Artist Of The Month: Angela Hennessy

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Nov 02, 2017 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Gorgeous colors, rich with the natural beauty of our earth. A keen eye, to see birds, waves, sunsets, and the talent to be able to capture it perfectly. A respite from today's busy digital world, where I can sit, breathe, and imagine. Those reasons - and more - are why I follow Angela Hennessy, our Artist of the Month, on Instagram and other social media platforms. Her art is beautiful, keen, sharp, and evocative. Even if I'm sitting inside during a Michigan snowstorm, I feel as if, even for a minute, that I am somewhere else in the world, with her and the creatures she so lovingly paints. I'm very happy to share Angela's work this month - take a look. Soon, I imagine, you'll be taking time to revisit nature through her eyes and art. 

Artist Angela Hennessy

How long have you been an artist?
I’ve drawn, doodled and crafted since being little.

My Mum and Dad are creative, and always had some kind of craft project on the go, gardening, fixing, or mending. As children, my brothers and I were encouraged to make things, grow things, and take things apart.

As a young girl, I became interested in art, and loved watching art and nature programmes on the TV; we had the wonderful Tony Hart here in the UK, and the magical Jacques Cousteau. I remember spending hours copying drawings of animals from a huge Atlas of Animals of the World, and loved art materials and stationery.

My journey to my current art practice has taken quite a few detours, though, from originally being a linguist, to a florist creating displays for corporate clients in London and Leeds, a library assistant, a seamstress creating bespoke baby slings, and a mother.

Fall doe. Artist Angela Hennessy
I still enjoy drawing animals

Is art your full-time career?
That’s the plan. I have three children, and currently juggle my illustration and artwork with their needs. I’m hoping that, as they become more independent, I can can turn illustration into a full time career. 

Climbing Whernside with my three daughters. Artist Angela Hennessy
Climbing Whernside with my three daughters

Where do you work? How long have you been there?
I live just outside of Leeds, West Yorkshire in the UK, and we’ve lived here for 12 years. I’m originally from Hull in East Yorkshire, but have also lived in London. I love that where we live, we are only one hour away from three national parks, and only one hour from the coast. We make an effort to take a long walk every month with the kids out in the hills, moors, or by the shore. We also live very close to two very special wetland nature reserves, that we can easily walk, cycle, or run to. I love having the city a train ride away, and nature on our doorstep.

Illustrated Map of a camping trip to the East Yorkshire coast. Artist Angela Hennessy
Illustrated Map of a camping trip to the East Yorkshire coast

Being close to nature is very important for me, something I only realized after living in London.
 
Canada geese fly regularly over our house to our local nature reserve. Artist Angela Hennessy
Canada geese fly regularly over our house to our local nature reserve

Do you have a favorite place you like to create?
I do most of my painting from my studio desk. I have everything I need at hand. It’s quiet during the day with the kids at school, so I can get straight on and make the most of my time - especially as I can leave everything out and pick up where I left off.

But my inspiration and ideas come from being outdoors and in nature; since January this year I’ve been doing a lot more painting and sketching on location, which has been a wonderful journey and experience. 

“Summer In Yorkshire’ print inspired by walking and sketching outside. Artist Angela Hennessy
“Summer In Yorkshire’ print inspired by walking and sketching outside

What does your typical day look like? Is there a typical day?
I try and keep to a routine, otherwise I end up procrastinating and faffing around. Having my studio in the house, it’s easy to end up being distracted by jobs in the house instead of work. 

I drop my kids off at school, and go for a run most mornings. I find I am much more productive after running.

It’s a great way of clearing my head before I get on with my day, it can be hectic with three children running around in a morning.

Being outside, the smell, the air, the birds, helps me refocus. It also feeds my work, as I document the change in seasons and things I’ve seen in my nature journal.

Oak leaves painted as part of my Nature Journal. Artist Angela Hennessy
Oak leaves painted as part of my Nature Journal

Once I’m at my desk, with my first coffee of the day, I always make a list of the things I’d like to get done that day; this again helps to keep me from procrastinating.

After that, I generally do most of my painting in the morning, as the light is better in my studio and I can get lost in painting for hours. After lunch I do any computer, digital or written work. I’ve been making a concerted effort to improve my digital, computing skills recently.

‘Spring In Yorkshire’ prints. Artist Angela Hennessy
‘Spring In Yorkshire’ prints

For me, keeping regular hours helps me focus, and be more productive.

What materials do you prefer?
Watercolours are my favorite medium at the moment, I love how luminous and bright the colours appear. They’re particularly good for depicting natural scenes, and work well on my illustrated maps, and bird paintings.

Pheasant and grouse paintings which will become part of my ‘Autumn In Yorkshire’ print
Pheasant and grouse paintings which will become part of my ‘Autumn In Yorkshire’ print

I also love how portable watercolours are, and have been experimenting with creating my own mini watercolour tins (sketch kits) to make sketching while hiking and running much easier (something I’m going to explore further). It’s amazing how little you need to create paintings on the go whilst travelling.

Mini sketch kit for painting outdoors. Artist Angela Hennessy
Mini sketch kit for painting outdoors.

In terms of brands, I currently use Windsor & Newton artist pan watercolours, but I’m also trying out Daniel Smith tubes and Schminke pans as I run out of colours. I’m always open to trying something new. I use Windsor & Newton Artists Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed 300gsm for my illustrated maps, but for my nature journal I use WHSmith Watercolour Paper also 300gsm (this is a UK high st brand, but the paper quality is very good). My favourite sketchbooks are Moleskine Watercolour books; I use a large size generally, but also love my mini one for quick discreet sketches.

My favourite pens are Sakura Pigma Micron fineliners; they’re waterproof and can be painted over straight away. I’ve recently been trying out a Lamy Safari fountain pen with Noodlers waterproof ink; I’m really enjoying using this in my sketchbook as it’s very loose and flowing and can also be painted over once it’s dry.

When I’m not painting with watercolours, I love marker pens for more graphic work. My work on Historical and Contemporary adventurers are all done in marker pen; they have a similar quality to watercolours in that you can layer colours on top of each other.

Portrait of Adventurer Gertrude Bell, used as a T-shirt design for Trowelblazers. Artist Angela Hennessy
Portrait of Adventurer Gertrude Bell, used as a T-shirt design for Trowelblazers

Where/How are you inspired?
My passion is for the outdoors, nature, and exploring.

My work takes inspiration from walking, running, and cycling in the great outdoors, and all that encompasses: maps, flora, fauna, and weather. My own journeys, adventures, and those of others. Being on the top of a mountain, on a barren moorland, under the cover of woodland, by the sea, or just on my morning run around where I live. Nature inspires me to make art.

Postcard set inspired by the little treasures left in our pockets after walking in Autumn. Artist Angela Hennessy
Postcard set inspired by the little treasures left in our pockets after walking in Autumn

I hope that my own illustrated journeys inspire others to get outside and enjoy the change in seasons, and to look for the those changes all year round. I would also like my work to inspire others to go and see these wonderful, accessible places around Yorkshire that we are so lucky to have. I’m interested in the conservation of our land and it’s animals too, and intend to incorporate that further into my work in the future, in the hope that by being outside and in nature more, it will inspire others to care and respect those places.

Illustrated map of a slow travel journey into Bronte country, Haworth, West Yorkshire. Artist Angela Hennessy
Illustrated map of a slow travel journey into Bronte country, Haworth, West Yorkshire

I’m also inspired by other people’s adventures, and my reading has a massive influence on my work. I enjoy creating illustrated maps and portraits of and for adventurers, past and present, such as the Middle East explorer and diplomat Gertrude Bell, or ultra runners like Sean Conway, and Elise Downing. 

Portrait of Elise Downing, adventure runner. Artist Angela Hennessy
Portrait of Elise Downing, adventure runner

Reading and following amazing journeys particularly of women like Sarah Williams who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 100 days inspire my work and daily life.

Illustrated map of Sarah Williams (of Tough Girl Challenges) 100 day hike of the Appalachian Trail. Artist Angela Hennessy
Illustrated map of Sarah Williams' (of Tough Girl Challenges) 100 day hike of the Appalachian Trail.

How do you know when your piece is done?
Drawing for me is intuitive. When creating my illustrated maps and journeys, I make a draft plan, choosing which elements of the journey I’ll use and where they will be placed on the finished piece. But that often changes organically as the piece grows, and I have a sense that I’ve added enough detail to portray the journey I’m trying to capture. 

Illustrated walk around Gouthwaite Reservoir, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire
Illustrated walk around Gouthwaite Reservoir, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire

It’s something that I’m still learning with painting. Leaving a piece and returning to it, rather than carrying on. I’ve learnt a lot of patience through using watercolour, laying down a layer and then waiting for it to dry before adding more paint. The only way to learn is buy practising, and trying out different techniques.

Do you work on one or more pieces at a time?
I have different projects and pieces on the go at the same time. My current collection of prints ‘Seasons In Yorkshire’ are based on an ongoing nature journal. In turn, my nature journal feeds into my own illustrated maps.

A selection of my recent nature journal pages. Artist Angela Hennessy
A selection of my recent nature journal pages

The nature of following another person's journey, like the illustrated map I made for Sarah Williams, means that it is ongoing, following the progress of the journey, so I put that to one side and carry on with my other pieces. I love the variety of having different projects, inspired by my interests to work on. Although I have wide interests, I think they work well together. From a small piece that will take a few hours to finish, to a piece that may take some months.

If you were not an artist, what would you do?
Now that’s a difficult one to pin down, as there is so much out there to learn and see. I am a constant learner, and I have wide reaching interests. I’d be an author, an archeologist, an art historian, a conservationist, and a whole host of other interesting jobs. How wonderful would it be to incorporate all these other interests and possibilities into my artwork?

How can our readers find and purchase your art?
I have an Etsy shop seling my nature inspired prints and custom illustrations

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Raspberrythief

You can follow my journeys around Yorkshire, portfolio, and blog at

http://raspberrythief.wordpress.com

And follow me on Instagram and Facebook @raspberrythief

Would you like to share anything else with us?
I’d really like to encourage everyone to take a walk outside regularly, to walk slowly, and look, breathe in the air. Notice the changes that take place over a series of months.. Take a seat with your sketchbook and pencil and sit for a while drawing what you see in front of you. I’ve found through sketching outside it’s improved my memory and appreciation of places that we have visited. We have such busy lives, we forget how much we need to pause and appreciate what we have in our lives and around us.

Sunset from Mynydd Mawr, Llyn Peninsula, Wales. Artist Angela Hennessy
Sunset from Mynydd Mawr, Llyn Peninsula, Wales

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Angela Hennessy

 

 

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