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Roseanna Chetwood


meet the maker - CRAFT COOP INTERVIEW 2019

What do you make?

I specialise in capturing beloved pets on canvas. I apply oil paint using palette knives to create a bold, sculptural surface of thick paint. The result is a fresh and modern style of pet portrait. My paintings are also printed on a range of ‘palette knife pet’ products; greeting cards, magnets, tote bags, framed mini prints and cushions.

When did you first join Craft Coop?

I first joined the Craft Coop in March 2019 in the High Wycombe shop in the Eden centre when it was situated next to House of Fraser.

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?

My name is Roseanna Chetwood and I am a palette knife artist. I graduated in Fine Art from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) in 2013. My educational practice was primarily sculpture and I painted in oil with paint brushes during my spare time. Currently, I live and work from my studio in High Wycombe and I’ve been painting with palette knives in my current style for about three years.

Tell us a bit about your background. Have you always been creative? Did you have some other job before you became a crafter?

I was born and raised in Maidenhead, studied my Art foundation year in High Wycombe at Bucks New Uni and moved to Birmingham for my three years of training with BIAD during my Fine Art degree. I work full time in a secondary school in Maidenhead as a Design & Marketing Officer, which is a fancy term for Admin Assistant who wouldn’t stop drawing. I have always been creative, people gravitate towards the things they are good at in life and so being creative has always been a large part of my identity.

How and when did you learn your craft?

I traded my paint brushes in for palette knives in 2017. I taught myself how to use palette knives through practice and experimentation but my background and training in art has spanned over my lifetime. This swap to palette knives signified a pivotal point in my art practice which I feel has allowed me to find my own style, which is uniquely mine.

So what happened? How did you move from….. To becoming a crafter?

From leaving university and going into full time employment my art practice took a bit of a back seat. I still painted in my spare time but my technique applying oil paint with paint brushes was very time consuming, so the volume of work I made declined drastically over the first 4 years of full employment and my art career waned. My development from paintbrushes to palette knives loosened my style and allowed me to increase my speed. This enabled me to continue my art practice in a way that could run alongside my full time employment and it began to flourish.

How did you go from making your product as a hobby to selling it in a shop?

It is a gradual development, going from ‘amateur’ to professional, s­o it is hard to pin point exactly when that change happened. However, a few pivotal steps took my artwork and me to a more professional level. I sold my first painting by taking part in a local art fair called Art on the Street in Maidenhead back in 2011, this was an easy introduction to the art fair scene as all I had to do was provide the artwork and try out my rusty sales skills. I exhibited and sold paintings in a London gallery through an open call to artists in 2016. I built up my following on Instagram by setting myself the target of posting every day and running online competitions, this led to me selling internationally (mainly to the USA and Canada). I had known about the Craft Coop shop for a little while from when I lived in Maidenhead, so when I noticed it had moved to High Wycombe I jumped at the chance to join through their open call for new artists. Selling in Craft Coop has allowed me to take the next step on the ‘professional’ road; I now have gained valuable experience in creating and selling products to a high street audience.

What was your favourite piece to make?

My palette knife paintings are at the heart of my art practice and are my favourite thing to make. However, if I were to narrow it down I have a few memorable paintings which are favourites of mine. I have painted a boxer called Lillian which I have a soft spot for and she fronts my online presence as my icon for my social media.

What’s unique about what you make?

Many artists that specialise in pet portraits but most are done in watercolours, pencils or painted with paintbrushes; so painting pets using palette knives is quite niche. Add to that my style to use bold colours and layer the oil paint up thickly on the surface and the result is a unique pet portrait, which is instantly recognisable as one of my paintings.

Where do you source your materials from?

I source my canvases from Hobbycraft, my oil paints from Cass Art online, my frames from Easyframe online and my printed products through Awesome Merchandise. I try to source my materials from companies based in the UK.

Talk me through a typical day, especially how you juggle being a parent and or another job with running a business.

I juggle my art practice around a full time job so my art career has to fit in my weekday evenings and weekends. So the speed at which I can make a paintings is an important factor. Palette knives lend themselves nicely to increasing the freedom and flow of a painting as they prevent you narrowing in on fiddly details and instead focus you on the composition as a whole. My main painting hours are weekday evenings 7pm up until 12pm and weekends if they are free. At weekends, I also fit in shop shifts in at the Craft Coop shop and Art fairs. In between commissions, I dedicate my time to art admin, which also takes up a lot of time. My time on my art career is split three ways, 10% physically selling my art, 50% on art admin and 40% actually painting!

What inspires you?

The real fun for me is playing with pushing and scraping the paint around on the canvas surface. Being able to see the construction of a painting and then stepping back to see the composition come together - that's the unique magic of a painting.

Where do you typically make your products? Do you have a studio?

I paint all of my paintings from my home studio in High Wycombe, which I converted from a spare bedroom in the house. My current art studio has bright ochre feature walls with blue wooden furnishings, a shelf with hanging paints and most notably a wall of dog paintings staring at me from across the room.

Tell us something people might not already know about you

For as long as I can remember my love of painting has just been a part of who I am. I was raised by parents who both shared a mutual love of art, so this meant from a young age I was always wandering around the London art galleries with them. On these visits I remember finding myself gravitating to the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, with their exquisite brushwork and vibrant colours. Emulating Vincent’s signature I sign all my own artwork with my first name, this is a bit of a relic from my paintings as a child but now serves a little tribute to my love of Vincent Van Gogh’s work.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in crafting?

If you, like most people, have to work full or part time to support yourself and your family then the single biggest factor to growing a career in crafting is making it time efficient. You need to be able to find a way to create more so that you can develop and improve through practice. You also need to build up a body of work so that customers can see you are serious and that you are experienced in your field. This might mean experimenting with changing your technique or style or if the craft you want to focus on is naturally time-consuming start by creating small pieces, which do not take so long. My second piece of advice is to focus on a niche and be the best at it. The more specific and unique the better. If you don’t do this everyone else will be as confused about your art/craft practice as you are and that mustn’t happen! I think these are crucial factors in the beginning when you are starting out, but as you develop and grow, you might find you can dedicate more of your time to your crafting practice and branch out.

What is the achievement you’re most proud of?

Graduating from university with a 1st class honours degree in Fine Art . I was proud to be part of the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design and the 125 year history of the institute developing budding artists.

What is your first memory of Craft Coop?

My first memory of Craft Coop is visiting it in my childhood town of Maidenhead and thinking what a friendly place it was compared to the other shops.

Why did you decided to sell in Craft Coop?

I had it in the back of my mind that it was something I wanted to try for a number of years. I kept making excuses and putting it off but then it moved into my home town of High Wycombe. I knew if I didn’t join it then I never would - so I took the leap! By this point it was almost a 10 year old enterprise so that also gave me confidence that it was well established.

What’s exciting about selling your work at Craft Coop?

Everytime I go into town I can see my products and my artwork on display. It isn’t hidden away but is in front of thousands of people who come in and out of the shop every day. Now if that isn’t exciting I don’t know what is!

What does the Coop give you that another outlet wouldnt?

Being an artist is just such an exciting journey, in fact it’s the most interesting thing about me. So Craft Coop is another experience I can add to my journey. Before Craft Coop I had no experience of working in retail. Now I’ve seen a window in the behind the scenes of how to run a shop on the High Street. I get to network with a lot of other local artists who happily share their wealth of experience and advice. And I hear Christmas sales are legendary - can’t wait for my first one!

And finally …. Do you have any Coop memories or stories?

While I was doing a live painting demo in the shop I had my first encounter with another person (outside of my family) who shared my surname, my surname is Chewood which is very unusual. But the similarities didn’t end there, we both discovered we lived in High Wycombe, were born in the same hospital and both had a dog called Woody… spooky!!


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