This week, we step inside the studio of Beatrice Cloake, a talented watercolourist.
“I am mainly an artist of Light and Colours. My paintings are created through emotions. I am inspired by events that move my senses: colours, light, sunshine falling on objects or landscapes, the smile of a child.”
An emotive approach has always been important to Beatrice, and she tells us of her passion and inspiration for painting, a skill Beatrice has mastered as she has carved her own original style across a variety of subjects, including seascapes and still life.
Tell us about your inspiration.
I have a fascination for the atmospheric skies over the sea, seen from my studio. Everything I paint has to be atmospheric or have a meaning. There is so much inspiration around when we are sensorial!
A few years back we had vandals who killed cygnets from a nest on our canal. I was distraught. I had seen them, photographed them, the parents even trusted the passers-by. When I heard of what had happened, I grabbed a large canvas and created one of my masterpieces, “On the nest” .
Beatrice pictured with “On The Nest”.
Later, under the same circumstances, I created a painting of the War Memorial in our town. It had been vandalised.
You describe your very first painting of an Apple and an Autumn Leaf, which you created aged 8, with great significance. Could you describe in detail that very moment when you first decided to become an artist?
I was eight years old. It was Autumn. At school, we had been learning poems about the season and were asked to bring an apple and a dead leaf. I do remember searching for these colourful items.
I vividly recall the smell of apples in the classroom. The teacher told us we had to draw our fruit and leaf and paint them.
There was a lot of noise around me. I was not interested at all by the commotions. I was trying to match the colours I was seeing, onto my paper. I was painting with gouache, a medium given to the children in the 50’s. I thought it was beautiful! I worked hard.
The lesson ended far too soon. I came back home knowing that one day I would be like my father, an artist. I was so proud to show my parents, my first painting.
Later when I was 16 years old, my father took me to see an exhibition by a woman artist. Her name was Renée Carpentier. She was a seascape painter. It really took me to a new level of determination for an Art career. It was a fatal mistake by my father who had taught me, but was against me pursuing a career in Art. “Women care for their husband and children” were his words.
Your father, an artist himself, was a grand master in stained glass. Were you surrounded by art during your childhood? Tell us how this impacted your own desire to create.
I was born on the top of my Dad’s workshop. He was a Master in Stained glass windows and won the title of Best worker in France 1958.
I was literally surrounded by vivid colours. They were all around me and were part of my life. We had stained glass even into our kitchen, bedrooms, lounge, internal doors, everywhere.
As a child, when it was sunny, I had a fascination for the patches of colours falling on the floor from our windows. I quickly grew up wanting to be involved and do remember being a pain to my father. I think he quickly understood he had one of his children who was artistic.
He let me get involved while he was choosing the swatches of colours for the creation of some windows. During my holidays, I was helping while he was doing real life reproductions on a very large table. (drawings previous to glass cutting)
He took me to museums, explained to me the construction of a painting: the choice of colours, how to achieve the shadows, the perspective, the beauty of Oil as a medium. At 11 years old, I stood with him in front of a large nude. He explained to me there was no shame at looking at nudity created by an artist. He told me to look at carefully the tone of the flesh. How clever of the artist to have painted so skillfully the eyes, the hair and many more advises.
I have seen him painting in Oil, in Pastel and Watercolour and I was receiving a first-class lesson in Art.
My father also had many artists friends. We were meeting them very often.
“Roses In A Blue Vase” by Beatrice Cloake
Photo © Copyright Beatrice Cloake
Some made a huge impact on my young eyes trying to learn. One was creating Mosaic Art. No children were allowed in his studio, even his own. My father asked the permission to take me there. He gave in after my Dad vouched I would not touch anything. Oh, I was in awe in front of the big panels so beautifully decorated, full of colours, blue being his dominant colour and all the darling pieces of Mosaic waiting to be chosen.
Another artist’s studio I was allowed to go to was a sculptor. He was brilliant and made many big commissioned statues. We also had artists who stayed in our house. They came from Paris working with my Dad when there was too much work. Of course, I have witnessed a lot of talking about Art and was always involved.
I was about 17 when I stayed with one relative in the South of France. I met an artist who had studied under Picasso in Paris! And so, I learnt and learnt probably more than if I had been to Art College! Art has been part of all my youth. It was normal I became obsessed with it. I also learnt how to receive sharp critics. I was always eager to draw and show my masterpieces. My Dad had students. One told me my composition was good but my sense of perspective was no good. I was very hurt, licked my wounds and tried again… It was a lesson well received. One: I was to try to learn about perspective. Two: never be too self assured about my work. Three: Only show a work that is well executed.
“Goodnight Dungeness” by Beatrice Cloake
Photo © Copyright Beatrice Cloake
You capture light in your work through the use of colour, particularly in your seascape painting “Goodnight Dungeness”. What does light represent to you?
“Goodnight Dungeness” is another emotional painting. 10 years ago, we moved into our smaller house with a sea view towards Dungeness. How often I had looked at the banal ugly power stations. However, early morning when the sun was caressing them with its first rays of a new day, the towers actually became tantalising. They were receiving beautiful shades of ochre and orange colours sent with the fresh light. But the most spectacular time was the sun falling in the sea adorned by a red sky! A bit of my world fell apart when an extension was built in front of the view.
Before it vanished entirely, I grabbed a large Watercolour paper and created “Goodnight Dungeness” It was also a Goodbye! The light is bewitching. Light and colour are the strongest tools of a seascape or landscape artist. One great artist Paul Dmoch told me “Light comes out of Obscurity”. There is no better way to explain it!
I worked this painting in wet, laying Pale Yellow, Permanent Rose, Scarlet Red, threw some Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine to achieve the darkness of the coming night. The coastline with the towers was a mixture of all the colours.
“Serenity Beaulieu” by Beatrice Cloake
Photo © Copyright Beatrice Cloake
“Serenity Beaulieu” is such a magical painting. What made you select oil for this piece?
Beaulieu is a place where time seems to stand still. We visited in September. It was quiet, serene with a touch of Autumn in the air. I fell for this landscape. I saw the possibility to express it with the softness of Pastel or the fluidity of Watercolour. I chose Oil as it was combining both mediums. I love Oil as I could achieve luminosity and softness.
As an active member of the art community, you have exhibited widely and have been selected by a number of prestigious art organisations to curate their collections and exhibitions. What do you look for during your curation process?
Curating is not for the faint-hearted. We cannot choose with our heart only. It has to be a combination of head over heart! I have taken under my wing Today’s Grand Masters of Fine Art. The criteria to be chosen is simply being the best they can achieve in a medium and style. The artist’s work has to show passion for the craft. Pride of execution of a painting. Good presentation with knowledge of their trade. I need to feel excitement in what they are producing. A good consistent portfolio. Chosen artists can have different styles, realism to abstract but have to be unique. I can view each of their painting knowing to whom it belongs. Their style is consistent.
You have been commissioned by large corporations including the Royal Bank Of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. Could you tell us the subjects of your paintings for these two major corporations?
My first commission for Corporate banking was with HBOS Corporate. They wanted something different than a simple invitation for Burns Night. I was asked if I could come with a design for their invites. It was fun! I produced a design they liked so much, they used it for all the stationery.
The following year I had once more the pleasure to produce another design, this time on a theme. “Tam O’Shanter”. It was also used for invites, menus etc.
The next year, Clydesdale Bank came first for a request. They had seen my work and wanted the same kind of design. This time, the theme was “Address to Haggis”. One of the most challenging requests, as they got in touch with me beginning of November and wanted their completed design by the end of November. It became a very tight date as I had to wait for the Board approval on my idea and layout of my presentation. The original painting used for their stationery was sold at auction on the night.
Commission for Clydesdale Bank.
Photo © Copyright Clydesdale Bank
I was also requested a design for a well known Insurance Company, but decided to stop designing. The pressure of a very short deadline was too much to take. When I produce a painting for a client it has to be A1 and so I did have long working days.
If you could own any of the masters’ work, which would you choose and why?
Oh what a tough question this is. I would love to own so many of them! Renoir has always been my first love.
However, there is a painting that has brought tears to my eyes. It would be the one as I can relate to it. Full with feminity, love, softness and tenderness: “The cradle” by Berthe Morisot.
Berthe Morisot “The Cradle”.
Photo © Copyright Musée d Orsay
If I could afford a painting by Berthe Morisot, I would be able to get one by Mary Cassat too, “Louise Nursing her Child”. There is nothing more touching than a woman breastfeeding her baby.
Mary Cassat “Louise Nursing her Child”
Photo © Copyright Wikipedia Art
You have been described by many as the “Queen Of Roses” for your beautiful rose still life paintings. What is it that draws you to paint this subject?
I am associated with roses. My followers know only too well, I am absolutely besotted by those flowers!
For centuries roses have been associated with romanticism and women. I am a great dreamer and romantic. I grow them in my garden. Where there is space, there is a rose bush or a climber. I have to paint them. It is like an obsession. I choose the old rose type.
This year, I have had hundreds of them but heavy rain has spoilt a lot of buds. A still life with roses conveys volupty, emotions, love. It lifts our senses. I cannot have enough of them.
We hope you enjoyed learning about Beatrice and her story, discovering how she developed her passion for painting.
You have seen just a sample of Beatrice’s beautiful artwork here. Make sure you discover Beatrice’s full collection of original fine art paintings before you go.
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