Welcome to our first “Meet the Friend” article

When did you start painting?

I first started painting in August 2017.

What led you to start painting?

I used to draw with wet and dry pencils occasionally, but never paint. Strangely, I feared it. However, after my wife died of cancer in March 2017, my son, daughter and I had a torrid time of it. To try and cope with our respective grief, we all elected to have a ‘holiday’ away from the home doing something we felt would help. I chose art. My sister’s best friends were an artist couple at the Bradness Gallery, near Lewes, so I enrolled on a three day course there. I have since attended three more courses, having found peace through painting and a great love of watercolour.

How long have you been a Friend of the SEAW?

Two wonderful years.

What attracted you to join?

When I moved to Helions Bumpstead, a friend invited me to attend a painting day in the village hall run by Vandy. The rest is history!

What subject matter do you like to paint?

My absolute favourites are African and UK wildlife, and they constitute most of my work. However, I also enjoy dabbling in an Art Deco-ish poster style, particularly of diving (from springboards). I also enjoy the occasional aircraft.

Do you have a preference for a painting style? If so, can you describe it?

I mentioned my Art Deco-ish poster style above, but my preferred style is what I term a ‘lazy loose’, whereby a part of my work is the loose style, and part a wee bit more detailed.

Are you a pure watercolourist? Or do you include other mediums in your paintings?

I’m not a pure watercolourist in overall terms, but will be pure in some of my paintings. However, I learnt the exquisite joy of using liquid charcoal from Stephie Butler, and in some paintings, particularly with flowers, I like to use W&N Indian inks.

Where do you paint?

I paint at home in my studio. At present, my studio is the conservatory, but I am currently converting a barn, in which I have designed a large studio. I am chomping at the bit to get into it!

I like to have so much painting equipment around me and music accompanying me, so prefer a studio. As I sing along, I’m doing the peace of the countryside a favour by staying indoors! As I also love photography, the one creative joy helps the other.


Which artists inspire you and why?

Oddly, the artists that have inspired me are a style I don’t tend to employ. I think I admire their talent; they can do so brilliantly what I cannot. I don’t feel jealous about that, but rather relish it.

The movement that inspires me is that of the Pre-Raphaelites, and of them, Frank Cadogan Cowper’s ‘Vanity’ just blows me away. His mastery of skin tone and the various materials is breathtaking. I also love Vermeer for his detailed simplicity.

More recent, it would have to be David Shepherd, since his subjects of wildlife and aircraft appeal to me hugely. I was fortunate to meet him on a number of occasions, and he kindly wrote the forward to a book I published on the Blackburn Beverley, an aircraft on which my father served.

That said, I am daily in awe by the work of various artists too numerous to mention.

What galleries do you like to visit?

I have enjoyed many, but my favourite would have to be the Guildhall Art Gallery. When working in London, I was based very close to this gallery, and so I spent many a lunch hour sitting with my sandwich, lost in a world of wonderful paintings, many of them my adored Pre-Raphaelites.

Where would you really like to travel to and paint? What is it about this place that inspires you?

It would have to be Botswana, Kenya or Tanzania for the wildlife. In better times, I saw a two week wildlife painting safari with Hazel Soan advertised, and I would certainly find that inspiring for so many reasons.

What is your favourite colour to paint with?

As I have a real soft spot for both foxes and African Painted Dogs, I find I tend to find that my go-to colour is more often than not Sennilier Quinacridone Gold.

What is your favourite brush?

Not sure if this is brush or make of brush, but nevertheless, my answer is similar, in that I don’t have a favourite.

Because I am vegetarian, I don’t use animal brushes. I have four go-to synthetic ones that I love and always use, adding others as and when. The four are:

3/0 ProArte Prolene Plus

3    ProArte Prolene Plus

6    SAA Imitation Sable Round

10  da Vinci Cosmotop Spin

More than just a Duck by Isobelle Gladstone

Do you have any artistic successes or achievements that you would like to share with readers?

My achievements are few, but precious to me. Putting on my own art exhibition for a month in 2019; having a painting selected for the SEAW 2020 Exhibition; having my cheeky fox as the SEAW lead website painting for January this year; and featuring a painting on the front cover of the December Helions Bumpstead village magazine. Being the first Meet the Friend is pretty special too!

For me, my successes are these, particularly when I have to remind myself that I only began watercolour painting in late 2017.

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given about art?

I’m not sure who told me or if I read it, but essentially it was to say that no painting is a failure, for each one provides a lesson on what works and what doesn’t.

More Isobelle


Society memberships: SEAW,

Group memberships: Animal Artists Beginners to Advanced, Women Watercolorists