'Beauty of Teesdale brings out the artist in everyone
Jo Van Kampen has been a professional fine artist for the past 25 years. Her private commissioned work, which she creates at her Barnard Castle home, is hung all over the world. In 2008 she was head-hunted by the British Kennel Club to produce 255 colour illustrations of the current registered breeds, a project which took two years to complete.
How did you get started as an artist and what is your medium?
I attempted art college after I left school. I managed one term and couldn’t bear the low standard, so I left and painted my first commission. It all started from there.
What inspires your art most and which other artists have influenced your work?
My biggest influence is a 19th century wildlife artist called Archibald Thorburn. When I was eight, in 1976, I won £5 on Red Rum when he won the Grand National and I bought his book of birds, which was an unusual choice for an eight-year-old.
I spent many happy years as a single child copying his fantastic paintings and learning how he did it, all by myself.
He’s definitely been my mentor over the years and his style still has a noticeable influence on my work.
What is your favourite artistic style?
I love the loose, but accurate style of Munnings, Thorburn and Cecil Aldin, also I am in awe of William Morris.
The dale has a wealth of artistic talent. What do you attribute this to?
The low population, the beauty and wildness of Teesdale and Weardale, the variety of landscapes and weather – there’s something to bring out the artist in everyone.
Do you have a special place where you create your work?
I have a lovely big summer house in my garden which is my studio.
It is in three zones - oils, water colours and packaging.
Apart from art, what are your other interests?
I have a mixed bunch of dogs. Two are rescues from Cyprus. I also have four horses and ponies including Charity, my mare who’s been with me for the last 25 years. She’s a legend.
Do you have a favourite piece of art from another artist and can you explain what draws you to it?
I have huge admiration for really top drawer botanical art, from Dutch flower painters through to contemporary botanical art.
I love Anne Cotterill’s work.
How are you keeping yourself busy while the county is under lockdown?
Looking after my animals, going for nice local walks on the Demesnes and Flatts Woods and painting.
Because I sell my commissioned work all over the world I’m internet based so nothing’s really changed there.
For anyone who hasn’t seen your artwork, is there anywhere currently they can view it?
Go to www.jovankampen.com