Lucy, otherwise known as Lu Cornish, is a wild heart who fell in love with the ocean at a young age. Growing up and living by the sea is something Lu never took for granted. She describes herself as a colour-loving misfit living by the sea, creating art from her anxious mind and free soul to bring colour to a world that too often seems grey. Lu Cornish's style is a marvellous example of contemporary feminist art.
SHOP FISTRAL, MAKE WAVES BY LU CORNISH - (Available in medium and large framed prints from £60)
Working from her little house on the Wild North Coast of Cornwall, Lu creates colourful and whimsical illustrations with a retro flare. Wild swimming, Cornish seascapes and female subjects feature very heavily in Lu’s work. She is inspired by her own mental health struggles and finding calm in her connection to nature. Exploring the wildness and beauty of women.
It is evident that Lu pours her heart and soul in to her work and is very much a visual storyteller.
Where does your artist name 'Lu Cornish' come from?
"When I first started sharing my work a mental health crisis. Cold water swimming and art became a vital part of my healing. However, I was nervous, I was drawing what was in my soul and it felt very exposing so l wanted to create some distance, to protect myself.
My given name is Lucy Ford, but I’m Lu (or Luce) to all my friends and family. Being Cornish is part of who I am, I have grown up here, it is the place I met my husband and got married and where I have chosen to raise my children. Lu Cornish is who I am at my core and for some reason, being Lu Cornish meant I wasn’t afraid to share parts of myself I was ashamed of for so long: She has given me a voice."
What mediums do you use to create your art?
"Generally, I sketch my ideas in a sketch book/ back of an envelope/ napkin/ anything I have to hand. I snap a picture on my iPad and use procreate to hone my illustrations. Everything is hand drawn using an apple pencil, there is no ai, no templates or predesigned elements. I then create any textures I think would suit the piece using a variety of media from pastels and paint to pens and pencils. I scan these textures in and combine them with my illustrations to create a finished piece. I do occasionally paint whole pieces using acrylic or gouache, but I love the freedom painting digitally has granted me. There is a real romance and accessibility to digital art that is often overlooked."
What do you think about when creating your art?
I never listen to music or podcasts. It’s just me and my thoughts. I first think of a story: the time and place, why my subject is there, what is she thinking and feeling. I am there, I am feeling the emotion I am trying to capture. I can almost feel the breeze in my hair or salt water lapping at my toes.
You seem to enjoy featuring females in the ocean, what inspires you to create this?
"I love women. I love women in all our glory, our shapes and sizes. I want to create work people can identify with, that speaks to them. In a world that too often tells women they are not good enough, not pretty or thin enough.
I want to remind them they are a magnificent force of nature and there is so much beauty in their curves and lines. In the same way we can appreciate the beauty in nature, the vastness of the ocean, without judgement but with awe, we should appreciate the beauty in ourselves. We are after all, made of stars."
SISTERS BY THE SEA BY LU CORNISH - (Available in medium and large framed prints from £60)
Are the ladies in your art based on people you know?
"No… and yes. They are not what you would consider a traditional ‘portrait’, however, the strong women that are in my life are reflected in my work. Memories of my mum swimming with me in the Mediterranean Sea. The way someone’s hair blows in the wind, the cheeky sparkle in their eyes, as they plunge in to ice cold water with no fear. To come to the surface laughing. To stand on the beach looking at the sea in complete calmness when 10 minutes before she’s been panicking about how she’s going to juggle work, kids and keep the house clean. Those breathtaking women I see in my everyday life very much influence the people in my work."
Does the time of year influence the colour palette you use in your art?
No but my mood does. I absolutely love playing with colours and creating a sense of place and feeling with them.
What artist tool can’t you live without?
My iPad. I can be on a bus, or in a car or in bed at 3am and my iPad is small, silent and allows me to to capture the feeling or idea I have in that very moment with no delay. That is a magical thing.
What piece of your portfolio are you most proud of?
I do not think there is one piece. I am so proud that I stopped panicking about what people thought and just went for it. Shared that first piece of work and kept doing it. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the former me, who in her darkest moments decided to share. Some things are easier to say in a picture.
Do you have a story behind a specific piece of art?
The very first piece of art I created and sold as a print was Wild Swimming 01 (pictured below) and ironically at that point I had never swam in cold, open water. I was so in awe of the women who did, it was a love letter to them, those brave wild women. Less than a month later, in mid December I took my first swim at Porth and immediately fell in love.
Absolutely beautiful you are amazing love your work . 💛💚💜🧡💙❤️
Really like your work 🙂