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Q&A: Nature’s Paintbox


Local artists Julia Patience, Denise Fisk and Jan Moffitt will soon be bringing their colourful, nature inspired exhibition to our art gallery. The artists work in a variety of different medias, and different styles. The collection will celebrate how artists can interpret nature differently. Ahead of their group exhibition next month, Matt Saunders posed some questions to the three artists to get to know them and their work a little better.


How did you get into painting?

Julia: I have been painting since before I can remember. Aged 18, I completed a foundation course and then a degree in Visual Communication.

Denise: I have always been creative. Being brought up in a household of people who were always making, being it dressmaking, embroidery or carpentry. This gave me confidence to have the ambition to go to art school. I took a degree in textile design at Farnham College of art and the worked in the industry following graduation.


What draws you to your subjects?

Julia: After graduating, I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for 30 years before becoming a full-time artist. I used to illustrate plants and flower related subjects for magazines, but I wanted to paint what I wanted on a larger scale.

Denise: Whilst bringing up my children I began working on my own paintings and was drawn to trying to capture the Ashdown Forest. I am inspired by the many textures and layers of grasses, the colours and atmosphere of the forest.

I have worked on a series of florals for this exhibition, again creating gentle colours and textures. I also practice regular life drawing as this discipline of looking and drawing is of great value for an artist.

Jan: The wonder of nature, bright colours and humour. I really enjoy life drawing, it’s such a challenging exercise – it’s like an artist’s workout.

Which artists influence your work?

Julia: I can’t remember my work being influenced by anyone, as artists I admired painted landscapes and portraits. I ‘discovered’ Georgia O’Keefe many years later. However, since being awarded membership of the Society of Botanic Artists, I have come to love the work of botanical artists both traditional and contemporary, from Pierre Redouté and Marianne North, to the wealth of today’s international botanical artists.

Jan: My mother – Erica Adams – was a professional artist when I was growing up so it seemed like a very natural and normal thing to do. I love Rodin’s dancer sculptures and I am inspired by artists who capture movement and joy and nature. I particularly like Matisse’s colourful cutouts.

Denise: Turner is one of my favourite artists who captures a landscape so beautifully.


What do you want people to take from your work?

Julia: I would like to inspire people to look more closely at what beauty lies all around them.

Jan: Joy.


What are the benefits of seeing work from three artists all in one place?

Denise: I think having 3 artists showing together creates an interesting exhibition to the visitors. They can see how diverse just a few individuals are in expressing their love of nature and the world around us. I hope also that it helps people to be inspired themselves to paint

Jan: Our styles are all very different, so I think that something in our exhibition will appeal to everyone.


Do you have any subjects you are longing to paint?

Jan: At some stage I would like to use a huge space, unlimited paints and supplies and get really messy creating a colourful abstract.


What are you working on next?

Jan: I’m working with 10 other artists to create artworks for the Tunbridge Wells 7 Springs residential home for disabled adults – I am involving some of the residents and other artists in my artwork which has been very inspiring. 

Julia: Between March-May 2018 I shall be exhibiting some of my tulip paintings at the botanic gardens in Madrid, in their ‘Tulipmania’ show. The response I get from exhibiting determines the direction of my work.

Having won the ‘Artists & Illustrators’ magazine prize at the recent Society of Botanical Artists show, awarded for my use of colour in my work, I shall be concentrating on the surprising variations of colour found in plants and flowers.


Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Denise: If I was to give any advice to someone who wants to become an artist I would say practice, practice and more practice!

Jan: Enjoy the process. Don’t expect everything you do to be good, you wouldn’t expect to be able to play the piano without practice. Try lots of different mediums.


See Nature’s Paintbox on display in our Gallery from 2 April – 15 April. Our Gallery is open Mon – Sat from 10am. There will be a chance to ‘Meet The Artists’ on Mon 2 Apr, from 3pm – 7.30pm, where you will have a chance to watch them paint! For full details of opening times, please see Your Visit.