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Alison Stafford

After spending 22 years in the fashion industry, Alison left a successful career to embrace her love of art – taking a ‘now or never’ attitude to becoming a fully-fledged artist. She is proud mum to two children, a son aged 13 and a daughter aged 11, and two grown-up step-children aged 23 and 25. Alison actively seeks out beautiful yet dramatic landscapes to paint, and likes to take advantage of fellow country folk for her ‘photorealist’ portraiture. In terms of her approach to her subjects, Alison believes firmly that you should “paint what you see, not what you think you see.” She loves using bright colours - finds watercolours far too bleak for her liking – and always carries a tube of magenta acrylic with her.

Q&A

I had a few recreational lessons in Acrylics after work once a week. I remember sitting at work on a Monday, watching the clock ticking till it was Wednesday and time to get to my next lesson! It was only a matter of time before I handed in my notice at work and went full time!

Probably ‘The Hunt’. It’s a large piece – 70x50 and I had wanted to paint it for 2 years before I finally got stuck in. The drag hunt passes my house a few times a year and on this particular day it was drizzling and everything was shrouded in a light mist. The scene is of the ‘whipper in’ and hounds approaching through a wood. It’s in acrylics and took me about a week to complete (on and off). It hangs in my hall way and is a real talking point for visitors!

I have had plenty of artistic disasters! Most of them were on the show! But the beauty of paint (acrylic and oil) is that if it goes wrong you can just go over it and start again! When you are under a time constraint that isn’t an option, and every painting for me is a journey – I travel through unchartered territory for 90% of every painting I do – that’s what gives me the buzz! Without that it would become too predictable and boring!

Being critiqued by Lachlan and Daphne was total torture! (you feel very exposed and vulnerable as an artist and they didn’t pull any punches!) BUT it was a complete privilege to have them offer positive critique much of which I have taken away from the experience. It has made me question everything that I do and also how I do it. I am much more expressive with my mark making and am not afraid to go back and rectify a mistake – even if it means painting over a whole area of a painting until it’s right.

Jonathon Yeo is a great inspiration in my portrait work. Freda Khalo was the first artist to really excite me with her use of bright, almost flat colour and graphic style of painting.

People and animals

Landscape or portraiture? Portraiture.

Acrylic or watercolour for painting? Acrylic.

Pencil or ink for sketching? Pencil.

Still life or life drawing? Life drawing.

Lachlan or Daphne? Lachlan.