In the Studio: Penny Burton

This month dot-art takes a peek into the life of artist member Penny Burton. 

Join us as we get to know more about Penny’s life in the fashion industry, from pattern cutting in the ’60s to selling her designs in the ’70s, to owning three boutique stores some years later, Penny tells us how the icons, styles & fashions that surrounded her world for over 42 years, continue to influence her paintings today. 

Which medium do you work with and what do you like about it specifically?

Acrylic paint is my preferred medium, I like that you can correct your mistakes, although it’s not quite as good as the delete button when I’m making work on my iPad!

Describe your style of art:

I would describe my work as figurative, each time I work towards an abstract piece, it usually ends up with a face on it! For each figurative portrait, I try to convey an individual narrative behind the face and capture the character and spirit of the person through paint.

Can you talk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just go straight in? How long do you spend on one piece? How do you know when it is finished?

I start with a sketch for proportion, then choose the palette. I always mix the colours and very rarely use a colour direct from the tube. The amount of time spent on each work varies depending on content and size, but never less than 30 hours unless it’s really small. It’s not finished until it sells and goes to a new home, then I can let it go and hope it will be happy and make somebody else happy.

When did you begin your career in art? 

I have always loved fashion and drawing. In the ‘60s I started pattern cutting and constructing clothing, and by the ‘70s I owned a boutique selling my designs. I ended up with three more stores and had a successful career in the fashion industry for 42 years.

I slowly started to focus back on drawing and painting, although my experience and love for fashion continues to inspire my work. I stopped selling fashion in 2014 and since then it has been all about painting.

Who or what inspires your art? 

Faces and fashion. It’s always an emotional process from the preliminary image to the final painting.

What is one of your favourite pieces that you have done and why? 

One of my favourite pieces to have worked on is ‘Over’. In times of a broken relationship, I believe that quite a number of people understand the work and connect to it on a deeper level, viewing the work in a way which relates to them personally.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

Don’t lose heart when it’s not working out.

What’s your most unusual artistic habit/strangest technique which you have learnt?

I occasionally hold the painting up to a mirror!

What are your favourite things to listen to whilst painting? If anything! 

All music, except husband’s progressive rock!

Discover more of Penny’s original artwork and limited edition prints on our online shop!