Meet Saltwood artist Deborah Woodward

PUBLISHED: 16:14 11 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:14 11 February 2016

Deborah Woodward

Deborah Woodward

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Deborah Woodward has transformed her house into a gallery holding her glorious canvases of flowers on every wall.

Saltwood artist Deborah Woodward’s story is one of overcoming adversity. After a series of operations which left her unable to return to her career as a pharmaceutical technician, her daughter suggested Deborah take up painting.

From that moment on she has never looked back and tells me: “I put everything I can into my art, that’s my life.”

Her art is all around her. Rather than working in a studio shed in the garden, we are talking in Deborah’s lounge, where an easel is set up with her current work in progress.

It’s a children’s illustration, a naïf depiction of a coastal village in the bright hues which characterise this artist’s paintings. Around the walls are marvellous flower paintings and I am taken aback by a work which reminds me of Hockney; it’s a copy, and rather wonderful.

Deborah, who has been in Saltwood 12 years, started painting by creating some cards, which she took in to Hythe vintage gift shop Elysian Treasures. They all sold and she was asked for more, until the work became her obsession and she now sells all over Kent at different Art Fairs.

“It might not be Fine Art and some galleries have refused me, but the work sells and I get commissions to do work,” she says. The fairs she mainly exhibits at each year are the Polly and Paloma Fair in Sandwich and the Unique-A-Fayre in Allington Castle near Maidstone.

“I have developed from ‘just’ being an artist, to being a self-supporting, self-taught artist with the sales of prints and gallery quality hand-made greetings cards, sold in independent shops throughout Kent,” she says with pride. Deborah has also had work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

There is no doubt in her mind that Kent is a great place to live and work. “There is beautiful countryside, plenty of fresh air, wonderful gardens to visit.”

When I ask if she could live and paint anywhere in the world, where would she choose, without hesitation she says: “Cornwall; we visit two or three times a year, the light is magnificent and the gardens inspirational. We stay on the Roseland Peninsula, which has some fantastic galleries.”

Deborah says that formal art training has not been important for her, although she did attend a year-long watercolour course at the Cube in Folkestone. “For somebody younger, thinking of doing it for a career, it may be important. For myself, I built up by looking at art galleries and I fell in love with colour.”

So if Deborah had to paint in one colour only, which would it be? She finds this hard to answer. “I couldn’t paint in one colour. My favourite colours are purples and greens. All the floral paintings have green and the purple iris is a favourite theme.” Purple was first discovered from pounding up seashells in the Mediterranean, an expensive and laborious process before the invention of chemical paint.

Deborah’s preferred genres are floral and landscape. Her favourite media, acrylics and watercolour. The process of choosing what to paint frequently derives from her regular dog walking and the colours of the landscape are prominent in her work. She also takes a lot of photographs in gardens for reference purposes.

To attempt the transition from 3D to two dimensions in paint, Deborah works up many layers with an impasto technique. There is no preparative ritual for creating a canvas: “I just get up, walk the dog and come back and paint.” She works in various sizes, for example small blocks with canvas, but has also done a 6ft by 4ft piece, now sold, depicting a red floral design.

Deborah’s artistic hero is David Hockney “because his work is exciting, vibrant and it tells a story.” Of his 2012 exhibition at the Royal Academy, Deborah liked the later work and the I-Pad images. She is a fan of the use of technology in art and says: “All types and ways of exploring art give people enthusiasm, and creativity is always good.”

Her own most exciting works are the big canvases: “You can lose yourself in them, especially if they are floral.” Over the TV hangs a large floral work which Deborah says she would never sell; nor the Hockney landscape.

Deborah’s advice to young artists is “to paint every day if you can.” Her own practice sees her painting from 9.30am to 6pm each day, five days a week, with breaks for walking the dog.

Her future plans are to create “a slightly bigger empire than what I have now, to sell more and to spread the love of flowers around.” The works on her walls are a fine testament to this, so go down and see her work at the fairs.

Get in touch

Deborah will be at the Ashford International Carano Arts Fair on 28 February, held at Ashford International Hotel. For dates later in the year, please visit her website, www.dw2010art.co.uk,

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