Nel Whatmore Biography Continued:

...Shortly afterwards, in 1986, I was awarded a grant from the ‘Princes Youth Business Trust’ and was one of the few people chosen to represent the ‘Princes Youth Business Trust’ at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1990. Although I have been a professional artist since 1986, I was probably first aware of having talent when I was just 10 years old. While my family is not obviously artistic, there are a few notable exceptions. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and those that are very skilled with their hands.

My exhibitions have taken place at the Albert Docks in Liverpool, Chelsea Flower Show and numerous ‘Princes Youth Business Trust’ shows at the NEC in Birmingham. As well as this I have also held my own one-woman show for over 12 years. This major exhibition was held, for the first time in 2001, at the Halcyon Gallery in Birmingham and was a resounding success. My work is now sold widely both here in the UK and in America, as well as other countries, in the form of limited editions, posters, and greeting cards.

The love I have for what I do and the person that I am creates a continual need in me to explore my talent to its limits. Inspiration comes from things large and small, from feelings deep inside, to fleeting glimpses of colours, the world around me and the mediums that I use. The fun of it for me, is in the music that I play while painting that focuses the mind, and the striving to get that picture in your head that stays forever out of reach. To sit back and pat yourself on the back means that you have arrived, so what’s the point of doing any more. Dissatisfaction it is not, just the knowledge that it could be better next time drives me on. I love music with a passion and cannot paint without it. I frequently dance while working and listen to very loud music. The links between music and painting are clear – both need movement, rhythm and emotion to really be of worth. I listen to a wide range of music letting different types suggest different subjects. I have very eclectic taste in music from soul to folk to dance and classical. The common thread is that it all moves me emotionally. Although I am well known for painting flowers, I change my subject matter regularly, depending on my mood and what inspires me at the time. I intrinsically like change and cannot just paint flowers or landscapes or whatever for a long period. The joy and inspiration comes from approaching a new subject with fresh eyes and an eager heart. Recently I have really found a new lease of life in abstract painting, an area I had previously not tackled. The response has been overwhelming, which is fantastic, as it is one of the greatest challenges to move someone with colour and shape alone, without the constraints of the figurative. Whatever the subject, much of my work is related to my family life which is extremely important, and consequently my work is almost like a diary of the year’s events. The beach and landscape scenes that I paint are all taken from places that I have visited, either with my family or on my own. They are very personal to me, and a very important part of my life. I also, however, enjoy capturing slices of other people’s lives, reflecting the changing world around us. Everything I do is from life.

I cannot say this is how I do it from A to Z, step by step. Why? Because each subject determines what is needed; whether it’s an expansive landscape or a single flower. I have become used to using pastels and have explored the many ways to apply it, and the great variety of surfaces on which to work on. I now find myself drawn to oils, which is a whole new ball game. I always learn as I am physically drawing or painting. I do not read about it first and then have a go; I just do it and see what happens.

Colour is a large part of my work and I am definitely drawn to certain colours depending on my frame of mind at the time.

My typical working day, when it’s not school holidays, is a juggling act. Like most of us who try to cram a lot into our lives, it’s a balance between being a mother, a wife, a friend and an artist. My husband Mark Morris is a writer and has shared looking after our two children Polly and David from day one. Usually I do breakfast and take the kids to school, then rush home to make phone calls and do some admin. I find this clears my head so that I can usually start to paint from 10.30am and carry on until 1pm. I’ll then stop for lunch and get some fresh air and a change of scenery.

My studio is at the top of the house and Mark’s study on the ground floor. He likes complete quiet, whereas I play music very loud and sing and dance whilst painting! After lunch I either paint again for most of the afternoon, either in or out of my studio, or on days when it’s my turn to collect, I pick up the children from school at around 3pm. Other things always encroach on my painting such as customers visiting, trips to the framers, yoga (which I would never give up), the children’s friends for tea, parties and other after school things. The day ends with allsorts from gin and tonic with friends, to movies and social do’s, to time in our garden or reading and chatting. It is always full to over brimming!

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