Gemma Bell (Gemma’s Art Studio)

Suffolk, UK

Type of artwork you're most likely to produce?

Something colourful, bold and modern.

What is your favourite piece of art you have created?

A stormy sky and field piece that I actually kept for myself - it hangs above the kitchen table and looks brilliant in the sunlight.

If you weren't an artist what other career would you be in?

I also work in a vets as a receptionist which I love, however I have always been interested in homes so I’d love to be a home stylist or stager.

If you could buy one piece of artwork what would it be?

Oh, how can I choose? There are so many pieces from so many artists that I love!

What inspires you?

Everything around me! I love being outdoors so am always scanning my surroundings for the next painting idea. Colour is a huge inspiration as well as interior home decor.

Delving a little deeper

Why do you do what you do?

I absolutely adore painting. It’s never been something I can leave alone. There have been times where I haven’t been lucky enough to have a studio space but I always managed to find a little space crammed on the edge of a table! It’s something I am naturally drawn to, ever since I was much younger, through all of my schools and beyond. Painting is just a huge part of who I am - it’s my identity.

Can you tell us about your artistic background/education

Overall I would say I am very much self taught. I followed the artistic subjects from GCSE all the way through to university but always did more in my spare time.

It was during my A-Levels that I found my love for Acrylics and since then my skill has grown. In university, I took a little detour and took a Textile degree.

I have always loved the idea of my work being on household furnishings (as I’ve said before interiors and home decor are something I have a love for). The course was a brilliant learning experience and for my final project, I actually took to hand painting fabrics, treating it very much like my canvas paintings.

Since graduating with a First I’ve never found ‘the job’ for me. I know now, after a few more years, that it is because my ideal job isn’t one that is out there, advertised. It is within me - I am the only one who can create it; it is me creating and selling my own artworks.

Do you work in silence or do you prefer a distraction?

I rarely work in silence. In fact, when I am having a bit of a head block I find turning the music up really helps.

I begin singing along to my favourite songs and think less about what I am actually doing. That sounds a bit mad but when I start overthinking my paintings I get stuck.

For me, I find painting flows and feels better when being done more with my subconscious, naturally allowing my hands to take over and guide what I do.

I usually have Spotify on; Sometimes a Podcast but my current top play list tends to be The Lumineers!

Me and my husband also have a couple of mixed playlists that really help. One is quite relaxing (our wedding playlist) and the other is more upbeat with what we class as ‘tunes’!

How do you choose the subject matter for your works?

I am a very visual person so all of my paintings tend to be based on visible subjects around me, rather than topics or songs.

My main inspiration is the landscape. I live in the countryside and adore the coast so both feature heavily in my work, whether it’s the scene itself or the wildlife within it.

Me and my husband are very much outdoor people; we cycle to work, camp and walk our dog. I am always stopping to take photographs. In fact, when I drive I am terrible for looking out at the surroundings wishing I’d chosen to be in the passengers seat as I just need to capture ‘that scene right there’!

When I look around I can almost visualise my paintings and what I could create. I am also very inspired by colour.

My artwork is very colourful and bold but this does not always come from the landscape - it’s something that comes to me almost naturally. I feel a lot of my colour influence comes from my Instagram and Pinterest accounts - whether it is colour combo’s in people’s homes or how hand made pottery has been painted, or maybe from a jazzy earring!

I am always looking at colours and patterns which I think feeds into my subconscious and out into my paintings. It brings a lot of fun into what I do.

Has your practice changed over time?

I feel my practice hasn’t changed much over time. What I do really started during my A-Levels with the help of my brilliant art teachers.

From there I went to college and began to use screen printing. This printing technique continued through to University where I began experimenting with digital and eventually free hand screen printing.

I think all the way through these different techniques I always had a sketchbook going which had many paintings and then inspired the prints. I now solely use acrylics and canvas/paper - it’s definitely where my heart lies. I remember once in college I was struggling with screen printing and said ‘I just want to paint!’ to which my classmate said ‘Well why don’t you then?’.

I do dabble in photography but this only really feeds my paintings.

Who are your favourite contemporary or historical artists and why?

Starting with my favourite historical artist in school, I always studied Monet - his use of mark-making and impressionist feel is always something I’ve been drawn to. I’m not particularly interested in creating something like for like, at photograph quality.

It is an amazing skill but I love to see artists unique and individual language, almost like handwriting, just from looking at a piece it has their personality stamped all over it.

During my school years, I also looked at more contemporary artists like Kurt Jackson and Paul Evans amongst many others. Paul Evans is a local artist to me, also inspired by his local landscapes. Currently, with the wonderful aid of Instagram and Pinterest, there are numerous brilliant artists that I love keeping up to date with.

If you could describe your work in less than 5 words, what would they be?

Spirited, Fun, Modern, Authentic, Vibrant

What is the best advice given to you as an artist?

I saw this recently - ‘What if something wonderful happens?’ - Just go for it!