White Sheep of the Family
It used to be a family joke that I was the white sheep of the family. My parents were honest and hard-working, but not academic, and my Mum’s biggest criticism of me was “You, you’re always studying!” Hardly a crime, though at the time I thought she made it sound like one!
I was the first one in the family to go to grammar school, take “A” levels, and then to work in a office (though I did lots of other things too). I didn’t dare to tell my parents that I really wanted to do Art with my more academic subjects. Years later I was the first family member to get a degree, through the Open University, followed by professional qualifications. Mum was right, I was always studying.
Painting and Drawing Sheep
Art was in my system. I often kept sketchbooks, did an occasional art evening class, and joined art groups, trying to find out what I enjoyed most. I always came back to painting animals – that white sheep had really got under my skin!
Sheep have got such fascinating faces. Whether I’m walking through the fields near my home, or visiting the Lake District, I always seem to gravitate towards them. Though to be fair, cows are magnetic too!
A few years ago I took part in an exhibition to celebrate 25 years of the Belfry Shopping Centre in Redhill, Surrey. I found an old news story about sheep escaping from their field and finding their way to the town’s railway station, and this painting called “On the Loose in Redhill” was born.
After I left home, Mum kept white sheep in her garden – ornaments, not real ones. Perhaps she didn’t think that being a white sheep was such a bad thing after all!