Creator of colourful and dynamic wildlife paintings, Bev Horsley, finds inspiration in the beautiful Shropshire countryside which she now calls home. Bev, however, was originally from South Africa where she trained in graphic design and illustration before moving to London. There she worked for many years as an Art Director in advertising, and in the late 90s she decided to make the move to rural West Midlands with her two small children to a beautiful 1850s farmhouse, surrounded by fields filled with cows and sheep.
Bev praises the glorious Shropshire countryside and its wildlife with focusing her art on the natural world “I particularly love to paint vibrant, often quirky portraits of animals and birds - domestic, farm, and occasionally wild - paying a lot of attention to the details that give my subjects life and character.”
This is particularly evident in eye-catching original painting Minnie the Moocher, which centres on a curious white goat - head tilted in a typically inquisitive manner - punctuated with a beautifully textured red background formed from bold and brisk brushstrokes, and embellished with ochre splashes of paint.
She creates her colourful compositions using a variety of media including watercolour, acrylic, and occasionally oil paints, as well as pastels and collage. Bev will also make use of an assortment of both traditional and unconventional tools, from paintbrushes (both ends!) and fingers, to sandpaper, bamboo sticks, and feathers in the process of creating her paintings.
Colour plays an important role in forming her unique and lively painting style; mark making in a loose manner, as if the subjects are finding their forms through her chosen medium. She says “Colour is my inspiration and forms the basis of my practice exploring form, light, texture and above all those crucial details which bring a painting to life”. Indeed, her dynamic way of capturing light and structure adds to the sense of character and spirit in her illustrations, perfectly demonstrated in paintings such as Zebra Walk and Calico.
Bev’s creativity also extends beyond the canvas and into the musical arena - playing the saxophone with a quartet and jazz band - as well as the natural world. She was even awarded the Gardenista Considered Design Awards Best UK Amateur Garden award in 2017 for ‘An Artist’s Farmhouse Country Garden’ in her Shrewsbury home. Of Bev’s horticultural design judge Rita Konig, said: “I think this is a really pretty garden; I love the black tomatoes, the roses, the pond, those daisies in the paving. It is really very pretty and English”. Her artistic inclination for creating interesting views, textures, and making use of lush vibrant colour was perfectly translated in her landscape layout, about which Bev said “As an artist, I try to create views, textures, and gorgeous colour.”
Whilst she is most known for her characterful wildlife depictions, Bev also likes to create semi-abstract experimental landscapes (having recently discovered oil paint and cold wax), still life, and life drawings. In fact, in 2015, she won the WHSmith Big Painting Challenge: Human Form competition and, during Covid, she started painting portraits with the Sky Arts weekly portrait session, which included NHS staff portraits.
Bev continues to regularly attends portrait painting days at the English Bridge Workshop in Shrewsbury and, in June last year, she even presented comedian and Taskmaster frontman, Greg Davies, with a portrait which she had painted of the star when he unveiled the new facilities at Edstaston village hall (for which she is committee chair) following a major community project.
Such is her passion for experimentation, she often combines her life drawings with animal studies to form “a complex layered amalgam of human and animal”.
Head over to our online gallery to browse our full range of bold, vibrant, and energetic original paintings by Bev Horsley.