REYTA Finalist Just Beverley shortlisted nominee o2 community publication award 2017

Shirley Harrison, Shirley and Scruff

Shirley is a local artist, who has seen her name grow as one of the region’s most popular painters of local buildings and landmarks. She has recently made painting her full time passion, after several years of fitting it around her work. Just Beverley caught up with her to hear about her painting process.

I tend to start painting quite early in the day. Especially at this time of year when the weather’s good, I’ll be outside on the patio around 7am taking in the morning sunshine. Seeing all of the flowers in the garden beautifully lit up is really motivating – people comment on how early I start my days but when you’re doing something creative like painting, natural daylight is really important and we’re lucky that we get plenty of it in the British summertime. I don’t want to waste a minute!

I usually have several projects on the go at once, so after spending the morning painting I’ll go out for a walk or a drive and photograph a building I’ve chosen to work on. I’ll get in touch with the owners of the building to let them know I’m planning to paint it too. It makes working on the painting much nicer knowing someone is waiting to see the end result, and eager to display it inside. There are a few paintings I’ve done like this now. The butchers in Hessle has one of my paintings inside, as does Browns in Beverley.

I’ll stand in front of the building and study small details of it really closely, keeping them in mind for when I’m back home and ready to begin painting. I’ll photograph the building too, to remind me of scale and key layout, this makes it a bit easier to refer back to.

I do also make return visits to a building once I’ve begun a painting, although this can be problematic. It took ages to complete the butcher’s painting because every time I went back to see it there was a pram parked outside blocking the area I needed to see! Other times there have been skips in the way, and even a missing flag from a flagpole once meant I had to paint Beverley Building Society with a blank space in the middle, filling it in at a later date!

A painting can take a long time to complete , so it’s never a case of every day being the same. Sometimes I’ll be starting something new, other times I’ll be delivering a finished, framed picture to a customer, but most of the time I’m busy doing the majority of the painting itself.

In the afternoon I’ll often go for a walk around the town. I have my paintings printed onto cards, tea towels and bags too, and while I walk around I carry these in a wicker basket – it’s my mobile shop! People often spot me and realise who I am by the red bow on the basket. I’m easy to spot once you know who I am, and people can buy my products from me there and then.

I still do some fundraising for Breakthrough Breast Cancer in my spare time. This was what I did before I committed to painting full time, so the two roles have swapped and now I’ll dedicate time to this around my painting.

All of my painting takes place in spaces I feel relaxed in. The best place is out in the open countryside, but my patio makes a great outdoor studio too and on days that aren’t as sunny I’ll take to my kitchen. A coffee is always on hand that way!

You can view Shirley’s work on her Facebook page:


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