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January 15, 2024 —

Meet the Maker: Bethany Holmes

A chance opportunity to create a large abstract artwork led Bethany Holmes to leave her career as a print designer, and become a full time artist - working barefoot from her studio, with the British countryside as her muse.
British artist Bethany Holmes' contemporary abstract artwork inside countryside studio
Contemporary abstract artwork inside British artist Bethany Holmes' countryside studio
Shelley Welti
91 Magazine online content editor,

Photography

Emma Gosling
Photographer,
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Hi Bethany, why and when did you decide to start your business? 

While on a print design internship with a global textile design company in 2012, I was asked to create a large scale piece of abstract artwork for a photoshoot. I had not previously done a piece of artwork on this scale. At that time I mainly painted loose abstract florals, which was why I was selected to join them. They were so pleased with the abstract piece that I’d produced, and I enjoyed the experience so much that I went home and decided to paint my own artwork to cover the walls in my rented flat. The landlords idea of artwork was not exactly the same as mine!

Once friends and colleagues had seen what I was doing I started to receive commissions and it grew from there! I realised that I loved painting in this style so much and other people were responding to it.

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What had you done previously?

I continued to work full time as a print designer while doing my own artwork in the evenings and weekends. All my days off were used to promote my own business and paint from my spare room. In 2017, I decided I needed my own studio having realised that this was the time to make a go of my own business.

How would you describe your signature style?

I aspire to create individual emotive artwork that will always be beautifully presented. Nothing will ever leave the studio unless I am 100 percent satisfied with it. I strive to ensure that the use of colour within my work is unique to me.

I do think however that as an artist it’s hard to have a signature style as you are continually developing your practice. You have to be open to change for your skills to grow and develop, and for the artwork to be the best it can possibly be.

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Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

My paintings are built up from layers of paint, pastel and oil stick, evolving as each layer goes down. I tend to work on large scale randomly sized cut raw canvas, nailed into the studio wall. I find that working on the wall allows my whole body to be part of the creative process. The marks that are made are greater, stronger whilst at the same time being more considered. Painting on the wall also ensures I step back and consider the composition and balance of a piece. Some paintings take days, whilst others can take years.

If a painting begins to feel too safe, I will take the greater risk of painting over it, trusting the process and knowing that what comes next will be even better.

Hard question: do you have a favourite piece?

My favourite is usually the painting that sits in the studio for months, if not years, and is a constant battle. These pieces come into their own eventually and give me the most pleasure. A few that come to mind our ‘Finding Time’ & ‘Now & Then’.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

My life is a balance between my passion for creativity and that of being a mother. Everyday is a little different with this balancing act. However if I can I do like to get to the studio early whilst my husband shares the childcare duties.

Once at the studio I make a cuppa, and do a few admin tasks while the heater is on and the space warms up. I then crank up the music and work on either new commissions, a new body of work or any new projects. I’ll paint for a few hours as the energy flows and it feels right. Then I’ll have lunch, go for a walk, make a cuppa and get back in the studio for the afternoon. I always think about getting videos & photos for social media but in the flow of creating I often forget and before I know it it’s dark outside and the light is rubbish! I regularly have meetings with my website team about my next newsletter or any upcoming changes to the website too.

Most days I collect my little boy at 5pm, so then his dinner, bath and bedtime take priority. Once he’s down I usually have a shower, get in my PJ’s and do any other admin tasks or emails that need doing, as well as posting on social media and editing photos. My husband is a star and cooks most of our dinners!

How does your location inspire you?

My studio is situated on the edge of a field in the countryside. The field is ever changing in colour throughout the seasons and this is constantly presenting me with such stunning tones and diversity of colour.

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How do you approach PR and marketing?

So back in 2017, after trying to do my own website for years (and really struggling!) I was recommended a website team that charge a monthly fee. This is the best money I spend on my business. They understand that I know exactly what I want and we make a good team. They bring my website designs to life in minutes, rather then the days it would take me (and many tears) to get what I visualise up and running!

I create the ideas and content for a monthly newsletter and they ensure it looks beautiful, is presented well and goes out on the last Sunday of every month. They also give me the gentle push I need to stick to dates and explore new ideas.

I love Instagram and the many wonderful followers I have. I always try to keep my grid looking interesting and use high quality, beautiful imagery. I try to post everyday, but this can sometimes be a challenge!

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What’s in-store for you over the coming months? 

I have got new gallery representation with Silson Contemporary Gallery in Harrogate and am taking part in their January and May shows which Im very much looking forward to. This also means creating a new body of work by spring so that’ll keep me busy, along with any commissions that might arise! I’m also always open to new gallery representation and any opportunities that might come my way in 2024!

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If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?

Have the confidence that you can achieve what you want to achieve with hard work and determination. See negativity as a positive force and prove the sceptics wrong. Your brand represents you so always present it in the best way that you can. Never underestimate yourself.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS


Describe your work in three words: Emotive, personal (to the both the artist and the recipient), and thought-provoking.

What are your creating rituals?  I never paint in shoes. I get to the studio and depending on the time of year, paint in barefoot or big thick winter socks. I always make sure to have a cuppa when I go into the studio to start painting. I also have to paint to music. It allows my to get completely lost in the process of creating.

Tea or coffee? Tea, always tea. Coffee smells good but tastes awful.

Mountains or sea? Sea. It can evoke so different moods depending on the weather.

Night owl or early bird? Early bird! Come 7pm I’m useless. I post on Instagram and do a few emails after 7pm, but never paint into the evening. I’d get too tired and grumpy!

I wish someone had told me You can have a career in the creativity industry and it can be a successful one. Don’t listen to the doubters.

bethanyholmes.co.uk

@bethanyholmesart

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