GETTING CREATIVE: Artist Sandra Parker. You can view her work at her gallery in Barnard Castle town centre
GETTING CREATIVE: Artist Sandra Parker. You can view her work at her gallery in Barnard Castle town centre

Renowned watercolour artist Sandra Parker re-opened her Barnard Castle-based gallery last month following the easing of restrictions and is looking forward to welcoming customers, old and new. However, she says she will continue to carry on care work in the community, something she did during the coronavirus lockdown to feel “constructive”.

How did you get started as an artist and what is your medium?
I work in oil on canvas, paper or board. Like most people, it started as a hobby and after several years and practice got to the stage where I had the confidence to approach a gallery which took my work and I was fortunate enough to be able to turn professional.

What inspires your art the most, and which other artists have influenced your artwork?
I admire certain styles and individual artists but none have directly influenced my personal style.

What is your favourite artistic style?
I would have to say Peter Brook. He has a free-flowing style and a randomness which I, being slightly OCD, am unable to achieve. He also injects a great sense of humour into his work.

The dale has a wealth of artistic talent, what do your attribute this to?
The obvious answer is the beauty of the region with its weather sculptured hills and wild conditions which create amazing atmosphere and a varied pallet of colour.
But I also thing artists are drawn here because of the peace and isolation you can find which can only serve to inspire any artist.

What is your favourite work and why?
The favourite piece of my own work is titled Autumn mist rising, because it is different to most of my other pieces.
It is a large moorland landscape with a misty sky and only two sheep. I have captured the atmosphere of the moors at dawn and is a piece in its entirety not just focusing on the sheep.

Do you have a special place where you create your work?
My creative space is and always has been my spare bedroom apart from when I first started and it was then a small caravan on the farm. The places of special creative inspiration for me are the dales and moorland where my creative ideas initially manifest, the studio is just a tool like my brushes etc.

Apart from art, what are your other interests?
To be honest I don’t have many others apart from my art – walking our Romany rescue dogs and listening to my audio books, but that’s when I am painting.

Do you have a favourite piece of art from another artist and can you explain what draws you to it?
I am always drawn to The Young Hare, by Albrecht Durer. I think it’s the fine quality of the brush marks and the life instilled into the hare by Durer, I’m not a lover of watercolour or bodycolour but this piece is an exquisite example of both mediums, the way he has laid the shadow down and the almost grubby background all adds to the beauty of this piece.
My other piece is the self-portrait – with a straw hat – by Van Gough. I saw this in the metropolitan museum, in New York, several years ago and it simply made me cry. It was exquisite, small but perfect and the thing that struck me was the way he had applied very thin paint and had left parts of the rough-hewn canvass exposed using its texture as part of the painting. To me as a budding artist it was genius and came as a complete surprise to me.

How did you keep yourself busy during lockdown?
For the first two weeks, we enjoyed the sunshine and settled Louis, our first Romanian rescue dog, down and maintained the garden, enjoying the time with my husband Phil. By the third week we decided to do something more constructive so I started working as a home care worker for Castlecare a local firm round Barnard Castle, and later Phil took up a post at the testing centre at Penrith which he continues to do.

For anyone who hasn’t seen your artwork, is there anywhere currently they can view it?
Yes, in my gallery in Barnard Castle The Sandra Parker Studio; Thornthwaite Gallery, near Carlisle; Moorlands Gallery, Bedale; and, The Chapel Gallery, Hawes.