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Our Feature Artist for Feb is Zoë Day

Zoe is a very talented artist who has honed her craft virtually since she was able to hold a paintbrush. Her story is a great example of how a natural ability can benefit from encouragement to bring personal work satisfaction as well as pleasure to the people who view her work.

Zoë describes herself as a portrait artist. She works mainly to commission in her beautiful studios that she shares with fellow artist Debs Last on the edge of Stowe landscaped gardens.

Her artistic ability was discovered when she was very young and she won her first painting competition at the age of five. Her biggest influence was her grandmother who was a talented oil painter (Elizabeth Childs) and the many paintings on her walls were a true inspiration. Her grandmother would always buy her new & interesting art materials and teach her how to use them, many of which she still has today. At the age of nine on a trip to Florence with the family Zoë visited the Uffizi and so it became her dream to create portraits like the students that sit outside the famous gallery drawing the tourists. Determined to achieve this she has followed her dream by spending years copying old masters and then studying with the artists she has most admired Including BP portrait award winner Alan Ramsey, Toby Wright of the Florence Academy and Dr Sarah Simbet at the Ruskin. Zoë draws from a live model at least twice a week to keep her skills finely tuned.

She is currently working on a series of expressive self-portraits based around fairy stories. Each painting is loosely based around a character and has been carefully worked out to capture a moment in time. Whilst the planning and preparation of the painting takes many weeks, in order to express the spontaneity of the work, they are often painted in one intense session of up to 10 hours. No breaks, no sound, no food, just pure passionate painting (probably not good for one’s health) but that’s just how it is. Each is open to interpretation, which is the artists intention – that is for the viewer to make their own personal connection often relating to their own journey in life.

When you come across a portrait, whether in a gallery or someone’s home, there is an undeniable presence. People are drawn to it because it tells a story, both about the subject and the artist.  The fact that we are able to view portraits from centuries ago is a testament to the institution of the craft of portraiture and an excellent reason as to why one should consider investing in a commission.

As an artist educated in the classical tradition Zoe loves to work from life, drawing or painting from a model. She has discovered through years of practice that whilst this is a wonderful thing to do, most people do not have time to sit for many hours. To create a beautiful painting that captures the essence of a sitter’s personality, they often need to be smiling which is nearly impossible to paint from life. Just try and hold a genuine smile for more than 10 minutes!  This is why she uses a combination of working from photographs she has taken and a short sitting to create a stunning portrait that will be admired for generations to come.

A combination of Old Holland and Michael Harding oil paints are used on Italian linen. Pastels and drawings on tinted paper are also offered.  The finest glazes and mediums are applied to ensure your painting will stand the test of time.

If you are interested in having a portrait painted, it is best to allow eight weeks although they can sometimes be prioritised if needed for that special occasion. Pastels and drawings can be done more quickly. Prices start from £260. Please see Zoe’s website for more details.