Having grown up in Sussex by the sea and keeping pets from a young age, I am especially drawn to cats. They are clever, independent and wonderful companions.
After qualifying at Bournemouth Arts University I moved to London and worked for various publishers as a freelance illustrator. It was after moving back to Sussex when I was given my cat Lucy, a young tortieshell. She was very athletic and liked to run up trees but it wasn't so easy getting down again.
I like to practise yoga and meditation and cats love to join in, especially in 'downward dog'.
Walking by the sea, being in nature and stroking a cat are great ways to relax.
I lived on a Greek island and looked after many cats there. Gingers, tabbies, black and white 'Felix' cats, and a Siamese called Coco. Meal times were a little chaotic and there was the odd fracas but I enjoyed every moment. I helped the visiting vet with the annual neutering programme which was a great success. My special cat there was a Russian blue named Ellie who I raised from a kitten.
I recently volunteered for Cats Protection who do a great job sheltering and rehoming unwanted cats and kittens. They have shelters and charity shops nationwide.
I like to sketch cats in pencil while they relax and in my artworks try to convey humour and a certain smugness. I love to paint their fur in oils which gives great depth and especially enjoy creating cats in snowy scenes for Christmas. I am looking forward to the new film about Bob the street cat, by James Bowen. Its an amazing story of how the homeless man was befriended by this special ginger cat and turned his life around.
Painting in Greece
I spent 2 weeks in Kos in October 2014 and was inspired by the history, colours, and natural landscape. Situated in the Cyclades islands near the Turkish coast, Kos is shaped like a dolphin and has clear seas, sandy beaches and a mountainous landscape. Not overly green, it has olive groves and pine trees. I have spent many months painting the Greek islands ( see Greece page). I hope to paint more of Kos and the nearby volcanic island of Nisyros soon. I have just completed the oil sunset painting left which shows a typical Greek sky at dusk.
A Painting Trip by Mary Stubberfield
Sometimes, despite being inspired by nature, cities and everyday objects artist's block sets in. No matter how hard I try, inspiration eludes me. So I use the time to do other things like updating my websites, tidying the studio and sorting out my paints and brushes. I enjoy cooking and gardening too.
The ultimate cure for my artist's block, however, is a painting trip abroad! I spent several months in Greece on one long painting spree and now take short trips away whenever possible. Having just got back from the Cote d'Azur I am feeling inspired and refreshed as an artist.
We stayed in Nice by the Promenade des Anglais, following the footsteps of Monet, Picasso and Matisse, walking by the azure Mediterranean Sea and taking in the Venetian architecture of Vieux Ville (the old town) The flower market is a mass of colour and the beautifully displayed shops and ice-cream parlours make interesting subjects. Colourful cafe scenes play out below the terracotta rooftops and overflowing window boxes. We climbed Castle Hill and were astonished to see a magical waterfall overlooking stunning views of the city and bay.
Walking down the steps to the Port, we stopped there for salade nicoise and brushetta enjoying the view of the ferries and yachts.
Nice boasts several fantastic museums including Musee Matisse, Musee National Marc Chagall, Musee d'Art Naif A. Jakovsky which offer further inspiration. I particularly enjoyed the use of bright colours in the Musee d'Art Naif and Chagall's stained glass auditorium.
When on a trip I usually sketch and take lots of photographs, sometimes doing quick watercolours in situ. The real work starts on the return to the studio back home, where I go through the material gathered and assess which could work as a painting. I sketch from the photographs and work out tone, colour and composition. On canvas I paint a base colour to give depth to the painting and start to mix the colours desired. I try to stick to a few colours as I find it more effective as a work of art.
Strong Mediterranean light needs deep shadows in ultramarine and burnt sienna. Azure sea sparkles with vanilla sunlight and terracotta buildings contrast with a cerulean blue sky.
If the weather lets you down, there is still art to be done. I am working on a piece called Monaco in the rain, a view of the old town and a figure reflected in the wet pavement.
We also visited Saint Paul de Vence, one of the famous Perched Villages in the hills behind Nice. Cobbled streets and narrow alleyways lined with bright window boxes and artisan shops offer great painting subjects. Often the street views open up to the dramatic vista below, with deep green trees fading into the blue hills beyond dotted with white and terracotta villages.
Having built up my collection of sketches, photographs and colour studies I returned home, refreshed and ready for work!