Tell us about your cover.
My style is always heavy black lines, colours and a lot of patterns. I wanted to try and represent all the different layers of what mountains mean to me. So you’ve got the colours of sunset and sunrise, snow and water elements, and winter and summer (encompassed by the green and the leaves). I think people often see the mountains as one thing, especially if they’re only here for half the year. And I wanted to show all the different ways that I see the mountains living here year round. I used to be a botanical artist, so I wanted to include some references to that, which is why the Aster flowers are there in the foreground. You can find them here during the summer, so they are also representative of this region. Last but not least, the Eye of the Needle of course represents Tignes.
How did you get into botanical art?
Painting plants and wildlife is really important to me. It started out when I was annotating my notes for my permaculture and horticulture courses, and soon people started asking me for commissions. So I was trying to apply my natural drawing style to the proper botanical anatomically-correct method.
Do you think your love of plants stems from your Scottish roots?
Actually no, I think it developed more from travelling quite young. I’ve been to a lot of places over the last 12 years. And I think that really influenced my love of nature because I spent a lot of time outside, hiking. I started volunteer farming and then decided to study sustainable horticulture. So my appreciation grew from there and culminated in me starting to make natural skincare products through my business Pepper and Quill. It’s my way of trying to tie in all 3 of my big passions; food, skincare and art.
And is painting on a large scale your modusperandi?
When I was in New Zealand, I was painting murals and commissioned artworks and I got given this really awesome opportunity to do a couple of commissions on wood, which is a medium I really enjoy using. I did a couple of murals recently on the side of a friend’s outdoor swimming pool, which was cool. It’s just finding the time to paint more. It was really nice doing this project because it’s easy to get lost in the work/social/skiing grind and not make time for art, but having a project to focus on was great.
You did it so quickly!
Yeah, I did it in one day. I got too excited- it was my day off and then I started drawing and couldn’t stop. And before I knew it, I’d finished it and was like, “Well now I don’t have a project anymore!”. But it was super fun; I had the best day!
We’ve just spotted the pepper pot on your arm. Does your chef life inspire many of your tattoos?
No and that one actually has nothing to do with cooking! I got it because my nickname for my best friend is Pepper. But as soon as I had it done, someone asked if it was because I work in a kitchen and it only then dawned on me that everyone would think that’s why I got it.
Do you design any of your tattoos?
I have done a few of them. Like the one on my wrist; me, my mum and my best friend all have the same one. It was actually pretty funny- my mum only got it because she thought I’d say no and then I booked her in and she was like a stubborn kid. So it was a standoff tattoo in a way! And when she’d had it done, she refused to tell her mum (my grandma) and still hides it from her.
Do you come from an artistic family?
Yes. My mum used to paint as a hobby, but she stopped, which is such a shame because she was very good. My dad was really into photography before he passed away. I’ve actually got his old analogue camera with me this year, so I’ve been out taking pictures with it. There was a reel of film in the bag that never got developed, so we’re sending it off. My partner Lucas said the other day, “Do you not think that whenever you take a photo, your dad sees it”, which was so beautiful. But I had just taken a picture of his bum, so I hope not!
You mentioned travelling a lot- is there art equipment that you make sure you always have with you?
I drove over to Tignes this year so I’m lucky to have every possible art supply I could need right now. But generally, I always have to have a watercolour palette, paper and my liner pens. It’s something that’s quite important for me to have because I find drawing and painting so therapeutic. Especially when I was travelling by myself. Personally, I’d rather draw than read and it’ll keep me happy all day. And it’s cool to have a visual representation of my surroundings melded with what was going on in my head that day.