About Claire Harrison, Contemporary British Artist

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I am an artist based in West Sussex specialising in oil painting of flowers and insects, sharing my passion for nature and the environment with my followers and clients.

I was aged just three when I painted my very first watercolour, my mum went into the garden and said “choose a flower and let’s paint it”. I chose a purple flower, which for those who know me, I’m generally dressed in purple and turquoise, and my paintings are often of a similar palette!

Before the computer revolution, which now appears to consume most of our lives, I spent my childhood painting and illustrating my own stories in the garden. I loved flowers and plants and most of all growing things. I think it was because I followed my father around the garden with my miniature wheelbarrow. I helped out to the best of my ability and - although I doubt whether I actually did much helping - I was inspired by the bugs, grew mustard and cress from seed on the shed windowsill, and grew Asters in a terracotta pot!

I now have my own garden of course, where I grow lots of flowers - mostly those that are based on daisy formations. These include Rudbeckia’s, Helenium’s, Ox-Eye Daisies and of course a lot of wildflowers, Cornflowers, Corncockles, Geraniums and Teasel. Teasel is one of my favourites because of the wildlife it attracts, especially in Autumn where I like to see the Goldfinches feeding, pulling the Teasels over as the seeds pour out.

Looking back in retrospect, I can see where all the influences in my artwork come from - my fascination with pattern, insects and flowers. They were all part of my childhood and what I loved to do.

The majority of my inspiration comes from the local Sussex landscape and my garden.  Over the years it has become obvious that the seasons are moving.  Spring comes earlier and earlier and Winters are extremely mild.  I believe this is an indication of global warming, and so many of the scientists and media provide us with information regarding this issue on a global scale, but what is happening on our doorstep?  What invertebrates and wildflowers are threatened and how does that impact on us?  As I write this, we are currently experiencing a heatwave and my crops this year are thriving because of the exceptionally low population of slugs and snails – a gardeners dream perhaps, but also an indication of pressure on the water supply due to lack of rain.  The scarcity of these unpopular molluscs also have an impact on the birds and mammals, such as hedgehogs and thrushes that feed upon them.

I started my “Art Seasonally” blog to start documenting and comparing the changes in the local climate in Sussex.  I draw what I observe each week from life, and these are not only for the project, but are also used as research and inspiration for my oil paintings. To read my “Art Seasonally” blog click here.

I began my career in 2001 after graduating with a Fine Art degree by hiring a local large gallery space without any completed art works. I had 6 months before my opening, so I needed to make some work! A loan from the bank and a course on self-employment later, I launched my career and created 40 works to exhibit. These were photographic and digitally manipulated works, as I didn’t have a studio. From the success of this exhibition which was featured in the local press, and following an interview on the local radio station, the Director of The Farnham Maltings, arts centre, at my private view offered me a studio space - and so my art career was born!

Since then I have exhibited in the UK and abroad in both solo and selected group shows, and I have often been featured in both public and private collections. I sell to clients in several countries including the UK, China and Canada.

I am passionate about art, nature and the environment! I also enjoy sharing my enthusiasm and experience with the local community and I run courses at Guildford Institute and teach on a one-to-one basis.

I have been teaching art techniques, how to develop creativity and how to overcome creative block to children, amateurs and fellow artists for over 15 years.  I have found that the artist and their creativity is still shrouded in mystery and thought of as a product of genetic fortune.  However, like any other professional I believe that being an artist is about hard work and practice, just like any other successful business owner or athlete.   Therefore I started my “It’s All About Art” blog to try and demystify the creative process, to explain why I do what I do, and how I do what I do, with the objective of de-mystifying the role of the artist and motivating all those art students out there. 

So many students arrive at classes saying “I will never be an artist” or that they can’t be one, because they don’t have any talent.  I believe that everyone can be taught the skill of drawing and painting, but some will ultimately have a natural flair for it.  For those who want to become artists, all they need is the persistent drive and motivation to do hours of practice and work to create artworks, in whatever form that may take. “It’s All About Art” blog can be read here.


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