'Old Leigh Creek' by Sharon Henson
Buying art as a gift; our guide. It was Christmas 2017. I vividly remember eyeing a rectangular shaped present nudging out from under the tree. Convinced it was going to be another recipe book, I peeled away the layers of tissue paper and was delighted to discover a jewel of a painting. It was a magical winter forest scene by local artist Annette Waddy- Smith. I knew Annette through Peter Smith's Art group and I'd always admired her work, which made the gift even more special. It was an easy purchase for my husband as we had visited Atelier gallery together; he had seen my jaw drop as soon as I laid eyes on the painting and he knew I loved it. Without doubt, it's my most treasured Christmas present ever and it brings me so much joy. In a society where images are so quickly reproduced, reposted and edited, original art becomes even more meaningful. It can stand the test of time, transport you to a place, evoke a precious memory or, just simply make you feel good! Buying art as a present is not always that simple, so we have put together a few ideas to try to make easier for you.
Smaller works can be a great gift as they fit into most spaces; collections of mis-matched art alongside photographs can work really well together.
We have original art to suit all budgets- it doesn't need to cost a fortune!
Test the water; we have nine pages of portfolios on our website to look at. Even better, once the restrictions lift, visit the gallery or take a stroll past our window to view the paintings.
Check first- will the artist offer an exchange? At Two Tree Gallery, any painting purchased can be exchanged for another painting of the same price by the same artist.
A gift voucher is a safe bet- we now have gift vouchers for sale which can be spent on any of the artist's work.
For a truly special gift, a large painting can make a stunning present and be an investment. Again, check our website and online shop for larger works available.
Finally, what to do if the painting you wanted has been sold? Contact the artist, they may have something similar or may be willing to do a commission. Individual artist contact details are all on our website.
'Sunrise from Gypsy Bridge' by Sharon Henson This month, Claire gets to interview the plein-air artist Sharon Henson. A regular on the Leigh Art Trail, Sharon is well known locally for her ability to paint on location- not an easy feat! Amongst other things, we get to discover why she is drawn to this particular art practice, who her influences are and her art plans for the future. I first met Sharon on a zoom meeting back in March when I joined the gallery, it was great to meet the person behind the art as like most people locally, I'd seen her expressive landscapes on the Leigh Art Trail. I'm slightly in awe of Sharon, not being the most organised person myself, the thought of painting a landscape from start to finish in the open air fills me with horror! Sharon also put together our gallery website, which we are all truly thankful for.
Tell us about your art education and how you became an artist.
I had a formal art education, starting with A Level Art, followed by an Art Foundation course at Southend Technical College. Finally, I studied Graphic Design at St Martins School of Art in London and graduated with a first class BA Honours degree. This led to a 20 year career as a multi-media designer, working in London and around the world for galleries, museums, visitor centres and corporate clients. Although having studied and worked as a designer, I have always been a photographer and a painter in my spare time. Since 2000 I have become a full time artist and supplement my income by running a painting and decorating business.
What do you enjoy about teaching art and what classes are you running?
Inspiring other people to fall in love with drawing and painting is very rewarding. Encouraging others to try new techniques and experiment with colour, texture and composition is exciting. My mantra is TTTE: tone, temperature, texture and edges - this is the key for amazing paintings. I teach people of all abilities and ages, and currently (when not in lockdown) run classes on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening 7-9pm, which I hold in my studio at home. I also run workshops for small groups of friends who want to enjoy a creative activity together. In the past I have organised and led staycation art breaks and I hope to resume these trips in 2021.
What is it you love about Plein-Air painting?
Plein Air painting - painting in the open air, is an immersive and direct way of painting, appreciating the landscape around you. It is challenging to capture the ever-changing light and mood of the moment. I especially like alla prima – ‘at once’, the method of painting in one application. Many of the great artists would scratch their signature into the wet paint, to prove this was their method. I especially love our local seascape in Leigh-on-Sea. I consider myself a plein air artist and predominantly paint this way.
Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
The last exhibition I visited with the Turner exhibition at Tate Britain. I especially enjoy his wonderful loose and turbulent mark marking and interpretation of his then modern world. His use of colour, tone and contrast is inspiring. His sketchbooks are amazing and a reminder to us all to keep sketchbooks. My favourite recommendation to all fellow artists is to keep a sketchbook on hand. A favourite quote by Thomas Edison: "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration." This quote is so apt for artists. One of my most-loved artists is Matisse and one of my favourite movements is Fauve. My visit to Collioure on the Mediterranean coast last year, where Matisse and André Derain painted, was amazing.
What are your art plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to dedicate more time to my painting, including regular trips out especially as the weather improves as we move into Spring. I have entered to take part in 'Paint Out Norfolk 2021' and look forward to 8 days plein air painting. I am also working on making myself more visible on-line including adding a shop feature to my website - sharonhenson.co.uk. I also look forward to organising future art holidays and mini breaks.