The Gallery - Richmond-based artist Sheila Smithson and her garden themed work

Sheila Smithson

Sheila Smithson - Credit: Archant

Yorkshire artist Sheila Smithson makes paintings that frequently feature gardens. These can be of her own tiny garden in North Yorkshire, ones she has visited and occasionally ones with an element of fairytale fantasy.

‘Gardens are tamed wildernesses, an attempt to control nature and impose some order on the way in which plants grow,’ says Sheila. ‘They are places of retreat, of beauty, an oasis where we can indulge our senses.

‘They are visually rich places that change constantly following the seasons and because of different weather and light conditions.’

Sheila, who studied at Canterbury and the Royal College of Art, adds: ‘The diversity of plant forms and the particular way in which each grows is fascinating. I make observational drawings of the structures, contrasting shapes and foliage patterns, the colours and details of plants as well as of the garden itself so that in a painting each element can be treated individually.’

Sheila says that she finds it very satisfying when gardeners can identify the plants in a painting.

While her work is about plants, it is also about pattern. ‘I like to emphasise pattern qualities in everything, such as paths, hedges, shadows for example to make the most visually of things that we often take for granted and don’t notice,’ says Sheila. ‘Often there are views through gaps in hedges or along paths creating a three dimensional space to wander in.’

Each painting starts out as a series of drawings made out in the garden. The drawings are then used back in the studio to make rough sketches in planning for a painting. These are done on wood, canvas or gessoed paper using mixed media.

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‘I hope that the paintings are optimistic and uplifting, a reminder of special days in the garden, paintings that bring the garden into the house,’ adds Sheila.

Sheila Smithson has exhibited recently in Bianco Nero Gallery, Stokesley and the Calder Gallery, Hebden Bridge, and has had a greeting card produced by Canns Down Press.

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