This week we had the pleasure of meeting local artist and jeweller Kerry Vaughan to find out how she became an artist and where she finds her inspiration.
Who are you?
Tell us about your background
I am a wildlife and pet portrait artist working primarily in pastel but I also make silver jewellery and produce drypoint prints.
Whilst I have always drawn and been creative, a dramatic change in my circumstances forced me to re-assess my life and resulted in my going back to college as a full time art student when I was about 28.
I finally emerged with a degree and became a freelance Illustrator whilst selling my limited edition etchings (a skill I specialised in at University) through various galleries at home and abroad.
During this period I went on my first safari to Kenya. It was a pivotal moment as it confirmed my love of wildlife and from then on, all my images were about animals. I even did my dissertation on the elephants in Kenya illustrated by my prints.
So here I am, quite a lot of years later, living in West Sussex and (almost) back to my roots, as I was born in Emsworth. I gave up on Illustrating and now deal with commissions for clients on a one to one basis, which is much better. I also exhibit my wildlife pastels with several local art groups.
I don’t have the facilities to keep the acid required for etching anymore so I use plastic plates now with a drypoint engraving technique.
I’ve also been making silver jewellery in recent years. These pieces are inspired by the natural world and are a great way to be creative in a different way to my drawing but I hope they compliment my artwork in shared themes.
What inspires you?
I am always thinking of images and ideas. Having been on several safaris and been inspired by the amazing wildlife there, I am now equally interested in wildlife closer to home. I am passionate about our local area. I love the south downs rolling landscape and being near the sea. It’s such a privilege to be able to live here surrounded by the countryside with the regular wildlife that visits our garden.
In the last year or so I have tried to produce pastel paintings that aren’t so intent on being accurate but are more about my response to an animal, bird or a key landmark and it’s surroundings with imagined interaction with wildlife. So, for example, I have painted Racton monument and Halnaker windmill with hares in the foreground. These buildings are both examples of the iconic imagery of my childhood growing up locally. Hares symbolise the fragile countryside, the power of the moon and the rebirth of the earth at springtime. Barn owls, foxes and many garden birds also feature in my work, often after seeing them in the garden.
This year my jewellery features the triskele hares. This is an ancient symbol seen in many cultures and depicts three hares chasing each other in a circle, joined by their ears, which form a triangle in the centre. Each hare appears to have two ears, as you would expect, when in fact there are only 3 ears in the middle.
Tell us about your creative process
I usually use my own or my partner’s reference photos. I will make a sketch to plan out the composition and sometimes do a colour sketch before starting on the main painting or print. It may well change in the process of completing the final study and I am trying to be more adventurous with colour.
I draw/paint in part of the lounge with the telly or radio on for company, as that room has the best light. I tend to work from about 2pm to midnight (with breaks) because I use the morning for admin or anything else that needs doing.
If I am making jewellery I usually set aside 2 or 3 days as I need to take over the kitchen with tools and my blow torch! It also requires special attention particularly when soldering!
Printmaking takes place upstairs as that is where my press is – a converted mangle with steel rollers.
Having been born in Emsworth, I am loving being part of the Emsworth Art Trail for a fourth year. My family live near by so we still have a great connection to the town. I am exhibiting at the Community Centre behind the fire station again with several other individual artists and art groups. It’s a great atmosphere there, organized brilliantly by Karen, who runs the centre and keeps us all happy. We have a fantastic mix of different art, crafts and mediums so we enjoy being together and exchanging creative ideas in between meeting the public.
There is parking and disabled access. Hot drinks and cakes are available to purchase.
I will be selling my original wildlife paintings, prints, silver jewellery, cards and gifts featuring my work. I am also happy to talk techniques and ideas or discuss commissions for any of the work on show including pet portraits.
I hope that the people who know my work will come back to visit my stand and those that don’t will come to see what it’s about. I always have something new each year and I feel that now, more than ever, I am evolving as an artist and trying to move forward in my artistic response to our wonderful surroundings.