A masterclass on how to be a successful artist

The Mead School in Tunbridge Wells gave a professional level performance in the  ISA drama contests

Dani Humberstone is a full-time artist based at the WING Gallery in Wadhurst. She tells Eileen Leahy about her work, her famous clients and her role within the Society of Women Artists ahead of their annual exhibition in London next month

So Dani, what do you enjoy most about painting?

The challenge of creating a work on a flat canvas or surface, or the ‘craft’ of making a painting if you like. It is hard work – it’s hugely concentrated and demands 100 per cent of your attention.

Do you specialise in one particular subject matter?

These days I tend to specialise in still life – predominantly fruits. Like most artists, I have tried pretty much everything, and I still enjoy sketching and life drawing. For several years I earned a living as an abstract painter, but now I find that fruit is a useful subject symbolically which is used a lot in language and imagery, with phrases such as ‘the big apple’ or ‘pear shaped’. It is always revelant

Do you work in any other artistic mediums?

I mainly work in oils as you just can’t beat the depth of colour, richness of tone and subtlety. But I still enjoy watercolours, pastels for drawing or working quickly, and I still use acrylics in abstract work, which I only really do as commissions now.

How often do you exhibit your work?

As much as possible! I have a few excellent galleries who support me, including West End House in Smarden, who I show with at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea and Hampstead. I’m also present at the Mall Galleries with the Society of Women Artists, and every now and again I have a piece of my work included at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

Do you have any famous collectors of your work?

I have a few famous clients, local chef Rosemary Shrager being one, along with Adam Hargreaves (who took over from his father Roger as writer and artist of the Mr Men and Little Miss books). Former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens is also a fan, in addition to a couple of other famous people but they are a bit shy about being namechecked.

Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with the Society of Women Artists [SWA]?

I have been a full member of the SWA since 2014, first as a council member and then in the role of Vice-President since 2016. The society is 157 years old this year, and was originally set up so that women artists could exhibit their work in a time when showing alongside men would have been unthinkable. Don’t forget that John Ruskin’s famous comment that ‘women couldn’t paint’ would have still been ringing in their ears

How does the society benefit female artists?

It has moved with the times and continues to be a ‘modern tradition’ – contemporary in its thinking but still working to promote and support some of the country’s finest women artists. It also runs a young people’s initiative aimed at helping young and/or newly emerging artists get on the next step of the ladder.

What do you enjoy most about your involvement?

It is a lot of work, but I really enjoy seeing the variety of art submitted to the society every year for its annual exhibition in September. The council – or organising committee – are also a fantastic group of people, but above all it’s fun! I think it’s also probably good for me to come out from behind the easel every now and again and think about something other than where I’ll find the perfect pomegranate, apple, pear or fig…

The Society of Women’s Artists’ annual exhibition is at the Mall Galleries in London from September 25-30. See www.society-women-artists.org.uk

To find out more about Dani and her work, visit www.danihumberstoneart.com


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