How I Look to British Artists For Inspiration in My Work.

How I Look to British Artists For Inspiration in My Work.

This weekend will see the coronation of King Charles III. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some, but definitely something to remember by most. The one thing the English are good at is ‘pomp and circumstance’ – plus, we’re very good at ‘formality’. I spent the first 23 years of my life in the UK, and while I wouldn’t say that I’m a ‘royalist’ – I am very proud of my English/Welsh heritage. As an artist, I like to think that our personal history somehow comes through in our work; and looking back through some of my pieces it’s quite easy to see that I rely heavily on English artists.

Let’s go through some of the pieces and you’ll understand what I mean.

John William Waterhouse: English painter (1849-1917). Known for his Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s style of painting. A firm favorite of mine!

The Crystal Ball
Psyche Opening the Golden Box

John Constable: English painter (1776-1837). Famous for his british landscapes (particularly Suffolk – where my husband grew up!).

The Hay Wain.

John Everett Millais. English Painter (1829-1896). One of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood movement (and one of my all-time favorite paintings). This one often gets attributed to Waterhouse.


Thomas Ralph Spence. English painter (1845-1918). English painter, architect, designer.

Sleeping Beauty

Thomas Creswick. English painter (1811-1869). Known for his landscapes.

Bolton Abbey (a place I visited often as a child).

L.S. Lowry (English painter 1887-1976). Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England in the mid-20th century. I love every single painting of his!!

Going To Work.
At the Seaside.

Sir. Frederic Leighton. English Painter (1830-1896). Member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Flaming June.

Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851). English painter and engraver chiefly known as a caricaturist and illustrator of sporting subjects and coaching scenes. 

Newmarket Etching

Let’s shift gears and move on to fabric. One of my all-time favorite designers is William Morris. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love his textiles and wallpapers?

William Morris. (1834-1896). British textile designer, poet, artist.

Gustavian Loveseat, using William Morris ‘Honeysuckle’ fabric.
Antique loveseat, using ‘Honeysuckle’ fabric (again)
It’s almost an addiction at this stage.

While I will admit that I love Morris design so much that I would fill my entire home with his designs, I’ve also been known to use custom fabric. While upholstery is a LOT of fun to do, it is also very time consuming and labor intensive; this doesn’t really bother me because I love to torture myself – and really, the bigger challenge the higher the reward, right? (my daily mantra while doing upholstery). But, because of the time etc involved (meaning that when I upholster I go in with the mindset that it’s a ‘one and only’ time – never to be ripped off and replaced), I really encourage you to only use fabric that you absolutely positively love. Labor costs for upholstery can be pretty expensive – so if you have to pay for someone to do the work, make sure that you use fabric that you will love forever!

Lady of Shalott Armchair

And let’s finish on a ‘regal note’ : Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth I.

Lady Jane Grey aka The Nine Days Queen.

And the best till last.

Queen Elizabeth I ( not related to King Charles III).

I think it’s a safe thing to say that yes, I have been heavily influenced by artists from the Motherland. Art exists because it allows us to tell a story; Our story, our narrative – a way to connect with others. I will always be grateful for the inspiration that past artists have given me. While I will never get to the upper echelon that they mastered, it is still a pure joy to reinterpret their work. As Degas said “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see“.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll raise my glass to you and say ‘Cheers’ and ‘Bottoms Up’!!

Diane aka The Paint Factory

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