My name is Patricia Mellett Brown (follow me on Instagram and Facebook!). Having recently moved from a busy town to a sleepy rural village, nestling in the heart of Lincolnshire, in England’s East Midlands, this is where my journey truly begins. Despite having just turned 50.
A sketchbook and pencil have always been at hand, though using colour tended to terrify me. Even now, I keep my palette pretty simple. Usually limiting myself to a few colours: – often, Prussian blue, browns and yellows with the addition of a couple of ink pens.
I have always been around art or craft in one way or another. I have been a woodworker, a candle maker and a picture framer, among other things. I have had two retail shops, teaching paint techniques in one, using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Very different to watercolour, of course, and for an entirely different purpose. Chalk paint is fantastic for painting furniture. Putting paint to furniture and putting paint onto paper may be worlds apart but both allow you to be creative. It is amazing how creative you can be with a wardrobe and kitchen table, if you put your mind to it.
Moving away from the hustle and bustle of a busy town and the resulting change of pace means that, perhaps for the first time in my life, I have been able to turn my full attention to what I have always really wanted to do and that is to paint and to illustrate. I am completely self-taught and there is so much to learn but, for me, trying out new techniques and practising old ones is the best and most important way to develop my skills.
I am constantly surprised by the fabulous, featured guests here at Doodlewash® and energised by what inspires them. Reading other people’s stories and seeing their art spurs me on to draw and paint. After all, a good writer would not just read his/her own stories right? They will read everything they can lay their hands on. And so it is with me.
In that context, it is a true honour to be asked to be a guest artist. If just one reader is inspired by my work and, on the strength of it, picks up a paint brush for the first time or is prompted to try again, then I would be delighted by that.
I don’t travel too well these days. My inspirations are all around me. Okay. I put my hands up. I’m a home bird, often preferring my garden to the town centre, observing birds and animals, plants and flowers, weather patterns in the clouds and starry, dark skies. The southern half of Lincolnshire is particularly flat so there are wide, uninterrupted horizons and the light, especially in the mornings and evenings can be spectacularly beautiful, casting subtle shadows and dazzling splashes of red and gold across the fields of deep green kale and the bright yellow flowers of the local oilseed rape.
The first of my inspirations were my chickens. Over the last ten years, I have been observing and sketching them relentlessly. My pictures are bursting into colour at last. Keeping chickens as pets has allowed me to really see their personalities. They are vulnerable souls indeed. Their unique and individual characters never cease to amaze.
Each and every one so different to the other. They can be funny, grumpy, playful, gentle and sometimes even vain. Yes, chickens too can, believe it or not, suffer from vanity. I once had two silkies. Sisters from the same batch of rich brown eggs. Fluffy creatures who spent their lives preening themselves and occasionally each other. Elegant and glamours and they knew it.
Chickens are such sociable creatures and love nothing better than hanging out with you. The odd one has been known to adore a cuddle and to fall asleep on my lap, snoozing contentedly in the sunshine. My most precious memories are of those lazy Sunday afternoons, hanging out together in our garden. Watching, transfixed, as they frolicked on the lawn, dust bathing awkwardly in the baking soil, or chasing the poor ‘broody’ mercilessly.
She’d only leave the nest box, under protest, to nibble disinterestedly on some corn, before disappearing back into the coop with a nonchalant swish of her bedraggled tail feathers, chased by the other hens or my dog. I am part way through writing a story about my beloved chickens which I hope to illustrate and finish soon.
Which brings me on to my next inspiration. My dog Yaesu and her pal Daisy Mae. I never had a puppy before. How our lives have changed since Yaesu arrived. Looking after a puppy can be challenging, but it is also such a delight. Watching and trying to capture in my paintings, the friendship that blossomed between them was a truly unexpected pleasure. Physically, the two are not at all alike, but together they are like peas in a pod.
Both like nothing better than the simple pleasure of chasing a tennis ball or charging around the garden in wide circles, poor Yaesu’s paws thudding against the lawn in an effort to keep up with Daisy’s athletic bursts of speed. Or finding a muddy puddle. Especially a muddle puddle. Unfortunately.
Since being part of the World Watercolour Group, I am increasingly noticing the beautiful things around me and taking note of the simpler things in life and around my home, so that I now want to paint and paint. So we shall see where my inspirations take me next. I, for one, see no shame in being a home bird.
So this is where my personal journey begins. In a quintessentially English village called ‘Heckington’ where I live with my absent-minded writer husband who has a fondness for hats, Yaesu and her daily shenanigans and my elderly neurotic black cat called Spotty.
My advice to all you other budding artists out there is to take on the challenge and start thinking out of the box and see where it takes you, whether that be home or away. There is a world of things to paint.