Kent artist Carol Yvonne Marsh

With a wild humour reminiscent of Beryl Cook,Walmer artist Carol Yvonne Marsh's work brightens a dull day

Carol Yvonne Marsh is bursting with passion and enthusiasm for art and uses a variety of media, from collage, to oils, acrylics and, in what I think are her most striking works, enamels and inks. Her wicked sense of humour can also be seen in some of the comedy pieces. We are looking at an oil painting of some figures with cake and the little church at St. Margaret’s-at-Cliffe.Carol Yvonne has been in Walmer since 2000, where she runs an antiques and bric-�-brac business with her husband. She has been painting since she was 16, and attributes the sudden desire to formalise her art to a passing comment made by a client: “Why don’t you do a degree?” So for the past few years she has been studying at Canterbury’s University for the Creative Arts (UCA), and although Carol Yvonne says she doesn’t think formal art training is important, she notes a couple of advantages. “People in the art world look at you differently if you’ve studied,” she says, adding that it’s taught her genres beyond the variety she used. She also enjoys the ‘flash exhibitions’, day events for the students at UCA where they exchange views and opinions on each other’s work.Why did she choose to paint? “It’s a passion, a really strong one. I dream about it at night and get lots of inspiration from dreams. I might wake up and write down ideas. I’m not really interested in the home-making aspect of things,” she laughs. We are surrounded by her works, in a studio which doubles as kitchen and perhaps even a dining room. I particularly like the enamels, which Carol Yvonne chooses to use because of their intensity. These are often mixed with inks in a total hands-off method, using pipettes. “I use FW ink, a product made by Daler Rowney, who have been very helpful. The turps used in oils would upset me, so they suggested water-based material, including a water-based enamel, polyvine. Daler Rowney have also recommended a soluble varnish which goes in with the ink and enamel, giving a translucent effect.” A series of landscapes around the walls includes Oxley Bottom and the bright verdant green of the Kent countryside in spring. “With ink and enamel, there’s a certain chance aspect. While you lay something out in your mind, with the pipette it merges and melds. This gives the landscape a strong abstract aspect, which is appealing,” she says. To prepare for a new project, Carol Yvonne will always take her camera with her. “A lot of my work is about my emotions and experiences. Inspiration will come from looking at lots of paintings, I’ll go on the internet, look at lots of books or go out with my camera. I’m quite spontaneous, I’ll work quickly and stop.”She adds: “If I look at Rothko’s paintings, especially with oranges and yellows, I remember Mivvi ice creams from childhood. I’m not synaesthesist, but often emotions will trigger memories, particularly colours.” Her artistic heroes include Howard Hodgkin, but also the Expressionists, an influence that can be seen in the more representational comic works.Indeed, one of Carol Yvonne’s favourites is her Queen Elizabeth I walking through a topiary garden wearing a crooked crown.  More recently, she worked on a Tribute to Patrick, which commemorated her ballroom dance teacher from her teenage years in Wimbledon. “He used to have a Lavender room and a Spanish room, and he would pop off for a slug of gin every now and then,” she says.Is it a disadvantage not being in London? “I think I’m better off at a slower pace,” she says. “I like to have the contacts, which is what’s good about being at university. If I was in a group, I think I’d get swamped and be influenced too much.” Carol Yvonne has exhibited around Deal and the south coast, including at the Horsebridge in Whitstable and St. Peter’s Church, in Sandwich.