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Wildlife Artist and Illustrator Jina Gelder

A graduate of the University of Cumbria in 2011, Jina Gelder has spent the past year working on freelance illustration projects, with a primary focus on establishing herself as an artist.

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‘If I’m honest I felt I’d lost something during the course and struggled to come up with a style I was happy with. After graduating I spent some time getting back into painting, experimenting and generally making a mess. I’ve always preferred traditional medium to using computers (although I couldn’t be without my imac) and the first thing I painted was a fox cub. At the time I thought he looked quite good so I thought I would produce a body of work and try my luck at a local craft fair to see the public reaction to my work. I was selling my originals at £50 which flew and the following month I was in my first gallery. Ever since then it has been a snowball of a ride and my business and portfolio have grown substantially. Recently I have moved into my first studio that doesn’t involve me taking over the spare room in the house!

Working in watercolours is something I never thought I would do. I always hated them. However, my Uncle Trevor left me with enough to last me until I am 60 so I used to use them for applying quick colour in my sketch books. Using them over ink I find I have found my niche as the ink provides a frame work and allows me to work as quickly as possible with the watercolours to create a sense of movement and life. For the ink I apply it through dry brushing using hogs hair brushes or other synthetic cheaper alternatives. During my classes I stress that I rarely clean my ink brushes as they create much more distinctive marks if I don’t although the horrified looks I get are always amusing, I assure you I take much better care of my watercolour brushes.’

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‘In terms of influences I would say that without my Uncle Trevor I probably wouldn’t have been working in watercolours today and in terms of other artists I am a massive fan of Catherine Rayner whose picture books are stunning and Chris Riddell whose ink illustrations I used to copy from the Edge Chronicles as a child. I love exploring new art and illustration and I also like to learn new techniques.

Recently I took a course with the talented Rebecca Vincent on mono-type printing and it was wonderful to learn something new, though I am at the early stages of seeing if I can marry my style with mono-typed backgrounds. Currently I am working on the Christmas rush which involves a lot of robins, a new set of the ever sought after hares and other British wildlife which tends to be the most popular work I do. I seem to have gotten incredibly busy this year and I dispute regularly with my friends who think working for yourself must be easy. However I love being engrossed in my work and I adore commissions which allow me to paint something new which I probably wouldn’t paint on a regular basis.

My latest paintings are a couple of ducklings swimming in water and a wren but on the drawing boards I have more hares, some sleepy otters, a red kite, a disgruntled peregrine falcon and an owl. I like to have several prepped paintings to choose from on the day to keep my own interest peaked and if I am stressed I love to paint birds as it is almost like a jigsaw and painting each individual feather gives me a sense of calm that art has always been to me throughout my life.’

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