In the Studio: Shelagh Kenny

From photographing the dramatic skies and rolling peaks of Cumbria on her family trips to the Lake District to finding solitude and peace painting their outdoor adventures from the comfort of her home studio, join us as we get to know more about Shelagh Kenny’s art practice in this months featured artist blog.

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

I work mostly with acrylic paint as I like the vibrancy of the colours. I love how acrylic paint coats the brush and the way it can be applied luxuriously on to the canvas.

Describe your style of art:

I would describe my style as abstract impressionism, I like to capture the beauty of my surroundings through my own lens.

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 enjoy taking photographs and using them as reference for my paintings, once I have the perfect photograph, I will start on the canvas.

I usually start by preparing the canvas, using a good few coats of gesso, then I map out the foreground, middle and background with a mixture of burnt umber and red.

Once I have built the structure of the painting, I then start to fill the canvas with colour, using the palette I’ve chosen for that particular piece.

I have an intuitive relationship with my paintbrush and often like to let the brush guide my hand through the painting, I will follow the path the painting takes me on and watch it come together.

When did you begin your career in art? 

I have always liked to paint in my spare time and I’ve often painted works for friends and relatives on request, but, working full time and bringing up a young family meant I never really had the time to take up painting seriously, until now!

I am a self-taught artist and I love the thought of people enjoying my paintings as much as I enjoy painting them.

Who or what inspires your art? 

The great outdoors truly inspires me. The natural beauty of the sunset across a beach or the rising of the sun through the early morning clouds, shining over the country hills, sights like these inspire me and inspire my paintings greatly.

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

I love all of my paintings but my recent painting “Day Break” is my favourite. When I started the painting, I had in mind exactly what I wanted to capture; the morning light of the day just appearing in the sky and reflecting over the sea. I went with the paint and pallette and let my vision to come to life on the canvas.

day-break-shelagh-kenny

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

To be creative in your own right, be bold with your paint strokes, don’t be afraid of the paint and the canvas, just go with it.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a large abstract seascape with mysterious shades of greens, greys and blues encapsulating a misty and dramatic skyline.

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

I do have a strange habit… I have to surround myself with jars of clean water when I’m painting as I don’t like cloudy water from mixing paints, I can have up to six or seven jars on the go at once. I couldn’t say I’ve learnt any strange techniques in my paintings but I’m open to suggestions!

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

I love listening to classical music whilst I paint. 🎶

John Barry’s orchestra is my favourite, I find his music to be so relaxing and calm, it really puts me into a zone of creativity.

Discover more of Shelagh’s original artwork on our online shop!