Celebrating Yorkshire with Lucy Pittaway
Lucy Pittaway, is renowned for her unmistakeable and whimsical paintings
How did you get into art?
There’s always been something in my nature that has lent me towards art. I just think it’s in my genes. My mum was a creative person, and I enjoyed spending my time doing fun things like making ceramic animals and other things out of clay. I also loved making jewellery. I spent a lot of time making shoebox houses that I would fill with furnishings I’d made from anything I could get my hands on.
How do you create your artwork?
The materials used by an artist during the creative process are very important as they are the medium through which we express ourselves. I create my pieces using highly pigmented soft pastels on board. This method allows me to get a lot of texture, shape and atmospheric detail into my pieces, which I do using my fingers, knuckles, and palms to blend the colours on the board – it’s a messy but playful process. I use a North East supplier for my pastels. Unison Colour pastels date back to the 1980s and produce outstanding pastels. They have a lightfastness and longevity that I really value, and let me bring playfulness, vibrancy and real moments of happiness to my work.
I’ve been very fortunate to have been awarded several accolades over the years. From the earlier days of being named Up and Coming Artist of the Year in 2016 and Best New Business in 2017, I went on to be named the Most Popular Published Artist in 2018 and 2019 by the Fine Art Trade Guild. We also won Art Business Website of the Year 2019 which reflected the hard work and dedication put in by the whole company, and I was so pleased that this was recognised. Another significant highlight that I am grateful for is having been appointed as the Official Artist of the Tour de Yorkshire for three consecutive years from 2016, where I was commissioned to paint official pieces to commemorate the tour’s visit to Yorkshire. I then went on to work with them again as the Official Artist of the UCI World Championships in 2019, where I was commissioned for new pieces to commemorate the competition.
In 2018 I was asked to work with the Chelsea Flower Show where I painted my impression of Welcome to Yorkshire’s gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden – A Yorkshire Garden. It brought to life a breathtaking summer scene in the rolling Yorkshire countryside showcasing lush green pastures, summer plants and flowers, a cultivated cottage garden, and a tumbling freshwater beck framing an imposing stone bothy. This was an incredible honour, and I loved every minute of it.
How has your work changed over time?
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to really explore my artistic style over the years which has been a journey that has led me to where I am today. I started using a photorealistic style, however I also took time to work with landscapes, pet portraits, life studies and more abstract styles. I also experimented with mixed media where I used canvas, sand and small stones to create texture in my art. I finally settled on my current style which I describe as illustrative and naive, but most importantly, it’s art that makes you smile. This became my most well-known style which continued to develop, and as things changed throughout my personal life and after I had children, they really changed my outlook on life and helped me see things differently – that’s where my style was born. There was no decision to be made, it was made for me. The hills were soft and round, houses had windows either side of a central door, usually with lights on and smoke floating out of the chimneys, always showing signs of life. Before children, I was painting dark blue night skies and houses close together; I was living back at home with my mum at the time and paintings like Too Close for Comfort reflect that. When I met my husband, work like A Passion Remembered and A Kiss of Light depicted a line of trees leading the way home and towards a glorious sunset – these need little explanation. The children’s arrival is represented by flowers in the foreground in paintings like A Strange New Beginning. My work really tells my life journey.
Describe your artwork in three words.
Uplifting, quirky and impassioned.
Your favourite piece of art created by you and why?
My favourite piece from my own collection is Father and Daughter. I painted this in memory of my late father Willie Maddren who passed away from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2000. I still love this piece even now; the stormy skies of the piece fill me with warmth, and I feel incredibly proud when I look at it. The piece represents the pride I have for my father’s fight against this awful disease and the love I have for him. The stormy skies represent his battle and the rays of sunlight his unwavering positivity and courage. The red and white flowers represent his beloved Middlesbrough Football Club, who he played for and later went on to manage. The juxtaposition of the dark skies and the blooming flowers are a testament to the adversity he faced, which he did with such a strong and cheerful spirit. This piece showcases everything I wanted it to and says everything I wanted it to say.
Your favourite piece of art created by someone else?
One of my favourite pieces is a classic by Claude Monet titled The Japanese Footbridge and is part of his Water Lilies collection. It’s such a visual piece and so peaceful to look at that I can feel myself drifting away.
How would you say Yorkshire has inspired artists?
As an artist, I love the variety that Yorkshire provides. It’s a canvas filled with so much different texture. The harsh and rugged Yorkshire Dales, the heather of the Yorkshire Moors, the wildflower meadows in the valleys of the fells enclosed by aged stone walls and well-worn streams, the scenery is stunning no matter where you go. It’s hard not to find inspiration no matter what medium an artist uses.
Another Yorkshire artist our readers will love?
Katie Smith is someone I like a lot and someone I’ve recently bought an original from. She is based out of Whitby and her pieces are inspired by her environment so expect to see a lot of seascapes and marine life. They are just so vibrant and colourful. I love her work!
What are you excited about for your business this year?
I’m always excited to work on new projects and artwork collections as it takes me back to the drawing board and back in touch with what my customers want to see. However, I also love getting stuck into the business side of things. We have experienced both rapid growth and crippling uncertainly and have had to re-evaluate some of our business decisions meaning introducing new people, systems and ways of working to the business. It is exciting projects like this which continue to push us in the right direction. We continued to expand our high-street presence by opening a gallery in Keswick in 2021 which has been a great success so far, and we look forward to welcoming tourists to the area this season. There are plans for further expansion of our retail stores with new locations in the pipeline.
Who inspires you?
People. Whether it’s family, children, colleagues, friends, or people I don’t even know. People inspire people. Anyone with story of strength, resilience and those working to overcome adversity and tragedies really strike a chord with me. People can come from challenging backgrounds and face some of the worst possible situations and pull themselves out of it, in the face of all obstacles and hardship. I’m also inspired by positive people who want to make the world a better place.
Children are also inspirational: it’s their innocence and happy go lucky outlook on life. They’re fun to be around and I take a lot of inspiration from that and channel it into my art with the hope that it makes others smile with they see it.
How do you relax?
I practice mindfulness including meditations, journaling, and yoga. These forms of exercises really help me feel balanced which is great when the work-life balance is a challenge. I also love being outdoors; nature not only inspires me as an artist but invigorates my soul so when we spend time as a family in the Lake District, I’m very happy.
New collections and new ways of reaching our customers. It’s an exciting time!
What’s new for you?
From a creative perspective, I will be taking my artwork in a new direction very soon and exploring some new themes, subjects, and topics that I think people will enjoy. Watch this space!