Meet Vanessa Foley
The bird artist we chose for Charlton Hall
An artist inspired by the diverse natural landscape of Northumberland’s coastal countryside, Vanessa Foley is an artist we have teamed up with to create a stunning wall mural that perfectly juxtaposes eccentric interiors with a touch of natural elegance to Charlton Hall.
Vanessa’s imposing piece takes pride of place in the hallway at Charlton Hall and here we ask the Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based artist about her inspirations for this piece of art and what she really thinks about Northumberland’s newest, cheekiest wedding and events venue!
We asked Vanessa:
1.What are your greatest influences as an artist?
“As I’m primarily a bird artist my main influence comes from the birds themselves. I have such a great love and am in perpetual awe of these amazing creatures and have an intense desire to portray them in newer and better ways, this keeps me constantly inspired.”
2. Who is your favourite icon and how have they inspired you?
“I have a long list of bird artists that hold iconic status to me, but in particular the New Zealand bird artist Raymond Harris Ching stands out. There are many artists out there who paint incredibly well and whose work could be mistaken for photos. Although I’m in awe of the skill such artists show, I feel their work is more about the considerable skill of the artist and less about the bird, but with Raymond Harris Ching I feel the secret life of every bird in his paintings, the work is all about the subject’s character and personality with exaggerated poses, unusual interactions and even occasional speech bubbles that bring life and vibrancy to his unsurpassable work.”
3. What is the most challenging project you have worked on?
“I think that my feeling is that the piece I’m currently working on is the most challenging project. My aim as an artist is to constantly be improving, so with each new drawing or painting I’ll try to add new elements to the work, improve my technique or tell the story of my subject in a deeper way. I’m certainly not someone who feels relaxed and refreshed after a day painting, every single artwork is a struggle that leaves me exhausted but satisfied as I see small glimmers of progress slowly emerging.”
4. How did you first discover your talent for drawing in such amazing detail?
“As long as I can remember I’ve always been very interested in drawing and painting. As a naturally shy child (and adult!) it was sort of the perfect escape from stressful situations. Although, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a little less relaxing now that art is my full-time job, I still do find the repetitive layering nature of my work and the intense focus on minute detail quite meditative.”
5. Where is your favourite place to be in the world and why?
“I have a great love of the English countryside and the Lake District in particular, I just love the quiet grandeur of the landscape and the fact it’s just an hour and a half drive from my home is an unbelievable luxury and one I never get tired of indulging in.”
6. Do you get inspiration for your work in lots of different places?
“I actually get a lot of inspiration from social media sites like Instagram. I have hundreds of incredibly talented, hard-working artists I follow in my feed and I get to see new work from them on a daily basis. I always find something new and inspirational in the work they produce.
But I get my main, and most important, inspiration from my extensive collection of bird art books. Although the internet can be a wonderful resource it’s no comparison to actually sitting quietly with a physical book. They are my constant companions and most treasured possessions.”
7. Have you ever considered different mediums to pencil / paint for an entire piece in your work?
“I’ve definitely dabbled in other mediums and have a large collection of art supplies that I’ve bought and promised myself time to learn, but there honestly just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day! I guess when it comes down to it, I would really rather spend that extra time perfecting any skills I have than starting fresh and taking baby steps with a brand new medium.”
8. Are you able to still make art for yourself / your own pleasure?
“Although the majority of my artwork is for clients or galleries, in the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to be able to carve out a little time for myself to work on passion projects. My focus is still very firmly on birds in these pieces but they are birds that have stolen my heart and I just have to paint or draw. I’m hoping this new freedom will encourage me to be braver in my choice of subject and composition, although I’m sticking firmly to birds, without worrying about frightening off galleries or clients!”
9. How did you feel to be asked to have your work included here at Charlton Hall, so close to home?
“In short I felt absolutely honoured! To have my work featured at such a stunning building is pretty amazing in itself, but for my work to be featured as part of the gorgeously eccentric interior design is a dream come true. As the vast majority of my work is shown in America it’s very exciting that Charlton Hall is so close to home, I can’t wait to visit!”