Jennifer Bell works from her home studio in the Durham Dales.
Jennifer painting Bisque 2007
I first started painting plates as a hobby in my school holidays in 1984. I was bored & my Mam suggested that I paint but I didn't want to as I could not afford frames for my oil paintings so they just laid about in a draw. While out shopping we saw a Baby Plate which gave me the idea to paint plates as they did not need frames. So I found some old plates in the shed & I was away.1985 - Plate inspired by an old victorian black & white photograph.My first paintings were inspired by old black & white photos which I enjoyed bringing to life in colour. After spending many years walking in the countryside my designs were also inspired by my love of the wild flowers & the countryside around the river Wear in County Durham. I continued with my hobby while attending art college.Pen Studies of wild HoneysuckleAfter college I got a job in Halifax at a small design company. I worked a lot on Umbro designs even though I had never liked sport. I loved the job but missed living in the North East. A few years passed & I got made redundant when the company was took over so I came home. I had a couple of jobs which were a bit of a come down designing for the local bingo, Takeaways etc. instead of big companies. I got made redundant for the second time & so I decided to start my own business.But days later I was offered freelance work in Hull for clients like Uncle Ben's & Asda. I enjoyed the work & they soon offered me a permanent position. But I just could not face the thought of working away from home again in an office every day & I thought while I was young I wanted to try & make a go of my own business.In 1995 me & my sister started sharing a stall on Durham Indoor Market. I painted my oils onto plates & an old man would pass by & say to me "You should try On-glaze China painting." I did not know anything about On-glazes or proper pottery painting. Every time he passed he would tell me off for not painting with the proper china paints until one day he said he had a Kiln for sale. I decided to buy it off him & he also gave me some paints to get me started. I did not really know what I was doing but I soon got the hang of it, other China painters would ask me how many times did I fire the China & they were always shocked when I said once. They had recieved lessons on how to layer the painting. They painted, then fired. then painted, again & again to build up the colours. I had never had a lesson so I just went ahead my own way which always worked for me. I did not have time to mess around with multiple firing I was in business!But sales on the market were not always great & a lady would often pass by & repeatedly say to me "you would do better at the craft fairs". So I tried a few craft shows & I found that I sold more in one day than I did all week at the market so I left the market in 1997.I was doing well at the shows & galleries but I began to get a aching hand because the slip-trailing technique I used meant I was constantly having to applying pressure to a piping bag with a 0.5 mm hole. Hand painting everything had become a strain on my hands, eyes & time. I remember after my second daughter was born & I was sat feeding her on my knee trying to draw out egg cups while on the phone to a gallery who where complaining they had not had their order. The last straw came when we appeared in Country Living magazine & we were inundated with orders for a hand painted mug. I just could not keep up so I decided our only option was to start a printed range of gifts to compliment the hand made ceramics.So in 2011 I started adding printed gifts to our range. They are printed from my original paintings & I am really enjoying being able to spend more time on detailed countryside paintings. I also get t mess about on the computer which is what I missed the most from my days as a Graphic Designer. The options that have opened up since I have been able to make & print a larger variety of gifts is very exciting & interesting. After years of saying no to supplying shops & galleries & no to advertising I am now able to say yes which makes a nice change!Me & my piping bag. June 2015See how they've changed.My style & techniques of painting is constantly changing over the years as you can see from the photos below.
Poppy Jug 2012 Poppy Jug 2013 Poppy Jug 2015 Hedgehog Jug 2010 Hedgehog Jug 2014 Hedgehog Jug 2016
Barn Owl 2011 Barn Owl 2013 Barn owl 2016 Blue Tit 2011 Blue Tit 2014 Blue Tit Jug 2015 Sunflowers 2011 Sunflowers 2013 Sunflowers 2016 Cat 2009 CAT 2011 Cat 2016 Buttercups 2011 Buttercups 2012 Buttercups 2015 Bird on Fence 2008 Bird on Fence 2012 Bird on Fence 2015