If you are a fan of nature and beautiful jewellery then you will love our next Meet the Maker interview. Justine Nettleton, creates detailed jewellery, ceramics and cards using her colourful paintings. We just had to find out more...
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
I have been a fine art painter for the last 25 years. In the last two years I have started creating jewellery, ceramics and cards using my own designs. I am inspired by colour, plants, birds and animals. I use the colour and painted textures in my paintings to create my designs.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
I run a business called Local Magazines Ltd. I started it 7 years ago after leaving primary school teaching. I had hoped teaching would give me time to spend on my work but it didn’t so I became self-employed so I could have more control over my working hours. We produce 4 magazines every month for the local area. My husband now runs it with me. There are busy times of the month but then it is very quiet so I can crack on with my artwork and jewellery.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
When I was around 13 (back in the early 1980s) I drew a picture of the female singer from the pop band Dollar. I think it was a photo in a magazine like Smash Hits. It was rather good and I surprised and impressed myself. I took it straight through to show my parents who were still in bed. They seemed impressed though they were very supportive of anything I did which was great. I was always making clothes, drawing and making weird things after that. One thing I made that lingered around the house for years was a skeletal hand made of sticks, mud and leaves. Quite hideous.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I find colour very hypnotic. Nothing pleases me more than mixing colours and daubing them on paper and canvas. It is so relaxing and therapeutic.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I mainly paint expressive landscape. I love sunsets and unusual weather conditions. I love birds and plants. My garden is full of flowers but we haven’t persuaded many birds in yet (we live near a busy road and the pigeons are the only birds brave enough to enter). Me and my husband Keith, who is also an artist, travel around together collecting photographic images. I photograph plants and birds while he photographs lichens, marks, rust etc.
Describe your studio or workspace?
I have an art studio along with 17 other artists in an old mill in the town where I live. It is a messy space I use mainly for my painting on canvas. It doesn’t matter if paint falls on the floor. I have my tubs of paints and brushes all around me. It’s not quite as messy as Francis Bacons studio! I also have current work hanging on the walls so I can review my progress. I like to work fast so I also have a hairdryer close by to dry the paint as I go along. I produce my jewellery and design work at home. My shed is useful for spraying wood and storing all my tiles. My utility room has been taken over by my jewellery making. Pretty much every room downstairs has something of mine in it ready to complete. I call it creative clutter but my husband calls it mess! I like to be able to wander into each room and pick something up and work on it. My favourite time to produce my jewellery is very early morning or evening. I prefer to go out during the day. I don’t work any set hours and love the flexibility to do a bit here and there. If it ever feels like a job I’m not happy.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman who would it be?
I’d like to go back in time and visit an artist called Artemisia Gentileschi in the 1600s and talk to her about her experiences of being a woman artist working at a time when there were so few women artists working.
How would you describe your creative process?
My work is a mix of photography and painting. As I’m painting I keep a camera close by and photograph any little splodges of colour that interest me. They may get painted over but I keep the photographic record. I then use the photographs of the colours and textures to colour my designs. I also use a camera to photograph plants and birds that catch my eye. I incorporate these photographs into my designs.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have a small plastic horse on a shelf in my bedroom. It has been daubed by lots of different colour paints by my daughter when she was in nursery. She’s 17 now.
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
I go for a walk in the countryside with my husband. We like visiting remote places as well as National Trust properties. I particularly love gardens full of different flowers. I will just take lots of photos and review them later.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I thankfully don’t feel I have anything left to prove to myself or the world. I had an ambition to make a living from my creativity and I have now done that. I want to continue trying out new ideas and exploring my own creativity. I don’t want to get in a rut or get bogged down with ‘work’. As soon as art feels like work I won’t want to do it anymore. So I call it play. Long may it be ‘play’!
Thank you Justine! We like the idea of 'play' instead of 'work'! You can find Justine's beautiful pieces for sale in our Made in Britain shop.
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