In the Studio with Wendy Satchwell
Wendy Satchwell’s style and method is instantly recognisable, with paintings that resonate with the beauty and history of impressionism, yet they speak with the contemporary voice and structure of abstraction. Seeking inspiration from her natural surroundings and her own personal life experiences, the composition of her works are well considered; with colours and shapes meticulously planned out long before she actually starts painting.
She creates highly textured surfaces by layering oil, water-based paint, and mixed media and -although abstract-every brushstroke has its part to play in the tapestry of shimmering colour that conveys a sense of effervescent spirituality. She is a colour alchemist, using textures and shapes to present an almost ethereal depiction of light, colour and energy. The finishing touch sees a glass-like resin coating applied to the piece. This enhances the colour and the deliberate imperfections within the surface of her work, creating a brilliant finish.
Katia: How do you begin to select a colour palette when working on non-commissioned work?
Wendy: My love for colour is immense, and I very often call myself a bit off a colour-holic, as if I could I would love to eat the delicious, beautiful colours that I mix to paint with. I have another very strong love and passion as well as my art and that is for gardening and flowers. They are a massive influence in my work, not only for their beautiful form but for all their amazing colours. I very much use the philosophy that “Colour in Nature is Never Wrong"
Therefore, when it comes to a new collection off work choosing a colour palette/theme is never that difficult for me as there are always an abundance of new tones / schemes to work with. My garden is full of colour throughout every season and gives me new ideas.
K: When did you start introducing natural materials such as leaves, wood and pine cones into your work?
W: Texture has always been a highly important part in my art, all through art college as well as at university studying textiles and fine art. Being taught techniques to create different surfaces was always my most enjoyable part.
I am a very tactile person and love to feel the texture off things, whether it be an original painting, a fabric, the bark of a tree or simply just the smooth beautiful finish off natural stone and marble. I am continuously thinking about new textures as I strongly believe that though in many galleries it is forbidden to touch the artwork I want the viewer to see and touch what I paint. It is a huge compliment to me for the viewer to want to touch my artwork and feel those deliberate little imperfections within the surface of my work. Therefore, introducing organic features such as leaves, crushed metal foils and cold-water stones to introduce nature just adds that special touch and makes my work unique to me.
K: How do you find this extra material?
W : I am always looking for new organic matter to put in to my work, so it helps that I am a runner and whilst out keeping fit will very often stop to collect interesting leaves that have fallen from a tree or seed heads that have been blown from the fields. I am also very blessed to have my studio in the centre off a stunning park which is surrounded by woodland, plants, and flowers. Therefore a combination off the above and my garden is predominantly where I get my material from.
K: Are there any commissioned paintings which you have been especially proud of and why?
W: There are a couple that I can think off straight away, and I think that is because the people that I created them for are close to me. One is a gentleman that started off as a client at least 20 years ago now and over time has turned out to be a very close friend – he still collects my work and is continually changing his paintings around in his home, commissioning me at least two new pieces of work each year. He loves the process of collaborating on a brief and he will put paintings in storage for a while to enjoy the new ones. A trait of these kind of collectors is that their home is a fluid space to present artworks, changing throughout the year depending on the light of the season and their mood.
There was one piece which I painted for him a couple of years ago which I was especially proud off as the composition, colour palette and movement off the painting really leapt off the canvas and worked so beautifully with in his home, but equally it had that spiritual, loving connection to it too - the one you get with a friend who is so very dear to you and close.
The other piece was a surprise gift to a friend of mine this year who turned 50. I produced a very large beautiful piece for her kitchen introducing the gorgeous spring colours off her garden to bring the outside beauty in to her kitchen through the painting. The soft hues off lavender purples and olive greens all to compliment the natural colours of the space. Again, it was that close friendship bond for me that made it a special piece.
K: What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
W: No day is the same really for me, as there is always lots to do. I normally try to start the day with a bit of exercise - whether that be going for a run or the gym I try and do it in the morning.
Once I’ve fed my little fur children (I have two gorgeous tabby kittens, Mr Boo & Miss Shmoo), I leave for the studio which is about 15-minute drive away from my home.
I answer any correspondence and finish any admin first thing, before undertaking what I call ‘clean’ work which includes gilding (gold/silver leaf on canvas), resining and finishing off commissioned pieces. This is all done in the top section off my studio which is where I have an office, kitchen, small gallery, and space to finish off work, but in a clean non-dusty environment.
The afternoon is either spent prepping up for a new commission or painting which is all done in the downstairs section of the studio. Although my work can get very messy, I am very meticulous when it comes to being tidy and organised, so you could say it’s a bit of organised chaos. With paint swishing around my feet and wearing my gas mask to make sure I don't breathe in the fumes from the spray paints I’m in my absolute element.
K: Whilst you love Monet, Klimt and Rothko, do you find inspiration in other fields besides painting?
W: As well as gardening and nature which I have mentioned earlier I also find inspiration through interior design which involves a combination of different things from soft furnishings i.e. fabrics, beautiful wall coverings, paint finishes, sculpture and everything that goes into designing a cosy and warm home. I am always reading House & Garden, The World of Interiors, Home & Garden, Elle Decoration all the popular design magazines for Inspiration and ideas.
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