Look Good

4 Northern england artists you need to know about

Finding quality art for your home shouldn’t be down to the luck of the draw and that’s not how we’re going to portrait it. Set your mind at easel and let us help you get off to a flying art by introducing you to these four fabulous female artists

Written by High Life North
Published 29.01.2021


Sarah was one of those toddlers who never slept and one of her earliest memories is getting up at 5.00am to start drawing. Having trained in graphic design and illustration and after dabbling with animation, Sarah became a primary school teacher. But it wasn’t until she was asked to oversee an art project and had to stop herself wrestling the paintbrushes off the children so that she could do it herself that she decided to head back into the world of professional art. 

Sarah has only just parted ways with a paintbox first given to her by one of her own schoolteachers, after it tragically lost its 40-year battle with rust – using ink and watercolour, Sarah’s landscapes, townscapes and illustrated maps are a celebration of her beloved North East and Yorkshire. Commissions are always welcome, as are visitors to her studio in Felton. 

Most inspirational place: ‘There’s a walk down to the coast from Howick Hall Gardens. The Gardens themselves are beautiful, with seasonal displays of snowdrops, daffodils and tulips, but you walk through the East Arboretum (which is huge, wild and very quiet), and eventually emerge on the rugged Howick coastline. Truly one of the hidden gems of Northumberland.’

Favourite artist(s): ‘I really love the paintings of Alfred Wallis. He never had an art lesson and didn’t pick up a paintbrush until he was nearly 70. Using bits of old packing boxes and shipbuilder’s paint, he created seascapes from memory, telling the story of the old sail ships around St Ives in Cornwall. His naive paintings have a map-like quality which I really enjoy.’

One piece of art you wish you’d created: ‘The Lindisfarne Gospels, they’re stunning.’

Top tip for HLN readers: ‘Try not to have any preconceived ideas about how you want your picture to turn out. Choose a subject/medium you’re interested in and just get started! In the way that our handwriting is unique, everyone has their own style. If you let it develop naturally without any rules or judgement, you’ll end up with something authentic, just like Alfred Wallis did.’

Northumberland fine art print by Sarah Farooqi, various sizes, £10 – £85

The Quayside fine art print by Sarah Farooqi, various sizes, £10 – £105

Sunrise on Holy Island fine art print by Sarah Farooqi, various sizes, £10 – £85

Find out more about Sarah on her website, Facebook page or on Instagram

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Yorkshire-based artist Heather comes from a family of keen amateur painters, but first pursued a career in journalism before she found time to delve head-first into a career as a professional artist. Specialising in palette knife work, Heather seeks to capture the emotion and movement in figurative painting while also reflecting the depth and diversity of the UK’s extraordinary landscapes. 

Most inspirational place: ‘Whenever I’m wanting to kick-start a landscape, I’m invariably drawn to the North Yorkshire coastline and the North York Moors. The coastal villages, rugged cliffs and seascapes and the vast open wilderness of the moors are inspirational, especially when the light is constantly changing, and each turn of the corner presents another stunning view.’ 

Favourite artist(s): ‘There are so many amazing artists out there that it’s impossible to choose just one! But when I started out and was developing my figurative work, I was greatly inspired by Beverley artist Neil Helyard. We have one of his large charcoal drawings on our sitting room wall. I also love the bold landscapes of West Yorkshire artist Emerson Mayes, the figurative work of Willerby artist Geoff Hewitt and the colourful mixed-media work of Hull-based artist Angela Bell.’ 

One piece of art you wish you’d created: ‘Any one of Christian Hook’s stunning paintings!’

Top tip for HLN readers: ‘First and foremost, just enjoy art. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Then practice and experiment until you find a style that works for you.’

Blue Cello by Heather Burton, £1200 (90cm x 120cm)

Boat on the Beck by Heather Burton, £350 (60cm x 50cm)

Orchestra of Dreams by Heather Burton, POA (100cm x 120cm)

Find out more about Heather on her website or Facebook page.

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Surface print designer and illustrator Katie is inspired by the natural world, using hand-painted artworks to create surface print designs for textiles and paper products as part of her business, Katie’s Design House. 

A keen advocate of sharing her love of painting and drawing, Katie normally runs in-person workshops and has now created paint-from-home kits to help guide aspiring watercolourists on how to get started from home. 

Most inspirational place: ‘There’s just something about being by the sea that I find really calming and which helps me think more clearly. I love the walk from Staithes to Runswick Bay. For most of the walk you can view the sea from a great height, over cliff edges – it’s even stunning when it’s blowing a gale, which it definitely was when I last visited in September!’

Favourite artist(s): ‘I’m a little bit obsessed with Christopher Dresser, after discovering his work just a couple of years ago while I was studying a postgraduate course at Teesside University. We were invited to The Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough to view the largest collection of his work in the country. They had an incredible archive of wallpaper samples and it was amazing to see how he could turn his hand to anything, from textiles and wallpaper to hand-painted ceramics and furniture. I was blown away to see pieces that had all been created from start to finish by hand and, despite being made in the 19th century, still felt so current today.’

One piece of art you wish you’d created: ‘Anything at all by Claire Basler! Claire paints unbelievable fine art oil paintings of florals and woodland scenes and her wall murals are out of this world. If I could paint like Claire, I’d cover every wall inside my house and pretend I lived in the woods!’ 

Top tip for HLN readers: ‘You can use one colour or hundreds; you can use classic tools such as pencils, pens and brushes or you can be experimental and use sponges, sticks and random items from around the house. The more relaxed and varied your approach towards creating is, and the less pressure you put on yourself, the more enjoyable it is.’

Violets fine art watercolour print by Katie Burns, £12 (21cm x 15cm); £18 (30cm x 21cm); £28 (42cm x 30cm)

Runswick Bay fine art watercolour print by Katie Burns, £18 (30cm x 21cm); £28 (42cm x 30cm)

Watercolour postcards by Katie Burns, £3 each (15cm x 10.5cm) or 4 for £10 mix and match (only with code POSTCARD)

Find out more about Katie on her website, Facebook page or on Instagram

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Keen bird-watcher Charlotte often features landscapes in her work and takes inspiration from the plants and wildlife that surround her in her native Northumberland. 

Splitting her time between teaching and painting, Charlotte works largely in watercolours but often uses acrylics and oils in her work too. She also experiments with pigment powders and ink, which lend themselves perfectly to the abstract style of her paintings. 

Most inspirational place: ‘It has got to be the River Tyne. I regularly walk areas of the Tyne around Hexham – partly because I enjoy bird-watching and rivers tend to provide a rich diversity of bird life, but also because I never tire of the views. Seasons, time of day and weather all offer different details which I tune into. Reflections on the water are always changing and they create a lot of shadow, light and tonal interest. Many of my paintings contain water, whether that be rivers, lakes or even rain.’  

Favourite artist(s): ‘Linda Kemp is a very well known Canadian artist working in watercolour and acrylic. She’s renowned for her negative painting, which means she paints around a shape, rather than the shape itself. The object remains light and the paper around it becomes darker as more layers of paint are added, rather like inverting the colour on photos. I often turn to her work when I want to challenge myself. Linda is a master at what she does and she makes her work look deceptively easy, which is part of the attraction.’

One piece of art you wish you’d created: Mimosa and Pale Pink Tulips by Shirley Trevena. Shirley is a highly regarded British watercolourist, who paints still life as well as landscapes. She breaks the rules of traditional watercolour painting and, although she is very measured in what she does, there’s always a sense of spontaneity to her work, which looks effortless. I have painted a few still life pictures and it is a subject I would definitely like to create more of.’

Top tip for HLN readers: ‘Practise, practise, practise. Observing and drawing are the foundations that underpin many great artworks. The more you practise, the more skilled you become. We’re very lucky now, as many artists provide online tutorials as well as books explaining how they work. I plan to add some online tutorials of my own, explaining how to tackle a variety of subjects, so watch this space. Also, buy decent quality paints, paper and brushes. Experiment and have fun!’

The Wayside giclée edition print by Charlotte Thompson, £90 (30cm x 43cm, unmounted); £115 (47cm x 91cm, mounted)

The Hunting Post original watercolour by Charlotte Thompson, £195 (28cm x 35.5cm, mounted)

Fox By The Wall original watercolour by Charlotte Thompson, £295 (40cm x 40cm, mounted)

Find out more about Charlotte on her website, Facebook page or on Instagram

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