Incoming Chair, Mel Collins has had a baptism of fire with the Covid-19 crisis affecting the first exhibition of her tenure. She has handled the whole thing with aplomb and managed to secure the venue for later in the year, switching it to our Selected Exhibition. She is being true to her answer to the final question we asked her.

Here are some burning questions for Mel

What led you to start painting:
I studied A Level Art and Architecture alongside Economics and Geography in the 70’s and wanted to go to Art College. I was guided to go to University and study Geography and then a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education. This was probably good advice as I taught Geography in secondary schools for all of my teaching career! Over the years I produced the odd painting, sketch, LP cover design and drawing and my classroom was said to be ‘artistic’ but I didn’t paint seriously for the next 40 years!

On my retirement from education I went to a Watercolour class at the local College. Gilly Marklew, an SEAW Member at the time, was my tutor and she inspired me to paint hard, explore watercolour techniques and focus on composition and tonal balance. I have painted regularly and enthusiastically ever since!

Do you have a preference for painting style? If so, can you describe it?
I only paint in watercolour. I spend a lot of time on composition and practice before embarking on my preferred watercolour method of wet washes, allowing pigments to combine and run in soft combinations. I love painting people and telling stories through my compositions.

Describe your perfect weekend
Good food, good wine, going to the cinema and having people around for afternoon tea!

The best thing ever invented was:
my soup maker

A person who changed my life is:
my new baby grandson

My favourite game as a child was:
hitting a tennis ball against a rough stone wall – I still play tennis regularly

The best thing I ever ate was:
all vegetarian food

If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Try and get on with the cookery teacher!

My favourite place to paint is (and why):
anywhere that is warm, quiet, peaceful and contains only me as I need to concentrate completely when I am painting

Is there somewhere on your wish list of places to go and paint? If so, where and why?
Tuscany – I hear the light and colours are brilliant!

Artists who inspire you:
Klimt and Lowry

The gallery I would always travel to visit is:
I’d like to go to Berlin as I hear it is brilliant for Art

Your favourite colour to paint with?
Daniel Smith ‘Moonglow’

Best piece of advice you were ever given about art
‘Practice, Practice ,Practice and use the best quality paper you can afford’

Best piece of advice you were ever given about anything
‘Do not be scared of leadership’