In the Picture


Hazel Soan


In this issue we step into the studio of artist Hazel Soan as she talks about her artistic journey

As children, my sisters and I played drawing and painting games, designing clothes, cartoons, just about anything, and marking each other out of ten. At the age of 12 we moved to a bigger house where I had a room of my own and, encouraged by my grandfather, I started experimenting with oil paints. I remember the first time I used Prussian Blue, squeezing out too much; it went everywhere, was impossible to clean up and made me wary of the colour for years. Now it is one of my favourites!

Hazel in her studio gallery in London

The incident that sparked the desire to paint seriously came when my scary but wise Great Aunt Doris asked if she could show one of my charcoal portraits to a friend who worked in the House of Commons. To a 13 year old this was serious and you can imagine my delight when her friend responded by giving me two Chinese brushes from her travels in Hong Kong.

'Notting Hill'

Family will often support you but when an outsider praises your work it really boosts your confidence: from that day forward I knew I wanted to spend all my days with a brush in my hand. My first commission came from a sixth former at the boys’ school. It was the swinging Sixties and I was painting psychedelic paintings in watercolour: he commissioned two posters entitled ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ and I charged him five shillings!

'Downpour in Venice'

Art College was both enthralling and harrowing, and I gained a profound education and graduated with a BA Hons in Fine Art and the Holbrook Trust Prize from Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery. I sold some paintings at my degree show but did not have a clue how to start making a living as a painter.

Hazel demonstrating on Crescent Island in Kenya

One of my college professors had given me some advice: “Always have an exhibition on the horizon, keep a studio of your own and travel to avoid getting into a rut.” I used these words as my guide. Taking a job as a barmaid in a country pub, I found a cheap room to rent as a studio and painted all morning and afternoon between shifts.

It was ideal, I met lots of people, gained commissions and one of the customers even introduced me to a gallery in London. Within a year of graduation I was earning a living from my paintings and had my first one-man show.

Other exhibitions followed and soon I was publishing my work through an art agent: it was great seeing hotels and offices with Soan pictures on every floor! I began travelling and organising exhibitions as far afield as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

'Doc Holliday and the Brothers Earp, Tombstone'

This propelled me into the public eye and later brought me the role as an Art Expert on Channel 4’s popular ‘Watercolour Challenge’. I was soon in demand for lectures, workshops, painting holidays and demonstrations, taking me from the QE2 to the Kalahari Desert, and found great enjoyment helping others to paint.

'Revealed in the Clearing'

A proportion of my work is still by commission: for the last decade I have had the privilege of painting the Ritz Club Calendar for the Ritz Hotel in London, and I am proud of the two huge murals that grace the atrium of the Durban Hilton in South Africa and the Black Christ that hangs in Cape Town’s Nazareth House. I am also delighted to have an ink drawing of Bill Brandt at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Since the mid Nineties I have had my own studio and gallery space in London, which has enabled me to plan shows at short notice, a great luxury for an artist. Not having to wrap up paintings or load up a car has been a godsend. I so love painting I do not want to stop - organisation, accounts, paperwork are all anathema to me because they interrupt the bliss of painting!

'Each to their own Trajectory'

I have continued the themes that absorbed me at Art College: I love direct sunlight, the way it spills onto and over objects; I am fascinated by the shapes of shade, the strong and subtle changes of tone; my eyes are constantly entertained by the patterns people make and even more by the spaces between them.

Hazel painting on the Florida Keys

I love defining moments in time. Watercolour has stolen my heart; I still enjoy painting in oils and acrylics but it is the fine sable brushes, radiant pigments and delicious cotton papers that charm me most. I never tire of mixing colours in the palette or of watching paint dry!

Hazel runs a couple of workshops a year from her studio, for information please send your email address to hsoan@iafrica.com She is also planning painting holidays to Sri Lanka in March, and Lake Garda and Verona in September.

For details email info@spencerscott.co.uk Her new DVD to accompany her book ’10 Minute Watercolours’ will be available in January 2013


In the Picture


Hazel Soan


In this issue we step into the studio of artist Hazel Soan as she talks about her artistic journey

As children, my sisters and I played drawing and painting games, designing clothes, cartoons, just about anything, and marking each other out of ten. At the age of 12 we moved to a bigger house where I had a room of my own and, encouraged by my grandfather, I started experimenting with oil paints. I remember the first time I used Prussian Blue, squeezing out too much; it went everywhere, was impossible to clean up and made me wary of the colour for years. Now it is one of my favourites!

Hazel in her studio gallery in London

The incident that sparked the desire to paint seriously came when my scary but wise Great Aunt Doris asked if she could show one of my charcoal portraits to a friend who worked in the House of Commons. To a 13 year old this was serious and you can imagine my delight when her friend responded by giving me two Chinese brushes from her travels in Hong Kong.

'Notting Hill'

Family will often support you but when an outsider praises your work it really boosts your confidence: from that day forward I knew I wanted to spend all my days with a brush in my hand. My first commission came from a sixth former at the boys’ school.

It was the swinging Sixties and I was painting psychedelic paintings in watercolour: he commissioned two posters entitled ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ and I charged him five shillings!

'Downpour in Venice'

Art College was both enthralling and harrowing, and I gained a profound education and graduated with a BA Hons in Fine Art and the Holbrook Trust Prize from Nottingham Museum and Art Gallery. I sold some paintings at my degree show but did not have a clue how to start making a living as a painter.

Hazel demonstrating on Crescent Island in Kenya

One of my college professors had given me some advice: “Always have an exhibition on the horizon, keep a studio of your own and travel to avoid getting into a rut.” I used these words as my guide. Taking a job as a barmaid in a country pub, I found a cheap room to rent as a studio and painted all morning and afternoon between shifts.

[accordions title="" active=3 event="click" collapsible=true disabled=false autoheight=false]
[accordion title="Read the rest of this article"]

Already a member?

Members Click here to log in and access the full article.


Not yet a member of the SAA?

Access to the full article is reserved for SAA members only.  If you are not a member of the SAA, then find out more about joining here.

As well as access to this article and more, just some of benefits SAA membership

provides are:

  • The inspirational PAINT magazine delivered for FREE six times a year
  • Interact with like-minded artists and find your place in the UK’s largest art community
  • Full access to the PAINT article reference library
  • FREE welcome pack including practical help, advice and gifts
  • Exclusive discounts, member-only offers and FREE P&P on thousands of brand name art supplies

Join the worlds biggest and friendliest art society

Whether you're just starting out or you've been painting for years, being a member of the SAA can help to encourage and inspire you for years to come.

Join today from as little as £27.50 a year.

A recent review from a member

”I heard about the SAA through my Art Group and a friend

let me have some old copies of PAINT magazine to look at. I was immediately impressed with the articles and the help inside and wrote away for the free sample of the magazine. Well that clinched it! I joined up

the next day and using the easy website began buying artists materials on their Home Shop. They were much cheaper than other suppliers.

They send a welcome pack with a hard copy of the catalogue, which

is glossy and a good flick through for selection of materials and DVDs etc. PAINT magazine is full of helpful and inspiring articles, and I keep my copies close to hand in my studio for reference.”

Vanessa Bavington

[/accordion]

[/accordions]