Interview with Lucy from The Whispering Wild

by Ms Jude Schweppe

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We were delighted to be able to ‘borrow’ Lucy for a few minutes so she could answer some questions for us about what inspires her as an artist and her passion for nature. We hope you enjoy reading.

Tell us a bit about your background and why you started painting?

I have always been creative but after struggling at school and being told I would never become an artist I suppose I became nervous to rediscover my creativity. However nine years ago my husband was deployed in the military and, alone in an environment I wasn't familiar with, I decided to recreate the magic I discovered whilst out walking as a way of passing the time. For many years this resulted in sculpting whimsical creatures from wool which would appear with their own stories. The three dimensional aspect of sculpting made me more familiar with form and movement and the stories were just begging to be illustrated, so about four years ago I put the self-critic to one side and began to paint with watercolours. I love the freedom that sculpting, storytelling and painting allows me and now it’s less about passing time and more about actually being my time as I can't go a single day with creating something!

What do you enjoy painting the most?

My favourite thing to paint is not a specific creature but more developing a character and a sense of feeling, time and place. I often start a painting with an idea of how this might be, but as I paint the feeling evolves, a melancholy piece can become joyous. I just love these small surprises.

You are most at home in the countryside – tell us a bit about the magic it holds for you?

To describe how much nature means to me would be impossible because the magic of what I find is so woven within my own story that it would be like trying to pick myself apart. The stories I was told as a child of animals talking and going about their lives felt so real to me, I knew that if I sat still long enough I would witness something and I suppose in a way I have because the sitting still, the observing, smelling, tasting has helped me to imagine magical moments. I will forever be grateful for this sight that has kept me believing in fairy tales into my thirties, and long may it continue.

We discovered your beautiful work when we were searching on Instagram for bee illustrations! What draws you to these incredible little creatures?

All animals hold their own individual space in my imagination. Bees are no exception. What I find most fascinating about bees is how they live around us. When I am walking I may be lucky enough to spot a deer, a fox or even a weasel! These animals tend to stop, give me a quick glance and slip silently back into their own secret world, bees are a little different. I can sit in my small garden where the borage grows and watch them without disturbing them. I can witness the way their wings move too quickly for my human vision, the way they hang beneath the blooms or carry pollen upon their legs. Bees gift us a chance to really see into a world outside of our own which is why we should do all we can to enable this story to unfold.

What do you hope people take from your art and your words?

To think that people take anything at all is a true gift so whatever it may be I am thankful. A smile though would be wonderful and one of my most favourite things is when someone contacts me to say my art has reminded them of a story they were once told and had completely forgotten about but it had instantly transported them back.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently very busy creating a small collection for my first ever open studio event. After many years of searching I found an old bakery next to a woodland which I converted into my studio. It’s my cosy little cabin complete with wood burner and woodland birds that visit the feeder. I have been working alone in here for some time so it will be nice to open it up to the public. I am also working on a long term project of creating my own book. This is my biggest dream and really shapes so much of my creativity.

If you could have tea and cake with anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you talk about?

Oh well that’s easy: Beatrix Potter. There are no words to express how much I love this woman. I have been inspired by her from the moment I was read her stories as a child, to watching the 90's television series and to walking the area she lived in to discover more about her fascinating life. I'm not sure what I would talk about with her, perhaps I would prefer to go out for a walk with her in her beloved lakes, to see her in the environment she was so influenced by and then back to hill top for tea and cake with those naughty mice!