My name is Elise Richards, although most know me as Lily, a nickname that stuck when my brother was little and couldn’t pronounce ‘Eleeeeseh’! I live on the south east coast of England near Brighton and have grown up surrounded by rolling countryside and fascinating beaches. Very fortunate, I know. I have a huge passion for beach hunting, particularly for sea glass and fossils, which I keep in multiple jars in my home that I share with my long suffering partner, Brian, who tolerates my beach and art clutter out of pure love.
As far back as I can remember I have been creative and arty. My mother recalls me drawing almost perfectly straight line after line as soon as I was able to hold a pencil. Drawing for me has been as natural as speech. And there have not been many times in my life when I didn’t pick up a pencil or paint brush as my ‘go to’ activity as a way to re-centre and ground myself.
I took two GCSEs in fine art and textiles at college then studied art and contemporary crafts at The University of Brighton, particularly enjoying any media that allowed me to play with color and texture. I met some truly inspirational artists in this time and exhibited my colourful ceramic work at a local art museum.
After uni, I went from job to menial job, absolutely completely not art-related in any way, and I suffered with poor self esteem. That is, until I eventually bought myself a Winsor & Newton watercolour pan and brushes at a boot fair (yard sale type of affair) right by my new home. This, after years of struggles and a broken marriage, and not so much as having glanced at a paint brush for probably that whole time.
The first thing I painted was my English Bull Terrier, Ernie. It was very naive I guess you could say, but my goodness that revelation of ‘oh yeah. This is what I do!’ was right there and I haven’t looked back. Six years on, and I’m building up a portrait service. Animals, people, even cars. And I had my busiest ever pre-Christmas period with commission work in 2019. Now that’s a strange realisation; people want to give me their money for my artwork!! Awesome!
I make sure I get time to draw, paint and doodle in my art journal on a daily basis using a variety of media, often combining ink drawings with watercolour and collage. It keeps me ‘fresh’ and feeling inspired. I buy square brown paper scrapbooks from my local craft store which are wonderful for drawing and sticking stuff in! I take them on my travels, they go everywhere with me. It is as necessary as food and sleep for my mental well-being and life balance.
I am a mom of two children who are twelve and ten, both of whom have begun their own scrapbook journals and it’s something we love to do together. My daughter is particularly creative, and I can see how she is moved and inspired by things around her, just like her mummy.
I was made redundant from my job last July, where I worked with autistic adults as an ‘Art therapist’ in inverted commas as I am not fully qualified as a professional art therapist, but that’s something I’ve thought about doing in the future. Fortunately, I was able to make ends meets with portrait commissions and have been doing that since.
I love the reactions of people when they are gifted a truly meaningful piece of art, that has had so much love put in to it. Their appreciation gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment. Instagram has been a massive source of inspiration for me, meeting other artists online through challenges such as the Doodlewash art challenges, among others, which fuel my fire!
I love to watch process videos, time lapse videos and see progress pictures. Equally, I enjoy sharing my work and the feedback I get is very encouraging.
My workspace can be anywhere I want it to be; on my lap in the car, painting the ocean or some beach treasures I’ve just picked up. On my bed in the evenings with my brushes strewn everywhere or the kitchen table where the daylight provides a perfect creative space. I tend to stick with Winsor & Newton watercolours, Derwent watercolour pencils, Staedler pens and pencils for sketching amongst other papers and marker pens.
I like to experiment with watercolour on different textured paper and parchment, and I usually lightly sketch out what I am planning on painting first. Although having said that, I have become much freer in recent months and am going straight for it with the paint, embracing the flaws and wobbles!
I am gaining a far wider ability to paint and draw other subject matter that I used to steer clear of, mainly because of the ‘I can’t do it’ mentality that I had. Wrong, Lily!! I can DO it. I’ve learned that with practice and and open mind my skills and confidence grow. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined painting human portraits and now I have quite a high demand for them. Honestly, anything is possible with passion and perseverance.
I would like to thank Charlie O’Shields for the wonderful opportunity to share my work with you as a guest artist on Doodlewash.Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in