Interview with Dorothy Berry-Lound – ShannathShima

When did you first become interested in art?

I was very shy as a child but I loved art class at school. I had the most wonderful art teacher called Mrs Ward. She had coloured hair, big tinted glasses, flowing clothes and she made a huge impression on me. She was so confident and I hoped some of it would rub off! She got me to realise that I could draw and paint and she instilled in me a huge interest in the history of art. I have a whole library of art related books that I blame on her! She kindled a lifelong interest in the arts.

What style of art do you use most?

I love photopainting, taking my own photographs and using digital painting techniques to develop them further. I also specialise in colour harmony and healing art – producing images that enhance the mood of the space in which they are hung. Some of these are produced digitally.

Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?

For years I painted with acrylics and also painted on glass. I was also interested in photography and gradually developed my photographic skills. I then discovered the art of photopainting. I spent hours studying and learning how to use different programmes and what worked and what didn’t (which never stops by the way, there is always something new to learn). I call it playing! Although I still produce acrylic paintings, photopainting is now my passion! So much so that I was awarded Best Photopainter 2015 by CQ Magazine.

What medium do you use?

I work a lot on the computer in my job as a consultant but had never used any art-related software. With my photography I had a good grasp of composition etc but felt I wanted to do more with it. I saw reference in an art forum discussion to a programme that could turn your photographs into ‘paintings’. I thought I would have a play and see how they turned out and used the trial version of the software. I learnt two things from that trial: that the photographs have to be good to start with to get a good outcome and that using the automated programme was just the tip of the iceberg! The programme could be played around with and adjusted to produce different effects and suddenly I was hooked. Now I have lots of different programmes and jump between them whilst I am working on my photopaintings.


Do your ideas come from life or imagination?

Both life and imagination play a part in my art. That’s funny really as most of my school reports said that I lacked imagination. 40 or more years later my husband was recently asked what it was like to live with someone who can look at a field of wild flowers and see fairies!

How do you choose your images and colours?

I have been working on images from local towns and villages where I live here in Italy. I confess I am not very good at the traditional tourist attraction images. I get side tracked by the way the light shines off a stone wall onto a terracotta step, or by the way shapes emerge from a scene. But when I work on these, I try to work with the colours of the land. For my wider work I like to let the pieces tell a story so I am looking for something that I can develop in some way to let the story out. In selecting the colours I work on art therapy principles with the use of colours. For example, a recent jazz and blues series of images were predominantly yellow which can suggest enthusiasm for life – with some funky textures the images are quite dynamic.


Do you work in a studio?

I had a studio built on my house so that I could have the space to play extremely loud music and dance whilst I painted – seriously! I spend less time in it these days as using the computer is more comfortable in my office. But it is full of canvases just waiting for me to get going.

Who is your favourite artist?

Without hesitation, Pieter Saenredam, a Dutch Baroque artist. The lines and use of shadow in his church interiors are just breath taking. I think my love of archways and quirky bits of architecture come down to my early fascination with his work.

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?


The temptation is to say that my favourite piece is the latest piece I produced. I do have a few favourites. One that gave me great satisfaction is called ‘June Rose’ which is my Mum’s name and I designed it specifically for her.

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

My acrylic paintings take two to four hours I suppose on average. I rarely go back to a piece once I have finished though I have been known to tinker. Sometimes I scan them in and then carry on working on them digitally.

The photopainting can be quite time consuming. One of my pictures of the old well in Paciano took three days of repeated visits to get the light just right for the picture I had in mind. Then time spent working on the photograph at home. I am not sure how you work that out! Actual time spent on the computer can vary from 20 minutes for something straightforward to working on something over several days to get it where I want it to be.

How well do you take criticism?

As always with criticism it depends on the motivation behind the criticism. Someone said to me that I had too much ‘space’ in a picture and when I looked at it again they were right and I changed it. Someone said they didn’t like my style, too much colour – that comes down to taste and some people like it some don’t. Art has to be what it says to the person who views it. If you get upset by criticism I am a firm believer you should look at why you are upset rather than blaming the person who gave the criticism. Sometimes they are right.


What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

I don’t think I have ever had a ‘block’ as such. If I have to think about what I am doing with something a bit of meditation or some loud music dancing with the animals usually does the trick.

I am a Buddhist and my life is quite quiet compared to many I think though I feel fulfilled and happy. I am a vegetarian and I don’t drink alcohol. We don’t have tv or radio at our house – you would be amazed how many hours there are in a day when you are not watching television programmes! I have two dogs, four inside cats and 12 outside cats (the outside cats being a little semi-feral group that we look after) and they provide a lot of inspiration for my art.

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

Sometimes as I take a photograph I have a clear idea in my head what I am going to do with the final picture. So, when the picture on my screen matches what is in my head it is done. Otherwise I keep working until I have no colours left in my head – I can’t quite describe what I mean by that but it works for me!

Have you had exhibits in galleries?

I have a current exhibition in my local town, Paciano in Umbria, Italy. The Vice Mayor asked me to select images that reflected the influences and inspirations I have as an artist from my life in this area. You can read details of the exhibition on my website and there is a YouTube video of the pieces included in the exhibit.

What are you currently working on?

I am continuing to develop images based on local towns and villages here in my part of Italy, focusing on those that are perhaps less well known. I am also working on my next ‘healing art’ image. Bizarrely I have the title for that so the image will follow the title for a change. I am also writing a book ‘I am Stevie Mouse’ illustrated with my images. It is the story of my rescue kitten and our life together.

What are your plans for the future?

Wake up each day with a smile, drink coffee, love my husband and my animals and just get on with it.


What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Would you hang it on your wall? Every piece I create I think, could I have that on my wall? If not, why not? If there isn’t a good reason it doesn’t get used. It is a good discipline to have.

What advice would you give new artists?

Not all the advice you read and are given is correct but take the chance to take it all in like a sponge and extract what works for you. Discernment is a good skill to develop.

Have you done any courses to help you?

Apart from school I have had very little training though I did go away for a weekend to a life drawing class – though I rarely have people in my images.


What do you do to market your work?

I realised early on that people aren’t suddenly going to land on my doorstep, I have to get them interested in me and my work. So I spend a lot of time each day marketing my work. I really enjoy blogging and have my own blog and a blog on Niume ( I also guest blog from time to time. I find that works the most effectively for me both in terms of sales and commissions. I am very active on Facebook and have a ‘Work in Progress’ project every Wednesday where I pick a photograph I am going to develop during the day and post the results at the end. It is a good discipline for me though sometimes I set myself a real challenge and find I am regretting it by lunchtime!

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

I am on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked-In and various other places!


Are you available for work (commissions)?

I do work on commissions; my most recent was working on a series of photographs to turn into ‘photopaintings’ for a website. I have designed greeting cards, most recently a wedding card and also undertaken healing art commissions. I also designed a set of runes for a rune reading website.

Have you got hobbies?

I am a Tai Chi instructor and also a Reiki Master.

Where are you based?

Paciano, Umbria, Italy (half way up a mountain).

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4 Thoughts to “Interview with Dorothy Berry-Lound – ShannathShima”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your interview, Dorothy.

  2. Delighted to get to know you much better, Dorothy. Especially seeing you at work in that neat photo. Photopainting has become my passion also, but your work stands as a tall taskmaster.

  3. Good interview, Dorothy. Fun to see your working procedures.

  4. Thanks for your wonderful comments, I really appreciate them.

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