I've always been an arty type - as a child I'd spend hours colouring in, creating things from Pritt Stick and cereal packets (as my dad would say, "doing a glueing") and drawing on whatever I could find. I'm famed in the West Family for my home-made shoes - desperate for my first pair of heels (I started early), I would cut feet shapes from cardboard, make some pretty straps and sellotape a piece of wood from my Grandad's joinery workshop on the bottom for a heel. Imagine the tears when I set off to walk and they ripped apart on the first step!
Following a love of art at school, I later studied Fine Art at college, where I veered towards a more realist style - being a perfectionist, I would strive for perfect copies of existing works, feeling a sense of accomplishment at copying somebody else's imagination.
What then happened when, 14 years later, I finally put paint back to paper as I began the West by Design journey (not that I knew it, at the time)? Out of the art game and using materials that officially had more dust on them than I care to admit, I felt extremely rusty, and a little hesitant to commit the first splurge of colour onto the white paper. I remember holding my paintbrush above the paper for about ten seconds before I made myself commit - that was the very beginning of West by Design.
The first thing I painted was a pheasant - the little (and awkward looking) predecessor to the pheasant featured on the Mitch paper currently. His eyes were good, and his feet looked okay, and I'd captured the colour palette, although his body looked a little off. From there came pheasant number two, and the rest is history. I'd spend the wet, wintery evenings painting, and reconciled myself to my imperfect style, as I felt the characters of the animals come through.
I had a small collection of fossils that I'd picked up at the beach and whilst learning to dry-stone-wall. I was compelled to paint their rhythmic shapes and capture their texture. My lack of materials in the early days led me to experiment - the Stonegrave print was created using a very out of date woodwork paint which was thick like glue, in desperation for a clean white! It gave the prints a fab texture and depth. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!
I tend to sketch a light outline of my painting first - just a basic shape from which to work. I don't think too much about where to start with the paint - I'll generally just create some depth and shaping with a base coat, then begin the detail on top. there's no rhyme or reason to how I paint - I'll flit between paws and eyes and fur and feathers, working in an ad-hoc way until it begins to come together.
I'm really looking forward to developing the next group of designs. Im feeling inspired by warm autumn palettes and summer pastel shades all at once. I'm sure there'll be the same feeling of trepidation before I start!
Kim - West by Design x