Painting Venice, Modelling for Euan Uglow, and Travelling the World: Zoe Webster Shares her Artistic Journey so far.

In one sentence tell us what you do.

I’m an impressionist artist who loves to travel and paint what I see.

At what age did you realise you wanted to be an artist?

Early on, probably around seven or eight. My mum was an artist, my dad was a musician, so we always had works of art in the house.

What medium did you play with at that time?

Pencil, then I got into pen and ink. My mum was very art nouveau, that kind of style, and I got into that at first. When I joined my uncle in his gallery he asked me to paint for him in oils as they sold better and didn’t loose their lustre or colour; that is when I got into oils.

I attended Chelsea School of Art, to study for my diploma. Here I experimented with many different mediums and styles. This is when I discovered oil colour and never looked back! 

How do you look back on your time at the Chelsea College of Art?

If I can remember it! It was fantastic; I learnt a lot of different ways of doing different things. You had a lot of different people that were experimenting. We weren’t put in a box, you would go in at ten o’clock, signed your name, have a brief which lasted two weeks and off you went. We had access to all the museums and exhibitions of London; it was fantastic being allowed to do what you want.

Poppy Field

What was your thing when you were there?

I did veer towards graphic design, but it became too graphic and I didn’t want to get into computers or sit in an office, what I really wanted to do was fine art. I applied at Lime Grove for a mural design course when I finished at Chelsea and funnily enough I was the only one they didn’t accept as they couldn’t tie me down. In a way that was good because I went off an was able to work elsewhere and join different galleries.

You had a friendship with Euan Uglow, how did this influence your painting and your influence as an artist?

He influenced me in many ways. I went to Chelsea for an interview and had a reference from Euan and they fell over backwards; it was like having a reference from Francis Bacon or someone like that. I also used to sit with him and study still life and it was like sitting with a master because he was amazing. Whilst I was modelling for him I would watch him paint, so I got to see a master at work. All we talked about was art, and he would take me to private views with him where he would take drinks from the men and give them to me. I have quite a lot of cards which he used to send to me saying ‘the best model,’ etc. I was in that arty field; when you are around that world that’s the stuff you pick up on.

What was it about his painting style which stuck with you?

It was linear, and his work was very, very true.

At Chelsea, we could do what we wanted, but we studied still life every morning for at least an hour, so although we were allowed to have free reign we had to be good at drawing, Chelsea was known for getting down to basics. You could go off and paint what you wanted, but you needed to be able to see and draw properly and not just do whatever. We were structured and disciplined, Euan gave me that, he made me study, look, and see that (the subject) is what it is, there is nothing else that there is.

Your paintings are formally quite accurate and contain almost a pointillist mottled application of paint, what are you trying to achieve when you paint your scenes and how do you find this technique to serve your subjects?

Well, funnily enough whenever I paint a picture I always look at it in a mirror because that makes sense to me. I want it to be munchy, which is my word for it. Munchy, like you can almost feel it. The colours are so amazing in some scenes, I went to Venice and I saw skies and never thought I could capture them and then I had an exhibition and a guy came in and he said I have been to Venice and had never seen anyone capture the light there like I had. Trying to capture that light with colour is what I do. I also use Linseed oil I don’t use wax spirit, because I want it to be shiny and as textured as I can, I want to draw you in rather than have a flat piece of canvas.

Some paintings are more textured than others, but the less textured work is more coloured. I love Turner; I could sit and look at his work all day, but then I still have that kind of graphic style. I try to keep it a bit real, but with colour and abstract overtones.

You have painted many landscapes of fields in bloom, outdoor landscapes and Venice, what is it about these subjects that resonate with you?

The light, the colour, the piece, the feeling and it’s awesome how you look around and see all these colours. I did a picture of London, a very, very technical painting of the bridges with the skyline, and yet painting the sky was completely different to the technicality of the buildings, so what I like about Venetian scenes and poppy fields is you don’t have to be so technical sometimes, you can just go with the flow a bit and feel that painting. It’s not to say that I don’t paint buildings, but they probably won’t be correct graphically, even though I can do that.

So, you allow yourself to go more into the emotion of the colour and the mood?

Exactly. It’s why I like impressionism.

What is next for Zoe Webster?

Fame, fortune, all my shows selling out! I’d like to be a triangle; to paint, to travel, and to exhibit and sell.

So, travelling is important to you?

Yes, because how else do you see? You see people, you see different trends, different ways of being, I went to Morocco and oh my goodness; it gives me goose bumps, the smells, the sounds, the market, Marrakesh is only an hour flight from London and I felt like I was in a completely different world. That kind of thing can evoke stuff and I want to make people feel that same feeling that is lovely, and make you go wow! To look at paintings and get lost in them, with nice colours; that makes me feel good. 

Zoe will be exhibiting his paintings in Focus LDN's Winter Exhibition this December 13th - 17th at the Menier Gallery in London Bridge.