With the launch of a brand new collection of stunning limited-edition prints by landscape artist Nicola Wakeling just around the corner, we thought now would be a great time to share some interesting information about the artist herself and her creative journey.
Revered contemporary Scottish artist Nicola Wakeling was born in Essex and moved to Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, when she was just a year old. Throughout her childhood, she visited the Outer Hebrides several times a year to visit family, where they would spend hours walking in the hills and playing on the beaches of the vast, wild landscape, regardless of the weather. It was here that her fondness for the place, and her creative inspiration began.
She says of the dramatic scenery of the West coast of Scotland “Anyone who has ever stood on a Hebridean beach will recognise the emotions that my work tries to invoke. From the vast expanse of sea and sky to the subtle colour and movement changes that come with the turning tide [...] It is the sheer scale of the landscape in Scotland that stirs me to paint. Walking on a Hebridean beach with the wind on my face, I look up at a limitless sky and feel tiny”.
Nicola displayed a proclivity for art from an early age, and cites the work of American realist painter Edward Hopper, along with Scottish artists Ken Currie and Joan Eardley as sources of both admiration and influence.
Before pursuing her career as the successful fine art landscape painter with whom we are now familiar, Nicola initially spent several years teaching Art and Design after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art with a BA (Hons). An experience which certainly seems to have helped hone her exceptional skills.
She is a master at capturing the nuances of light and shade, using the luminosity of oil paints to great effect. Of the material, she says “Oil paint is a glorious medium, it smells like you're doing something important and the strength of colour suits my subject matter”. To achieve the broad areas of cloud and smooth reflections, she uses large Japanese brushes, and adds texture by combining oil paints with wax and household paint, applied in a variety of techniques.
Nicola’s deep affection for the Outer Hebridean Isles is clear to see in her breath-taking paintings, which are at once formidable yet meditative. Her sense of space and adept handling of materials allows her to create compositions which express the stillness of nature whilst retaining its overwhelming sense of
power. Her Scottish scenes portray the very real and changeable nature of the Outer Hebridean terrain: dark brooding skies, and vast rugged seascapes, as well as still waters and light sandy beaches illuminated by sunlight piercing through tufts of white clouds.
Her creative process begins with a research trip; usually a multiple hour all-weather walk along the West Coast of Scotland (her “happy place”), taking photographs and immersing herself in the landscape, connecting with the environment, and experiencing the sun, rain, hail, and wind. Nicola marvels at the transformative effect of light throughout the changing seasons and prefers the “miserable” days as they offer more interesting cloud formations: “I'm looking out for the way the light changes as the wind skiffs clouds overhead. The colours are constantly changing as light hits a particular area of sand or the way the sky is reflected in the water. Ideally, I gather material just after the tide has gone out and there is a layer of water that reflects the sky and this can be manipulated to create a sense of space”.
Recently, Nicola took part in a study looking at the role of landscape painting in promoting nature connectedness, which she said raised some interesting questions “not only about my own practice but also made me consider the effect it had on the viewer”.
As well as the imminent launch of her new collection of limited-edition prints, we also offer an assortment of exceptionally well observed original paintings by Nicola Wakeling. Head over to our online gallery to browse and buy from her current collection.