MEET THE ARTIST: Carole Baker RBSA
Inspired by the landscape, bold, vibrant colour and texture fascinate me and I strive to create exciting and evocative paintings. I paint in acrylics and mixed media. Always looking for new ways to work, I believe this is a great cure for boredom and allows me to be more expressive. On my travels, I sketch prolifically and get tremendous inspiration from painting all over the UK and abroad. I gather enough information to develop a series of paintings both in terms of detail and colour. However, I see the use of sketches and photographs taken on location as a starting point only… tending to paint the way I feel about the subject as opposed to copying literally, giving me the chance to put my personal stamp on the subject.
What is your background and where are you from?
I was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire where I lived most of my life. I now reside in Weston Heath in Shropshire. Having painted all my life as a hobby, being an artist for a living was a dream. I never thought for one minute I was good enough or could possibly make enough money to live. I started a recreational course in watercolours at Lichfield School of Art in 1999 and began to learn and experiment with lots of different techniques. My tutor saw some potential and encouraged me to start exhibiting and so I became a friend of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. I entered paintings into all of the friends and open exhibitions and most of the time they were selected. I also found a small space in Lichfield that I could hire and put on solo shows. And my work started to sell. Not for very much money, it was pocket money; it bought my materials. But I was able to go to college for one day a week whilst I ran my design and marketing business, which I had started in 1990. I approached a few galleries and asked if they’d take my work and they did. So my ‘wings’ were beginning to spread. Then in 2004 I entered a ‘New Artist’ competition sponsored by the NEC Autumn Fair and a national publisher. I was selected as one of the 10 finalists and my prize was a stand at the Autumn Fair that year. I gained a publishing contract and I had a queue of gallery managers waiting to talk to me. In 2007 I bit the bullet; I worked out my finances and decided to paint full time. It’s my passion, I absolutely love to paint and I knew that if I could just make enough money to pay my bills, I would be happy. I am now a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. I became a friend in 2000, an Associate Member in 2003 and was nominated as an Elected Member in 2008. The RBSA is one of the oldest art societies in the country – founded in 1807 and I consider it a great honour to be a member of such a prestigious and well established organisation.
Has having a background in design and marketing helped your art career?
It has helped massively. Being an artist sadly isn’t just about heading to the studio each day to paint. In addition to painting every day are the mundane but crucial jobs like maintaining my website, social media, monthly/yearly accounts, advertising and marketing, general administration and getting to and from art fairs and selling.
Where is your studio-gallery, what’s it like and do you have any rituals?
I moved to a house in Weston Heath in Shropshire in 2014 and had a large studio built overlooking the rolling Shropshire countryside. It is a brick built structure with large windows and opening on doors on three sides plus skylights. It is north facing and it is my absolute haven!! On a normal day, I head out there around 8am and light the wood burner when it is cold… that is the first thing I do, even though it is very well insulated, I like to be cosy. People visit from all over the country to my open weekends and exhibitions; visitors arrive and enjoy the incredible views we have and sometimes take hours browsing. Some have even been known to get comfy in front of the wood burner and make themselves cups of tea! My Studio is also where I run a packed programmed of workshops for beginners through to exhibiting artists for small groups of 6 people. Again people come from all over the UK and abroad to paint with me.
How do you classify your paintings and what medium do you use?
I would say my work is impressionistic. Inspired by the landscape, bold, vibrant colour and texture fascinate me and I strive to create exciting and evocative paintings. My work is inspired by places I travel and work on location with a sketchbook painting en plein air, getting a real feel for the place so that my paintings are an emotional response, not a literal copy. I work in watercolour, mixed media and acrylic. Most of my exhibiting / finished work is acrylic, sometimes large pieces on box canvas. Most of my watercolour work is found in my many sketchbooks that I use as source material for future projects.
What challenges have you faced in the art world?
The challenges I have faced and still do to some small degree, is accepting rejection… not feeling like you’re good enough, being turned down for exhibitions or struggling to sell work. But it is something that you accept over time, pick yourself up and keep going and keep the faith – know that if you believe in yourself, you are determined and have a fire in your belly – you will succeed!
What is the main message of your work, what does it aim to say?
My paintings are an emotional response to the places I visit and paint. I don’t aim to make a visual journal but to capture the essence of a place so that my paintings draw the viewer in and that they see something different each time they look.
Is there a common reaction to your work?
Yes! ‘I just love your colours’ is the comment I hear the most! Colour is an important factor in my work – I always work with a limited palette which helps to harmonize the painting.
Who would you say are your favourite contemporary artists living today?
Kurt Jackson has been a huge inspiration to me from ever since I can remember. John Lowry Morrison, Francis Boag, Ken Howard, David Tress, and my good friend Haidee-Jo Summers.
How have you developed since you first started exhibiting your paintings?
My ‘style’ has evolved over time and continues to do so. I have found that influences come along and they might affect the way I make marks; certainly subject matter has a huge influence on the feel of a body of work. Part of my creative process involves lots of preliminary work before I start a canvas – explore all sorts of ideas and techniques and I am forever finding new ways of working through this process.
What have you got planned for our next event at Goodwood?
I have two new collections: ‘Magical Venice’ inspired by my first ever visit in 2019. I am really excited about this collection – I am thoroughly enjoying using my location sketches and photographs for this brand new subject matter to me. The second collection is called ‘My Life in Colour’ – exploring the effects of light on the landscape and experimenting with colour.