UK artist living in the Algarve, Portugal
Style: Modern and contemporary
Favorite Quote: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” Pablo Picasso
Favorite Books: The 'Dark Materials trilogy' by Philip Pullman; anything by Nicholas Sparks and 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho
Favorite Movies: 'What Dreams May Come' and 'Shakespeare in Love'
I am a self taught artist, currently painting a wide range of modern style landscapes and seascapes within my self-titled ‘New Wave’ Collection, alongside bold and bright flowers and Pet Portraits. I gave up a successful career in education to pursue my dream of having my own art studio and becoming an artist.
Please tell us about experiences creating at a young age.
I have always enjoyed art right from a very young age - like many artists I learnt art at school but had an art teacher who didn't think I could paint! I can remember being at primary school and making finger puppets out of felt and feeling that creative rush of excitement and pride when they were finished!
'Pride of Alvor' © Alyson Sheldrake, acrylic on board, size 40cm x 45cm - Original
This painting was bought by a lovely family and is now hanging in their children's playroom - let's hope it fuels their imagination for lots of adventures on the high seas!
Music and Art
Katie Melua and Norah Jones are often in my studio - and also Sugarland, Tricia Yearwood and Neil Diamond.
Do you have a job outside of art?
Not anymore! It was a very scary moment two years ago handing in my notice (finally!) and realizing that I was no longer going to be a Director of Education - I joked that I was going to be a ‘poor starving artist’ - luckily that has not been the case!
'Summer Bellis' © Alyson Sheldrake - acrylic on board, size 40cm x 40cm - Original
Painted as a commission for a friend, I love the detail in the centre of these daisies.
What are you trying to capture in your art?
I try to capture the beauty and light of the Algarve. I am so fortunate to live in such a beautiful and charming place, with long summers and light winters; magical blue skies and sparkling seas.
I work from the landscape and primarily use my husband's photographs to inspire me. Dave is a photographer who loves the Algarve as much as I do, and this shines through his work too. Often he will come back from a shoot with a new beach or harbour for me to paint, and he is now used to having to take 'extra' shots of boats or scenes just for me!
As soon as I see a new shot I can instantly tell if it will work as one of my 'New Wave' style paintings, and as soon as I start drawing it I can 'see' the finished piece on the board - often even down to the actual colours I want to use.
Then the magic takes over and I start to paint! Once I am into a piece I will keep going with it for several days until it is finished - and then I am ready for the next one!
'Girls on the Beach' © Alyson Sheldrake - acrylic on board, size 40cm x 45cm - Original
Painted as a commission using the client's own photograph - as soon as I saw it I knew it would work well in my modern 'New Wave' style
The Algrave is such an inspiring place to live, the light is fantastic, and every time we go out exploring I find another series of views and images that need to be painted! I am usually drawn first by the light and then there has to be a boat - or a windmill - or a tree - that sets me off!
For my big bold flowers, it is always the centre of the flower that inspires me, I love the intricate designs and patterns they have, and I love creating a piece that almost seems to jump off the wall!
Dave and I have made a conscious decision to set up and run our own 'Pop-Up' galleries on the Algarve - we were invited by one of the top hotels on the Algarve to exhibit in their chain of hotels last year and we haven't looked back since.
You can view the list of exhibitions we have run via my blog here: http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/a3-art/exhibition/
And if readers are interested in how we managed this - they might be interested in reading this post http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/2012/04/25/our-first-exhibition/
'Digby' Pet Portrait © Alyson Sheldrake - acrylic on board, size 45cm x 40cm - Original
Painted as the winning prize for the 'Best in Show' at the International Algarve Fair Dog Show 2013.
How has selling your art been going?
I have been amazed since starting this journey less than two years ago that I have sold so many paintings - I currently only have 4 paintings left for sale and about 10 commissions lined up. I recently sold my 60th painting! Many sales and commissions have come through our exhibitions and word of mouth - and also through Facebook.
Art promotion on the internet
I have my own professional website which is exclusively for my art - and includes online purchasing. I actively use Facebook and Twitter, and have also found Linkedin useful for connections. I have found Google+ to be less useful so far.
I have been fortunate enough to have attended courses and classes by a couple of West Country based artists in the UK and am indebted to Judi Trevorrow and Ray Balkwill for inspiring me.
I am a huge fan of John Hammond, an acrylic painter based in the West Country. His landscapes and scenes are breathtakingly good, especially his views of Venice. His use of colour and the way he portrays sparkling light on water is incredible. I have been lucky enough to meet him, look through his sketchbooks and talk with him about his paintings, and I left that meeting totally inspired to become an artist full-time.
Tell us something interesting in your life
I started life as a Police Officer and after 13 years left for a job working in education. Within four years I had found myself as a Director of Education, responsible for 131 schools and managing a large team of staff. I still pinch myself when I look back at that time.
'On the Rocks' © Alyson Sheldrake - acrylic on board, size 34cm x 49cm - Original
A local scene of a fisherman fishing off the rocks at the end of the slipway. You often see fishermen here - but I'm not sure if they ever catch anything!
Any embarrassing moments?
Too many to mention! My grasp of the Portuguese language is woeful - which often leaves me wide-open to saying the wrong thing to someone or being rude to them without even realizing it!
If you had a chance to live your life again, would there be anything you would do different?
No - life is always too short for regrets - I believe that everything happens for a reason and leads you to the next stage of your life.
I am enjoying being able to create every day - I have a growing list of commissions which is very exciting and I am hoping to be able to spend the winter creating a new series of paintings ready for an exhibition next spring. I would love to be able to go back to the UK - especially the West Country - with a body of work to sell too, and to be able to divide my time between Portugal and the UK.
I am also enjoying the Pet Portraits I have been asked to paint and would be happy to see this area of my work expand too - I like to find out a story about the pet and try to capture something of their personality as well as a strong likeness - it's a good challenge for me.
Advice for artists
One piece of advice - if I am completing a commission for a client now, I don't send them any pictures of the work until it is finished. I made the mistake of sending a photo of a part-finished work to a client once and they didn't like it - in my head of course I can see the completed piece and know how it will turn out - but they couldn't see that - once it was finished and all the colours and design were balanced they loved it.