An Artist Life
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About

I am a Reportage Artist (the art of visual story telling) with a particular interest in museums, history and heritage. I work directly from life capturing ‘behind the scenes’ stories through sketching and painting. As well as exhibiting, I work to commission for both private and international commercial clients. Most recently I have had the pleasure of working with Research Casting International, Canada, documenting and recording the fabrication and installation process of the Blue Whale skeleton for the Natural History Museum in London.   I am also an experienced facilitator creating bespoke art projects for community groups, schools and museums. 

‘While photography is an excellent tool for capturing a realistic portrayal of the completed work, it does not capture the feeling, energy, passion or life that goes into creating our work.  Amanda captured all of this in the sketches and paintings executed from life in her residency with us...’

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Matt Fair, Production Manager, Research Casting International (RCI), June 2017

What excites you most about being an artist?

Painting and sketching from life forces me to be in the moment, to take stock and closely observe what’s happening in order to capture the energy and atmosphere of what’s in front of me. The most exciting thing about being an artist is that it allows me to express my perception of the world and share my vision.

For me the paintings and sketches that really work have been created when I’ve not tried to completely control what I am doing, but have allowed myself to work freely and expressively. This is followed by the excitement of sharing the work and what other people’s responses will be.

What is your background as an artist?

From a very young age I wanted to be an artist and sketched whenever the opportunity arose. Before studying illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, I had the good fortune to be part of one of the last cohorts of art students based at Ipswich Art School. I feel indebted to my tutor Ken Back (RAS) for his support and encouragement, as well as his exacting and enthusiastic teaching which spurred me on to pursue subjects that interested me, to sketch from life and work hard at honing my drawing skills. I particularly enjoyed life drawing, as well as sketching from the collections in the rather quirky museum next door. 

Those memories stayed with me and eventually led me to work in museums both as a teacher and an artist. I now enjoy dividing my time between teaching at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and working as an artist and illustrator. 

Which artists do you most admire - and why?

I was born in Yorkshire so have a huge affinity with David Hockney’s work, northern landscape and culture. At the Ashmolean Museum I am fortunate to experience the work of some of the artists I most admire; Paul Nash who I’m particularly drawn to for his strong bold emotive paintings, John Piper for his use of colour and design, Constable for his brilliant skies and fluid brush marks and Turner whose later, more expressive work I admire, especially for his remarkable expression of light.

How do you approach a new commission?

I am always delighted to receive a commission and enjoy discussing a new brief before immersing myself in sketching and recording a fresh environment, be it industrial, historical or both!

I am often asked to draw people at work, so I’ll take time to introduce myself and answer any questions. I find that after a while I become part of the furniture and that’s when I can do my best work, while everyone is getting on with their day. On a practical level, I spend time thinking about the media that will best suit the client, the environment and the documenting process.

I think it’s important to remain flexible, as unexpected things can often happen that become important parts of the story. I often like to work on more than one piece at a time to avoid over-working and also because things can suddenly change, which is what I find so exciting about what I do.