FRONT COVER ARTIST

CREATING
a Beautiful Image

Name: Fran McGarry
Age: 53
Lives: Bristol
Medium: Watercolour
Cover Picture: Golden Sun

When did you start to paint?
Nine years ago, after visiting my Aunt Pat who is a watercolour artist. I loved her work and sketches and decided that when I got back home I would join a local watercolour class, which I did and became hooked. I started to paint every day and after just five weeks I entered some work into a local art exhibition.

To my surprise I sold three paintings! It felt great that someone else appreciated my work, so I painted more and more. The following year I joined the SAA to get inspiration and encouragement. I entered a painting into Artist of the Year and was a finalist with my painting ‘Cherry Art’. Then in 2009 I was thrilled to win Amateur Artist of The Year with ‘Garlic’.

What inspires you to paint?
Sometimes it’s the smallest of things that I see. But I love to paint portraits, usually of women, and I'm a big fan of artists such as John Waterhouse, Andrew Wyeth, Gustav Klimt and John Singer Sargent. Although I’ve tried both watercolour and acrylic, the former is my preferred medium. I like the way the colours mix on the paper, the translucency and the unpredictability of it.

How do you prefer to work?
Most of my work is done from reference photographs, but occasionally I have painted from life. I work at my best when I'm at home on my own, sat in my conservatory listening to music, I get completely lost in what I'm doing, forget all my troubles and lose track of time. When I’m that engrossed I sometimes paint for 14 hours or more at a time.

Tell us about Golden Sun?
I have always liked Oriental art and culture and wanted to create a beautiful painting incorporating gold leaf. The subject was influenced by watching the film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, and the sun came from a photograph I took from my bedroom window, which was actually of the moon with a willow tree in silhouette in front of it.

I made up the kimono after looking at reference pictures on the Internet. I wanted to make the fabric look silky so I used turquoise paint and when it was almost dry I dropped tiny amounts of water into it to create the marks.

Your portraits are beautiful. Is this your favourite subject?
Yes I love doing portraits and figures, although I do like still life too. I am very influenced by Pre-Raphaelites and love paintings of women with flaming red hair.
I paint my gorgeous daughter Emma, because she too has long flaming red hair and is a joy to paint.

Gold leaf features heavily in your work, what do you like about it?
It stems from my love of Gustav Klimt. I think his work is so inspiring and would really like to create something equally as beautiful. Gold leaf is hard to work with as it tears very easily and it’s quite fiddly and messy, but I really like the finished effect and the way it reflects the light.

What does the future hold for you?
I consider myself an amateur artist because, although I run watercolour classes at my local community centre in Longwell Green, Bristol, I don’t make a living from selling my work. I paint mostly for myself for pleasure and to create a beautiful image, and if other people like my work it’s a bonus and makes it even more worthwhile. Like all artists I have self doubt at times though, so winning the overall Artist of the Year title some day would be a huge boost for my confidence.


FRONT COVER ARTIST

CREATING
a Beautiful Image

Name: Fran McGarry
Age: 53
Lives: Bristol
Medium: Watercolour
Cover Picture: Golden Sun

When did you start to paint?
Nine years ago, after visiting my Aunt Pat who is a watercolour artist. I loved her work and sketches and decided that when I got back home I would join a local watercolour class, which I did and became hooked. I started to paint every day and after just five weeks I entered some work into a local art exhibition.

To my surprise I sold three paintings! It felt great that someone else appreciated my work, so I painted more and more. The following year I joined the SAA to get inspiration and encouragement. I entered a painting into Artist of the Year and was a finalist with my painting ‘Cherry Art’. Then in 2009 I was thrilled to win Amateur Artist of The Year with ‘Garlic’.

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