Nel Whatmore Biography
After studying for a Foundation Course in Art and Design at Wolver Hampton University, I then went on to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds, from 1982-1985. Shortly afterwards, in 1986, I was awarded a grant from the ‘Princes Youth Business Trust’ and was one of the few people chosen to represent the ‘Princes Youth Business Trust’ at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1990. Although I have been a professional artist since 1986, I was probably first aware of having talent when I was just 10 years old. While my family is not obviously artistic, there are a few notable exceptions. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and those that are very skilled with their hands.
My exhibitions have taken place at the Albert Docks in Liverpool, Chelsea Flower Show and numerous ‘Princes Youth Business Trust’ shows at the NEC in Birmingham. As well as this I have also held my own one-woman show for over 12 years. This major exhibition was held, for the first time in 2001, at the Halcyon Gallery in Birmingham and was a resounding success. My work is now sold widely both in the UK and in America, as well as other countries, in the form of limited editions.
The love I have for what I do and the person that I am creates a continual need in me to explore my talent to its limits. Inspiration comes from things large and small, from feelings deep inside, to fleeting glimpses of colours, the world around me and the mediums that I use. The fun of it for me, is in the music that I play while painting that focuses the mind, and the striving to get that picture in your head that stays forever out of reach. To sit back and pat yourself on the back means that you have arrived, so what’s the point of doing any more. Dissatisfaction it is not, just the knowledge that it could be better next time drives me on. I love music with a passion and cannot paint without it. I frequently dance while working and listen to very loud music. The links between music and painting are clear – both need movement, rhythm and emotion to really be of worth. I listen to a wide range of music letting different types suggest different subjects. I have very eclectic taste in music from soul to folk to dance and classical. The common thread is that it all moves me emotionally. Although I am well known for painting flowers, I change my subject matter regularly, depending on my mood and what inspires me at the time. I intrinsically like change and cannot just paint flowers or landscapes or whatever for a long period. The joy and inspiration comes from approaching a new subject with fresh eyes and an eager heart. Recently I have really found a new lease of life in abstract painting, an area I had previously not tackled. The response has been overwhelming, which is fantastic, as it is one of the greatest challenges to move someone with colour and shape alone, without the constraints of the figurative. Whatever the subject, much of my work is related to my family life which is extremely important, and consequently my work is almost like a diary of the year’s events. The beach and landscape scenes that I paint are all taken from places that I have visited, either with my family or on my own. They are very personal to me, and a very important part of my life. I also, however, enjoy capturing slices of other people’s lives, reflecting the changing world around us. Everything I do is from life.
I cannot say this is how I do it from A to Z, step by step. Because each subject determines what is needed; whether it’s an expansive landscape or a single flower. I have become used to using pastels and have explored the many ways to apply it, and the great variety of surfaces on which to work on. I now find myself drawn to oils, which is a whole new ball game. I always learn as I am physically drawing or painting. I do not read about it first and then have a go; I just do it and see what happens. Colour is a large part of my work and I am definitely drawn to certain colours depending on my frame of mind at the time.