We are very lucky here in Suffolk to be surrounded by, arguably, some of the most varied and incredible countryside in the UK. When you think of Suffolk countryside, you picture rolling fields, beautiful cottages, stunning woodland and frolicking wildlife. Lucy Grossman, Surreyborn artist, captures the fairytale-esque beauty of our magical county on canvas and paper with a paintbrush from her garden studio.
Lucy has lived all around the UK but decided to settle down finally in Suffolk. She was brought up in Farnham, then later on the west coast of Wales. Although drawing has interested Lucy since she was young, it was here that she began teaching herself art and illustration at the age of 18. She began selling pieces in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and illustrating for books and local businesses, and things just grew from there.
Having been offered a job running a gallery and teaching at a private art school, Lucy moved to Devon. Here she spent two years tutoring and also had a chance to work on and exhibit her own work. ‘I then moved to London after an art editor saw my work featured in Country Living magazine. I was offered a position as illustrator for a large greetings card design company where I stayed for nine years, progressing to editor and to assistant art director.’ This experience really allowed Lucy to stretch her creative legs, make contacts, meet fellow artists and writers and gave her a good grounding in a business sense.
It wasn’t until 2003 that Lucy decided living in the city wasn’t for her and made the move back to her country roots. She decided to settle down in Suffolk to become a full time freelance illustrator and artist: ‘all my family originally come from around the area, and I was about to have a baby. I wanted him to be brought up in beautiful countryside surroundings with fresh air. The city isn’t far away, so meetings in London were no trouble and I love the buzz of the city too.’
Lucy now lives in rural Suffolk, in the quintessential village of Glemsford. She lives in a beautiful 15th Century chocolate box pink thatched cottage – thought to be the oldest in the village – and doesn’t need to travel far to visit her workshop. Lucy paints from her own studio at the bottom of her oasis-like garden. Lucy says that the move to Suffolk really pointed her work in the right direction – she loves being surrounded by nature and painting wildlife and the countryside. She set up her own website so she was still able to connect with people throughout the UK and started exhibiting her work with local galleries.
It is the beauty of the surrounding rural landscapes that influences Lucy’s work: ‘I walk a huge amount which is where I collect a lot of my information – gathering sketches, getting the feel of a place, noting the changing seasons and weather conditions on everything.’ Lucy speaks of how she pays careful attention on her walks and makes a note of everything that catches her eye – from wildflowers blowing in the breeze to birds singing – and these become the ingredients for each painting.
‘Each day the light is different; the smallest thing like a hedge full of goldfinches I see on my walk could be the next painting I do when I return to my studio.’ Paintings by Lucy really display a new perspective and capture the charm of the Suffolk countryside, bringing it to life on the page.
The great thing about being freelance? No two days are the same. Sometimes Lucy will be illustrating for a book or designing cards, then the next day she can be creating new work for a gallery or working on a private commission. ‘What I do is quite varied, there is never a dull moment! I usually try to walk in the mornings or drive to special locations to gather inspiration for paintings, and the fresh air helps me to feel invigorated and inspired!
‘Sometimes I will be visiting a private commission client to talk about ideas, take reference and build up sketches for their painting.’ At the moment Lucy is working on a very detailed full colour picture book about all different types of gardens for children. ‘Jobs like this can take up quite a lot of time but I always like to carry on creating pieces to be exhibited at the gallery and I illustrate for cards too. I produce my own fine art prints which I sell on my website and in the gallery too, and I like to keep these fresh and topped up.’ She also produces private commissions for individual clients.
Though she loves to paint birds, wild animals and old cottages, Lucy’s got many places in Suffolk that inspire her and her paintings: ‘the lanes, walks and fields directly from my door still remain some of my favourite places but I also love Ickworth park, Aldeburgh, and surrounding countryside and woodlands.’ Lucy’s acute sense of awareness of her surroundings really translates into her work and makes her work come alive.
Lucy’s favourite painting to date? One that she finished just last week of a barn owl flying through a wintery wood, called Angel Owl. ‘I particularly love owls and this one was inspired by a huge barn owl flying right up in front of me and for a moment, it looked like an angel.’ Beautiful wintery scenes, bare branches and fading light are also favourites, but Lucy is careful to never get complacent about her work. She works hard at finding new ways of doing things, and introducing new techniques to really keep her work fresh, but still fitting within her soft, illustrative style.
So what does the future hold for Lucy? She’ll be keeping Lion House Gallery stocked up with fresh new paintings throughout the year. ‘Around February time I am bringing out ten new prints for my website (Bluebell Wood, Angel Owl, Midnight Garden and Meadow Flowers are among them) and they will also be available in the gallery. At the moment, I’m busy illustrating my children’s book on gardens and this will take me well into 2016 and I plan to do more nature and wildlife illustration like this in the future.’ Lucy will also be working on a collection of snowy winter wildlife paintings to exhibit in autumn/winter 2016 so keep your eyes peeled for these.
You can explore the whole collection of prints and paintings on Lucy’s website, www.heart-to-art.com – she has limited edition prints and original paintings available to purchase, and she also exhibits at Lion House Gallery, 12 High Street, Lavenham, Suffolk CO10 9PR, where you can view the paintings in person. Or contact Lucy directly on email@example.com.