brushstrokes create a face. To be able to get a character of a cat or a dog or any animal of the matter is really important to me. I enjoy the layers of colours to create the fur.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
Yes, dramatically. Before I would use watercolour paints to create landscapes but perhaps it was much more of a hobby then. I only feel that I really have been an artist in the last three years when completing my A Level in art and design. After getting the job as an art technician, the school offered me to do an A-Level. Being surrounded by fantastic talents of creativity at the school, it helped me push my self. I learned so many new skills such as printmaking, screen printing, photography, Photoshop, acrylics etc. This developed my skills and style heavily.
What medium do you use?
I mainly use pastel on velour paper. I discovered this during my A-level and love the versatility of the medium. I do a ground colour and then layer the image of more colour, highlights, shadows and mid-tones to create the depth within the fur; similar to oil paintings that use the glaze technique in a way, but with stronger colours. Some paintings can have between four to 15 layers. I also enjoy working in textiles and clay.
What made you choose that medium?
They say that making mistakes is a good thing for art and I have to agree. I went to buy normal colouring pencils but ended up buying pastel pencils. I thought, since I had them, I would give them a go and started exploring the material. Since then I have been hooked.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
My ideas come from life. At my home, I am surrounded by animals. I have two dogs, a bird, a tortoise and three guinea pigs. My husband’s passion and creativity is his garden. He plants it so beautifully and it brings so many beautiful birds into the garden. The animals, flowers and plants around me inspire me so greatly.
How do you choose your images and colours?
All of my images are of photographs I have taken or a client’s photograph of their animal for a commission. I enjoy going to do research and looking at animals in preserves and zoos. I always take my camera with me where ever I go, just in case I see a beautiful bird, animal or flower. I get so inspired by the characters of the animals. You can see in my paintings, it is a stubborn cat, a playful dog or a proud wolf. I am a huge animal lover and I do want to just paint them all!
Do you work in a studio?
I have a studio in my home. It is wonderful. I often sketch outside, but take a number of photographs to able me to get the correct colours.
Who is your favourite artist?
I am very inspired by the energy and beautiful work of Maggie Hamblin. I saw one of her painting in an exhibition and was amazed at the passion and energy that had gone into her work. The colours are so beautiful and the brushstrokes are lively. Her work is very different from mine, but I appreciate the style and her passion.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
I love the painting of the wolf, I went to a wolf open day and think that they are amazing animals, I was so inspired that as soon as I got home my pastels came out, this painting took me over 40 hours but I personally think it’s the best so far.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
A piece of work, depending on its size would to between 40 to 50 hours. I could sometimes spend around 10 to 15 hours just on the eyes as I think they build the character. They show the soul of the animal. The eyes are my favourite part of the animal to do. I am not sure why this is, but I think that the eyes set off a piece of work. This is where we connect as humans to the animals, and the first point of contact and looking are the eyes.
How well do you take criticism?
I do the best I can, but when you are completing a painting of someone’s pet they know best, often I have to work from poor images as their pets have passed away, so I always like to find out a little about the character first, I listen to the client and make changes if needed. I don’t mind criticism as I think it helps improve my painting, also after working on a piece for a number of weeks sometimes you don’t always see where you need to change things.
What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?
I don’t often get artist block as I have a full time job and am so very eager to get painting as much as I can. If I do though, however, I go for a walk with my dogs, and take my camera, just in case I see some wonderful images I want to paint.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away
I often leave my work somewhere where I can keep looking at it, over a number of days. Often I can then see the changes that need doing. I do try to finish a project before I start something new, this helps me to concentrate and move forward.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
Yes I have. I have been involved in several in my local town in the Saturday Gallery. I have also been in many art fairs and group exhibitions. I have only been doing my animal portraits for the last three years, and so am slowly gaining more confidence to show my work. You can see more at my website, www.tanyapatey.co.uk.
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?
I am showing again at a few local galleries but nothing majorly big planned yet. This year, in the summer, I will begin to write to galleries about my work as I feel more confident with it. I am currently working on a few commissions, but have a number of paintings to do for a solo exhibition in August. I will also be exhibiting and demonstrating at the Royal Berkshire Fair this May.
What are you currently working on?
I have decided that I will start doing more wild animals, not just domestic pets. I think that rather than just taking commissions, I need to aim at selling work at my exhibitions. Now the weather is warmer, I am doing more visits to see animals like I did with the Wold conservation Trust. I will be visiting falconry in spring. I really want to paint a tiger or a leopard. It will bring new challenges to my work.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Your dreams can come true. Things are difficult to get anywhere in life and it is easy to give up. You need to keep doing the things you love but you have to believe in yourself. Get your work seen by as many people as possible.
What advice would you give new artists?
You can make it as an artist as any time in your life. You don’t have to be young and go through university to become an artist. Likewise you don’t have to be old and wise to become an artist. If your heart is so strong, you will make it.
Have you done any courses to help you?
The only course I have done is my A-Level. But my daughter went to university and studied Fine Art. She encourages me and helps me to push myself and supports me. We talk about art al the time and go to galleries together.
What do you do to market your work?
My daughter surprised me one day by getting me my own website. She uploads my images onto there to help promote my work. I also try to use social media, but this is still a learning process. I also try to do exhibitions and show at art and craft stalls throughout the summer. I also use social network facebook, fine art America, SAA artist, and Artist & Illustrator to advertise my art.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I am currently setting up my Facebook which is http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Tanya-Patey/146150872220776.
Are you available for work (commissions)?
Have you got hobbies?
Yes too many, I love reading and going to galleries. I also do lots of craft with my Daughter louise. We started ‘Loubeelou’s Crafts’, where we meet twice a week and make and create over a cup of tea. Often I use the sewing machine to create pictures. This work of art is one example of this; I have used knitting, printing, collage, embellishing, weaving, painting, drawing and hand stitching.
Where are you based?
I am based in Berkshire, England.
© 2013, Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores. All rights reserved.