In this artist interview, painter Amber Raye Haigh shares with us her artistic process, ideas, and inspiration. To see more of her work, please visit her online gallery.
Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself.
I am a very creative person and feel like I will burst if I don’t channel some of that creativity into painting. I paint in my spare time, and during my working week I am a self-employed garden designer and landscape gardener, which I love. But painting is my passion. We live by the sea, which makes me happy, keeps me well, and inspires my paintings. I live with my lovely husband, who never minds how long I paint for, and two dogs who drag me out on daily walks along the coast. My children are all grown up — so I am in a very happy place right now!
How and when did you start out as an artist?
I was first introduced to art when I chose GCSE art at school and have loved it ever since. I am mostly self-taught, apart from joining the occasional art class. Since then, I’ve been constantly trying to improve and challenge myself. I started painting seriously about 5 years ago when I was ill and needed a distraction.
What training did you have?
GCSE art, A level art and a few art evening classes — but mostly self-taught.
What has been your best creative achievement so far?
Oil painting! I just love the colour, texture, workability of it. I’m most happy when painting oils, and my favourite picture to date is Sea Fret at Wheal Kitty.
What’s your favourite quote?
‘What will be, will be.’ I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. My other favourite saying is ‘Push the door. If it opens go through, if it doesn’t try another door.’ — which is pretty much the same thing. Life is too short to stress and be unhappy with what you do, although that’s easier said than done.
Who is your favourite artist?
Oh tricky…Antony Garrett, Julie Dumbarton, Monet, and Lachlan Goudie.
What are you aiming for?
To be able to paint full-time and ideally earn a living from it. But earning or not, I will still paint as I love it. I can’t go too long without putting down some colour on the canvas, and if I can earn at the same time, wonderful.
How will you get there?
Trial and error. Social media. By hook or by crook! But mostly by perseverance. People like my work, so I will get there.
Is anything holding you back?
I guess I’m quite shy about my paintings. That holds me back, but I’m working on it.
You and art
What sort of reactions does your work receive? Are you ever surprised?
People generally say ‘Wow!’ or ‘That’s amazing!’, which always surprises me. Every time. I always get loads of comments on social media, which is why I decided to revamp my website. Some I think are better than others, some take time to grow on me, but regardless it’s my love of painting that keeps me going.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
It’s being by the sea, which is my main subject, feeling it, seeing it, watching it, then planning my work. Once I start painting, time is irrelevant, so I don’t really notice it. Some I finish in a few hours, others take a day or so, or even weeks with drying time in between because I use oils. I am usually working on several at once, so I always have something that is dry enough to work on. That suits me fine most of the time, but occasionally I get impatient with the drying time of oil.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
A whole different range from classical soothing to African tribal music. Depending on what mood I am in. Mostly soothing, like indie or classical piano.
What is next in the pipeline for you? Any new directions or shows coming up?
I have started booking some local craft fairs, and my daughter is promoting my art as part of her university project. She is doing Business so we shall see where that goes. I am going to put more on social media too.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you, and why?
There isn’t one person that inspires me, which may be odd. All people are on their own journey, we all have good days and bad. I am no better or worse than anyone else. Just in a different place. My family all supports me, and encourages me, does that count? However, nature inspires me. Beauty inspires me. Sea, colour, light, leaves, trees!
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
Nature inspires me. The ever-changing seasons, the restless sea, trees in winter, leaves in autumn, rocks and pebbles on the beach, beside the beach, water, movement of water, cold running streams, big wild seas, calm tranquil clear blue sea. There is inspiration in everything.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
I like Sea Fret most at the moment. It was painted while my husband fished on a foggy Sunday morning. Lovely memories of time beside the sea, but I studied the sea for ages, and really felt I captured its restlessness and the towering rocks beside us.
Words of wisdom
Do you have any advice for those starting out as an artist?
Follow your heart and don’t give up. Don’t think that you can’t do it. Who says you can’t? (Kevin Bacon just popped into my head). Self-doubt is the biggest sabotager. Do it for you; I am doing it for me!