Lucy de Albuquerque is a talented artist in about a million different media, watercolour, print making and collages to name a few. She’s also my aunty and a total favourite one at that. I’m so happy she’s the first in my series asking artists the question, ‘Why do you paint?’ as she’s got so much experience but she’s constantly trying new things - very inspiring. Here’s how our conversation went when we chatted about why she paints.
Cat: Hello Lucy! I know you haven’t got nearly enough on your plate so please can you guest blog for me as well… (that’s not quite how it went but you get the idea- luckily she said yes hooray!). Firstly, can you explain a bit about why you paint and what you get from it?
Lucy: Hello! Well, the first question is quite simple to answer: I paint because I LOVE it! Art has always been my ‘thing’ from a very young age. I grew up in an artistic family and my siblings and I were all born with the gift of being able to draw and we were always encouraged to use that gift.
I remember one of the most exciting birthday presents I ever received, when I was 9, was a small easel with an attached drawer filled with a selection of gouache paints. I painted a bowl of fruit which I gave to my godfather.
Cat: So where did you go from there? Did you instantly become a full time ‘proper artist’?!
Lucy: I then did art at ‘A’ level and specialised in art and drama at teacher training college but never really properly practised my art until I was married with a baby, living in London. I then started a very small, home-based, business decorating children’s chairs and children’s hairbrushes. I made a pittance, in fact just enough to buy my husband a nice Christmas present, but it made me very happy and it was something, separate from childcare, which was just for me.
When we moved from London to the country I joined a watercolour painting class and soon realised that my paintings were good enough to frame and sell. I started to exhibit in local exhibitions and set-up an annual fundraising art exhibition in aid of the local village school. I also did a mature students part-time course in Visual Art at Winchester School of Art before scuttling back to my watercolour painting!
About 15 years ago a neighbour asked me if I would teach her and a friend to paint in watercolours. I started giving lessons at my dining room table until the class grew to six people and it became unmanageable.
Then, the most wonderful thing happened. My life-long ambition to have a proper art studio was realised and it coincided with my retirement from teaching in schools. We owned an old single-storey tumble-down barn which we could eventually afford to rebuild to make a spacious, purpose- built studio where I could create a lovely arty mess without having to clear it up each time. I also had enough space to teach my art classes properly. I now have 10 students and give two lessons a week (5 in each class).
I try to refresh my teaching practice by occasionally going on different courses. In the last few years I have become interested in making collages and also print- making: lino printing, mono printing and paper litho in particular.
I also participate in the local Open Studio scheme, which is a very useful vehicle for selling paintings and self-promotion. It is also useful for getting to know other artists in the area and swapping ideas. I share this open Studio exhibition with other artists as I am fortunate to have the space.
So, to answer your question: what do I get from it? The answer is pure joy, self-validation and enough money for it to pay for itself plus a bit more!
Cat: finally, what would you say to someone who is worried about ‘getting it right’, or that they’re no good or don’t know how to start?
Lucy: I would say that fear of getting it wrong is a common problem - being terrified of not getting it right. Matisse said “creativity takes courage”. So often people have had their confidence knocked by a teacher or someone else, but at art school you are encouraged to come at drawing and painting like a child with no preconceived ideas. Being able to draw easily can make people pick up bad habits and become slick. Picasso said, “it took me four years to paint like Rembrandt but a life time to paint like a child.” It’s really about learning to look and finding joy in what you see. This leads to an urge to express it and describe it on paper - to create something. The other thing is that no artist ever feels they have got it completely right but they just have the urge to keep going - luckily, because the more you do it the better you get. Sorry to use the ‘j’ word but it is a continual and never - ending journey! Xxx
Cat: thanks so much Lucy! 💕
Lucy accepts commissions to paint dogs and houses (see her website for examples : www. lucydea.art )
Watch this space for more artists who are going to share their reasons for painting and their thoughts on starting out.