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Artist Profile: Sheila Ottley interview by Lisamarie Lamb


From beautiful Kent to historical Venice, Sheila Ottley finds her inspiration in the world around her. For her, art is about life and about making the viewer experience something remarkable when they look at her work. It’s a concept that never fails to bring forth something stunning.

What inspires your art?

Without doubt, life and light. The world around me and the things I see that create emotions are the reasons why I would choose life as an inspiration. Light inspires my art as it constantly changes the mood of a chosen subject throughout the day and varying seasons.

But inspiration alone will not produce a good painting, as that requires hard work with the help of my sketchbook and photographs. Research and experimenting is also essential.

What is your favourite piece so far?  

With the work and effort that goes into art, I have become attached to many of my paintings, but one of my favourites is the Tiergarten – a wonderful place in the heart of Berlin where people go to meet and relax.

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Is there any subject matter you would love to paint but haven’t yet? 

I will never stop finding inspiration in Venice and I still have much I want to paint in this city.

I have lived in Kent for 45 years and the county offers so many subjects for an artist. I have many favourite painting locations which I will continue to revisit including Whitstable, Faversham, and my local Footscray meadows.

How has your work changed over time? 

I used to work alone in my attic studio but now I supplement this by belonging to Sidcup Art Club, a great place to share ideas with others.

I am spending less time in the studio and more time painting plein aire. I love painting outside with my subject using oil paints and a palette knife. In this setting my style is looser, while I experience the challenge of working with the changing light and elements.

You’ve said you like to work on more than one painting at a time; how does that help your creative process? 

It focuses my eye. I find working on a painting for a couple of hours in one sitting is enough. Any more and I will overwork the painting.

This is the time when I will put the work to one side and bring out another. When I return to the first painting with fresh eyes it is much easier to resolve the earlier problems immediately.     

You paint a combination of landscape, portrait, still life, and figurative works; if you could only paint one type from now on, what would you choose? 

I could never make a choice as they all reflect life around me as a whole. However I do draw and paint a life model every week.

For me this is imperative to keep my eye trained for the rest of my artwork. I thoroughly enjoy and am influenced by working with many talented people at the life drawing. 

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Where can we see your work?

You can see an exhibition of my paintings at:

Capital Art Gallery, 13 Well Hall Parade, Eltham SE9 6SP

November 30th to December 5th 2015 Mon-Sat 10-4

Meet the artist December 5th 2015 10am-4pm


Some examples of my work will be at the Whatif Gallery Christmas Fair:

Whatif Gallery, 67-69 High Street, Dartford DA1 1DJ

November 16th to December 31st 2015

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