Bea Roberts speaks about falling in love with art at Butlins and why Nottingham and 'outsider art' inspires her!

by Poppy Rooney

Bea Roberts' weird and wonderful paintings of animated creatures are a beautiful fusion of fantasy and the figure. Her journey as an artist has been a colourful one, first discovering her love of art at a Butlins holiday camp!

Bea speaks exclusively to Artfinder about her inspiration, her increasing confidence in her work and explains how she has made a success of Artfinder! Read on to learn more...

On becoming an artist: drawing and cutting out whilst still in the pram

“I haven’t always worked as a fine artist. I studied a degree in fashion and knitwear design at Nottingham Trent University and started my working life writing knitting patterns for knitting magazines and yarn companies. I did this for a number of years until the kids came along and then when they were older I decided I wanted to do something artistic again.

My family always joke that I was drawing and cutting out whilst still in the pram. I can remember wanting to be an artist from around the age of 9 or 10 years old. Around this age I went on holiday to Butlins where I saw some pastel portrait artists… from this moment on I was transfixed!

While Mum and Dad went about their holiday, I remember watching the artists for hours. Other kids of that age went to the fairground or did activities, I would just disappear and watch the artists.”

'I Am Not A Frog' by Bea Roberts

On being an artist: a square peg in a round hole

“Being an artist means taking the rough with the smooth. You’re not always selling and there’s plenty of rejection to contend with. I have called myself a fine artist since 2000, when I started painting seriously to make a living.

I was like a square peg in a round hole when growing up, so when I found art I felt like I had found my place. Many years down the line, I still feel that if I didn’t practice art I would feel incomplete.”

'Cat with Golden Wings' by Bea Roberts

On the studio

“My studio is the upper floor of my house. I share it with my partner who is also an artist and illustrator. Although it is quite a large space, it’s often cramped with two of us working in it, and both of our equipment and materials cluttering up the place. I would love a studio that is separate to the house – I think we both would!”

Bea Roberts at work in her studio

On inspiration: ‘outsider art’, art that is raw, childlike and expressive

“I visit as many exhibitions as I can, which both inspires me but also makes me judge my own work. This is something I am working on: having more confidence in myself and my artwork.

I am very drawn to ‘outsider art’, art that is raw, childlike and expressive.

Three years ago I got the chance to move back to Nottingham. Some people thought I had lost my mind moving back to the hustle bustle in my mid fifties, but it was the best thing I ever did. I went to university here, I loved the place then as I do now. I am constantly inspired by the buzz of city life; Nottingham is a thriving city with galleries, theatres, film, and many vibrant artist communities.”

'Starry Night' by Bea Roberts

On challenges: people who ask when you'll get a 'proper job'

“Being an artist is not an easy course to follow. There’s the uncertainty of being able to sell enough to pay the bills, the frequent rejection when you submit to galleries, publishers and exhibitions, people who don’t take you seriously and ask you when you’re going to get a ‘proper job’.

On the other hand being self-employed, I have the freedom to plan my own schedule, I don’t have the hassle of commuting because I work from home whenever I feel like it.”

On role models: working class kids were expected to leave school early, get a job, then ‘settle down and have kids’

“My partner is my role model. He scooped me up during a very dark phase of my life when I was, frankly, a mess. He got my head straight and restored my faith in human nature; he is my rock, and incredibly supportive of everything I do. As well as being kindness personified, he is also a brilliant illustrator and I wish I had half his talent!

My late Father was also a great role model. He encouraged me to follow my dreams even though working class kids were expected to leave school early, get a job, then ‘settle down and have kids’. He bought me as much art equipment and materials as he could afford and encouraged me to go to university and pursue art.”

'New Dancing Dress' by Bea Roberts

On life: "I have the freedom to do exactly what I want..."

“My life has been a bit of a roller coaster, so now I take each day as it comes. I’m a little old to plan for the future, so I am grateful for every day that I have my health and the freedom to do exactly what I want… a luxury many people don’t have.

I tend not to follow advice any more - there’s always someone who will give you contradictory advice. I am a Pisces - two fish swimming in opposite directions - so I tend to find it difficult to make decisions.

The only advice that I do take any notice of is my partner’s.”

'One, Two, Three' by Bea Roberts

On Artfinder: "I have been on Artfinder for 3 years now and thankfully have had many sales!"

“What is brilliant about Artfinder is that it is not just a website; there are real people at the end of the phone to give help and advice if required.

When I first joined I had lots of questions and the support team were incredibly helpful and supportive – they still are. I have been on Artfinder for 3 years now and thankfully have had many sales!

As mentioned, I create artwork in different genres. When I explained this to Artfinder, they set up different collections for me within my shop, so I could place different bodies of work separately. This has worked brilliantly for me.”

On the future: "I like to get myself out there"

“I have exhibited a number of times over the past few years, and last year was asked to complete the challenge of painting a mural.

My latest exhibition was at Surface Gallery as part of the Street Art Festival in Nottingham. I have two exhibitions planned in 2017 at the Lace Market Theatre and Focus Gallery in Nottingham.

I always submit to various open exhibitions when they come up too in order to get myself ‘out there’. Apart from this I always have works available at A Room Full Of Butterflies in Sherwood, Nottingham.”

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