What are birds for you? Are they the symbol of freedom? Or perhaps they embody the person that has boundless imagination and flow of thoughts that can evoke the riot? Or just flying creatures that love the sky and the sunlight that gently warms their feathers? For Nicola Henley, they are a powerful source of inspiration. Little, though delicately detailed birds, being in their own environment are contrasting with huge, endless spaces of water in the background. Stay with us to know more!
Nicola Henley is an English painter with the Goldsmith’s Fine Art/Textiles degree and over 30 years of experience. She is famous for her style that involves movement in natural spaces. Now you understand why I asked you about birds? She depicts the movement through the flying birds.
Studying in art school in Bristol, Nicola realized that textiles art would be her future — she absolutely fell in love with this medium’s flexibility and refinement. Now her works can’t fit into one “textile art” term — the outcome is more painterly and free than traditional screen printed fabric allows. That’s exactly what we call the unique style! When you combine, mix, add, take away, and actually make magic happen.
What does the process of catching the movement look like? Firstly, Nicola has to absorb the working place and capture the essence of the location along with the birds, their behavior, and colors. Then she starts sketching to bring a more objective eye to it later. Paper is for more rough plans which will be transformed into a massive piece of art. “I like to work outdoors for the initial collection of ideas from nature – the wilder the better. The studio is a haven, somewhere to process and produce work with calm reflection. I like to work alone”, says the painter.
When it comes to the print table, Nicola uses her sketches, paints from them, and prints repeatedly, builds up the layers, irons, and washes them and re-prints again. Definitely, a long process that requires a lot of patience and determination!
Even though Nicola Henley creates a large-scale painting, she finds a sketchbook a key to all her works. “It’s a place to record, plan, and digest what I have seen and also a place to return to for more ideas at any point in the future”, explains the artist. Sketchbook allows you to be spontaneous and draw everything that comes to your mind.