Wendy Simmons Local Artist Interview
I started my art business during lockdown, usually I run a home beauty salon but unfortunately, I had to close it down because of the Covid-19 restrictions. I’ve always had a love of art and did well at school, but I never carried it on as I started doing hair and beauty at College when I was 16. There wasn’t enough time to fit it in doing A level art as well. So that was that. I dabbled from time to time, but never really had a true incentive to take it seriously, until summer 2019.
I decided to go looking for some poppy fields that I’d heard about on Burlish Top near Bewdley during the summer holidays. I took our three sons and took lots of pictures of the poppy meadows and the boys. On our return I decided to paint a one metre by one metre canvas of the boys in the poppy fields. I had a lot of positive feedback from my family, friends and clients and it was that that fuelled my desire to start painting again.
I did a little bit here and there; some of my clients purchased some prints of my work but it was the lockdown that gave me the time to really spend working on my technique and my skill with pastels. Pastels are my favourite medium to use, although I’ve started doing a landscape diploma with the London art college and using acrylic. I also follow an American Pastel artist called Karen Margulis, I like her style, techniques and ways of teaching.
What I enjoy and hope to continue to enjoy, once my beauty business resumes, is the distraction it’s given me during a lockdown, it has given me a different focus and an incentive to get out and look for local landscapes that I know are nostalgic and uplifting for other people. The poppies at Burlish Top, BlueBells at Trench Woods (near Dunhampstead) and even the Malvern Hills have all proven popular with locals. I’m inspired to go outside and paint more.
Three words that describe me I find quite a challenge. However, words that have been used to describe my artwork have been uplifting, bright and bold. I guess there’s a narrative in that, that must reflect how I try to be. By nature of being a Beauty Therapist, I do like to help and relax people, or make them feel better.
My unique selling point is my impressionistic and evocative style. I try to keep as loose as I can when painting a landscape or floral studies, capturing light and colour in bold pastel strokes. I’m not necessarily looking for the detail because I want the viewer to look for the detail themselves and take their own journey through the landscape or searching around the edges of floral designs. Hopefully giving the viewer time to reflect and relax as they investigate the picture.
I don’t have a favourite restaurant. But I do have a favourite take away which I have frequented for twenty years and that’s the Peacock Chinese Takeaway at the top of the High Street in Droitwich. My favourite shop is Hobby Craft or local art shops. These shops are like an Aladdin’s cave, which is not great when you’re having to watch the purse strings!
I’ve been busy during lockdown and have joined Zazzle as a designer, It’s a ‘print on demand’ merchandise site, where artists can transfer their work to all kind of products – from bags to T-Shirts. Designs I’ve added so far are poppies, sunflowers and local landscapes on cards.
It is on Zazzle that I have a collection called Blue Poppy – NHS Charity Collection, where all the profits go to NHS Charities Together. I wanted to do my bit to help support NHS Frontline Workers so I created a piece called Heroes’. It’s a study of the blue Himalayan Poppy, a notoriously difficult flower to grow. The blue poppy has become a symbol of support for our NHS Frontline workers. I kept my usual style for this close up and subtly added a background of rainbow colours. Another symbolic goodwill gesture for all our frontline workers far and wide.
What motivates me, apart from the sunshine, is seeing people’s faces when they positively react to piece of my artwork or give great feedback on how it makes them feel. I am a natural people-pleaser. I’m a beauty therapist and we can’t help but want to look after and care for others. That’s the nature of us. So, with not being able to do that during lockdown, art has been fulfilling alternative, with which I will carry on.
My biggest achievement to date, apart from our three sons and how proud they make us, is becoming self-employed. I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years now with my beauty business. It’s offered me a lot of freedom and to get to know many amazing people and building long lasting friendships with some. For the art, I have also been commissioned for several pieces of landscape work as well as selling some of my lock down pieces. That has been a massive achievement for me as it helps to build up my confidence with my artwork and share it further.
Shop her artwork today here!