This summer we are welcoming new artist Alice Kellett to the Whistlefish family. The Nottingham-based artist has been holidaying in Cornwall since she was a child and loves to recall these fond and excited memories onto canvas.
Alice possesses a remarkable artistic ability to encapsulate the essence of cherished locations and transform them into stunning artworks. Her signature style employs a limited colour palette, resulting in truly distinctive paintings that evoke feelings of nostalgia and embrace a sense of warmth.
Having graduated from Loughborough University in 2006 with a degree in Fine Art, Alice has honed her skills further within the confines of her home studio in Nottingham. Her unwavering pursuit of perfection and meticulous attention to detail drives her to create artworks of the utmost quality.
Alice's work has garnered adoration from collectors worldwide, with her paintings finding homes in various corners of the globe. The widespread appreciation for her art is a testament to its universal appeal and enduring charm.
Can you talk us through your method of creating a piece of artwork?
The first step is deciding on a subject, this is usually a place of personal significance to me or a place which I have enjoyed visiting. I then search through my own collection of photos for an inspiring composition. If I haven’t quite got the angle I want then I will reference sections of photos online and draw up a rough composition. I then sketch this up onto my canvas.
Generally, I start to capture the skies first by creating a whitewash which I then build colour on top of and blend in so that it takes on a life of its own. I love working in acrylic because it forces you to move quickly. The next stage is blocking in the shades of grey in the foreground. I start with a large brush and gradually swap to smaller and smaller brushes as I add more and more detail. Finally, I work over the whole piece with a tiny brush adding black outlines to highlight the key aspects of the piece. This adds a nice playful element to finish each painting and really brings it to life.
How do you create the reflection effect in your art?
Since I work with acrylic that dries fairly quickly I have to be in deep concentration to bring this area to life before it dries and I can no longer rework it. I start with a thin white base layer, which I then add colour on top of. Next, I add mirrored shapes onto the water and use a large, flat brush to pull the paint across from side to side as if the reflection is gently moving in the same way that the water moves in the breeze.
Do you paint from a photo or memory?
I’m pulled to paint subjects that I have fond memories of which I can then find photos of to work from. It's important to me that the subject I am painting is accurate and recognisable and I feel the only way to achieve this is to closely reference photos of the subject.
What is an art tool you use that you cannot live without?
It would be my oval wash brush. This looks a little bit like a makeup brush. It is divinely soft and is the only way I can blend the sky to such perfection. I use it dry not wet and work it over the top of the paint I have already added and it magically softens the colours together to create a realistic sky or water expanse. It is always a special part of the process because I can’t be sure how it will turn out, but it is always quite magical.
What do you like to listen to when creating your art?
80% of the time I listen to playlists I’ve created of music that is uplifting and keeps me energised, for the remaining 20% of the time I will listen to a podcast that is either funny like 'Brew With The Bennetts' or is inspiring like Holly Tucker’s interviews with successful people from all walks of life.
What piece of your portfolio are you most proud of?
Most recently the painting of St Michael’s Mount was very satisfying to complete. The beautiful path that is revealed when the tide is out was quite a challenge to paint and was rather time-consuming so once I worked through it and got to the end it was a real achievement. The reflection of the castle on the hill in the water came out beautifully too, so I was extremely pleased with it. I think my favourite part is where the light from the sky is highlighted on the water in between the cobbles of the path. It's subtle, but it adds the twinkle that brings the piece to life.
Apart from black, white and grey, why do you only use pink and purple colours in your art?
I love working in monochrome with an accent colour but recently I have been captivated by what I can achieve with crimson and phthalo blue when combined with white. The beautiful pink and purple hues are divine so I have immersed myself in this colour scheme and am now on my eighth piece.
As I move beyond this current collection, I will look to incorporate different colours into my pieces. I just returned from a trip to Looe in Cornwall, and the bright blue sky has started a desire to capture that sense of joy one feels when the sky is bright blue in the morning and you just know it's going to be a good day. The combination of blue and fresh white clouds will be making an appearance in my work soon I feel.
How do you decide on the location you use for your landscape?
I choose places I have a personal connection to that evoke fond memories for me. I live in Nottingham, but we would holiday in Cornwall when I was a child and I have continued to visit regularly ever since. Even the memories of the six-hour drive down in the car with my family spark thoughts of joy as my two sisters, my brother and I would be squished in the back seat of the car bothering each other and laughing with the excitement and anticipation of going on holiday.
Do you have any fun/ interesting stories behind any of your pieces?
Holidaying in St. Ives is such a rich and artful place. I first set my desire and dream to become a professional artist in motion. When I was a full-time primary school teacher that desire never left me and the holiday visits there would remind me of the dream I once had. So now to know that my artworks will be available in Whistlefish Galleries in St Ives itself is truly a dream come true and it assures me that leaving my teaching career to pursue my art career was a wise move.
The pursuit of my art career has been made possible by the decision made by my husband and me to split the childcare roles and working roles between us. We literally split the weekdays in half, allowing one of us to work whilst the other looked after our young children. It’s an unconventional approach, but one that has worked really well for us, and we’d encourage anyone to question their working setup in the pursuit of finding a better balance in their life.