Behind the Easel with Cher Deaville

Behind the Easel with Cher Deaville

Cher’s work is bold and beautiful yet subtle and intricate. Her love of florals resonates with me, and her current work which uses thin layers of watercolour is really something special. In this conversation, Cher shares how she works, her inspiration and why she once put a vase of flowers in the oven! She’s currently exhibiting at the Manchester Art Fair where you can see her, and her work, in person. Grab a cuppa; I think you’re going to enjoy this one…


1/ For anyone who is new to your art, please can you describe your work?

My work is abstract expressionist style. I use mixed media on canvas, mainly acrylic, and at the moment I am using thin washes of paint like watercolour. My work is very emotional to me, built up on a series of really thin layers. I am enjoying exploring loose florals, gestural brushstrokes and gentle line work. 

2/ Can you tell us a little more about your journey to becoming an artist?

I come from a legal background and I studied Law at the University of Leeds. It is worlds apart from my life now as a full time artist. After having children, it all started with a secret studio space hidden at the top floor of my house. It was a way for me to get to know myself again, away from all the distractions of life. I’ve not looked back since then, I love my job so much and I feel so lucky to have the time and space to create what really matters to me. 

3/ Where do you find inspiration? 

I resisted the temptation for a long time, but I am now delving deep into my exploration of flowers. I have always loved florals, the colours, the organic shapes, the connotations with beauty. Fresh flowers in the home bring me so much joy! Spring is my favourite time of the year. 

At present the work is starting with sketches of dead tulips. I am obsessed. My husband came home to a bunch in the oven not so long ago – with me stood staring into the glass watching them wither. He thought I’d finally lost it! Im not sure what it is that I find so alluring about them? The fragile petals, the way the colours transform, the gentle lines? Ageing as a concept is of particular interest to me. 

I also love sunrises and sunsets, I mean who doesn’t?! You’ll find me running to the top of the house at sunset or legging it down the hill if I am on one of my early walks, just to catch a glimpse. 

4/ Which artists are you most inspired and/or influenced by? 

I love the work of the female abstract expressionist painters of the 50s. Some of Helen Frankenthaler’s and Joan Mitchell’s work really hits the spot for me. 

5/ Can you describe a typical day for us? Or perhaps let us know where your favourite place to work is? 

A typical day always starts with movement. I enjoy early sunrise walks, runs, gym classes, gymnastics and olympic lifting. You can’t quite beat the feeling of coming back into the house after a good exercise session; and the kids coming down the stairs rubbing the sleep out of their eyes. 

My painting revolves around the school day and holidays, so I try to get into the studio as early as possible after the school run. It starts with journaling, checking in with myself, my intentions and my various vases of dead flowers; and then straight on to the canvases. 

Add a bit of house music or hip hop to the mix to get me in the zone, and I’m ready. People often say it sounds like there is a teenage boy up there. My studio is still on the top floor of the house – it suits the family life for now whilst the children are little.

6/ Do you ever suffer from a “creative block” and, if so, how do you deal with it? 

I don’t have a creative block as such – I do hit quite a few dead ends, but that’s all part of the fun. Its nice to look back through my work and find the little glimmers that are leading me to where I am today. When I need to recharge, holidays always help, I love to travel. Even trips to see friends or a walk in the woods will usually do the trick to reset, and come back in with refreshed eyes.
7/ Is there a piece you’ve created that you’re particularly fond of, or proud of? 

I’ve got a couple of really big piece’s of art in my studio that I painted with my hands, they are some of the first paintings I did when I was getting back into art, so they are particularly special to me as it is a reminder of where I started. They’re so different to my style now and when I look at them it takes me right back to how I felt at the time. Pure emotion. I could never part with them. 

 8/ If you could create a piece for one person (celebrity or otherwise) who would it be? 

I paint for myself, I don’t currently offer commissions and I am very set in this journey of self exploration. I am however, very grateful to all of the people that follow my journey and buy my art. 

9/ Do you have any tips for people choosing artwork for their own home? 

Art is such a personal thing and I am a firm believer in not following trends; instead choosing pieces that you truly love, even if they’re not “in fashion”. Trust your own taste. Look for colours that speak to you. I resisted the pinks and lilacs for a long time, but they are the colours that make my heart sing and spark joy. 

10/ Where can we see and/or buy your work?

My available work is currently on my website but a lot of it sells through my mailing list before it hits there, if you like my work its definitely worth signing up to my sporadic email newsletter so you can get the first look pre-sale! It’s where I share more personal things, exhibition details, free tickets and release new work there. You can also stay in touch on instagram @cherdeavilleart

11/ What’s next?

It has been a fantastic year so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed the summer exhibitions. My next in person event will be at Manchester Art Fair 17th-19th November. So it has been lots of studio time for me, getting stuck into this body of work and floral enquiry that I am so excited about!  

Behind-the-Easel with Lisa Metcalfe

Behind-the-Easel with Lisa Metcalfe

A Conversation with Lisa Metcalfe

If you’re not familiar with Lisa and her work, then you’re in for a treat! Working with mixed media, she cleverly uses colour and mark-making to create beautiful art which has a real sense of movement. There’s an ease and lightness in her work, which always makes me smile. Drawn to nature and pattern, there’s a lovely connection with nature in Lisa’s art and with that, a feeling of freedom. I can certainly relate to Lisa’s discussion about perfectionism too, as I’m sure many creatives can!

I’m delighted to feature Lisa in this series of Behind-the-Easel blogs; grab and cuppa and enjoy! And do take a look at the details at the end of the post as there’s an Open Studios weekend this weekend which Lisa is taking part in. A great opportunity to meet Lisa, and other local artists if you’re in North Yorkshire.

Please could you describe your work for us? 

I paint using acrylics, add in mark-making using drawing materials such as pencils and neo-pastels and I also like to add in some collage, which I’ll often create myself. I use these mediums to create abstracts and some landscapes, working layer over layer building the painting up to give the pieces some depth and add a textural feel – both visually and physically.

I LOVE colour and will more often than not work with a limited palette, and mix my own colours from them, which helps to create a real harmonious feel within the piece. When starting a new artwork I like to pick out my palette by choosing the colours I’m most drawn to that particular day then use a mixture of paintbrushes and other tools to apply the paint. Tools such as old debit cards, sticks and netting create wonderful, unexpected marks. I love the surprise and will then make my next move in the painting by reacting to the last mark. Sometimes I’ll paint a feeling, an experience or just paint and see what happens by working ‘in the flow’ and loosing myself in the process.

Tell us a little more about your journey to becoming an artist.

I was born creative! I’ve never been one to sit still and have always done something creative all throughout my life. I find real joy from creating something from nothing and over the years I’ve crocheted, weaved, baked and decorated cakes, made jewellery and always painted and drawn but back then I was quite the perfectionist! Then lockdown hit and I found the time to really deep dive into painting, which I’d longed to do for such a long time. I found a few online courses that really opened me up to different ways of working, change my mindset and my perfectionist traits seemed to slowly quieten down with every brushstroke. My style got looser, I became much more expressive, got my hands messy and now I finally feel like I’ve found ‘my thing’.

I also work in a creative role in my day job as a greetings card designer, which I’ve done for 18 years. This role is much more illustrative and more digital design based however I feel both my day job and the painting feed into each other quite well. I do have an eye for design and composition and the painting has enabled me to be a bit looser with the design work and work better with colour. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration all around as I always seem to be ‘switched on’ to finding it; driving to work I’ll notice worn paintwork on doors, beautiful sunrises, the peeling posters on a billboard and the way buildings/signs/the sky sit next to one another. Going on walks I’ll constantly take photos of the drystone walls, the bark on the silver birches as I walk up onto the moor, tiny flowers sprouting between stones and lichen on rocks. When I’m shopping the colours in the clothes or a range or candles, the dabbled pattern on quail eggs or the design and colour on packaging. I have a phone full of photos which sometimes I’ll refer back to but a lot of the time I work quite intuitively so these things, now I’ve seen them, are almost inside of me and I can work from them as I go and just see what comes out.

Do you have a favourite place to work? 

My favourite place to paint is in my garden studio at home. I can shut the door from all the responsibilities and get to work! I started off painting on the kitchen extension floor in 2020, then my desk was brought down to save my back(!) then in summer 2021 we built my wooden garden studio which could house all my art materials and makes the perfect creative place to work in in the garden. I love to paint whilst listening to music or sometimes I’ll enjoy the quiet and paint in silence.

I have also enjoyed drawing/painting outdoors in the past so I’m planning on heading up onto the moors this summer with a small art kit. It’s a great place to head for some interesting mark making or drawings of the landscape and I’d love to do more.

What’s next for you and your art?

I’m currently taking part in North Yorkshire Open Studios 2023. Open Studios takes place over two weekends June 3rd/4th and June 10th/11th 10am – 5pm.

I’m venue 39 (BD20 7AD then follow the yellow signs).

Over 140 artists are taking part right across North Yorkshire. Open Studios invites the public to see inside the usually private world of artists, gain an insight into the creative process, see exclusive new work and explore a variety of inspiring locations along the way.

You can see who’s involved and plan who you’d like to see by clicking this link where you’ll find the online map and brochure.

Several artists, including me, will be taking part in North Yorkshire Open Studios again on the 2nd/3rd December – a perfect time to buy gifts not available on the high street and support your local economy.

I’m also a guest artist for this year’s Virtual Art Summit. Here I share a lesson into one of my art processes in ‘Mixed Media Painting’ and there’s 15 other artists who share their processes too.

Over the next few months I plan to start adding video content to my YouTube channel. So if you’d like to see more of my process you’ll find more over there soon!

If you’d like to find out more about Lisa and her art, check out some of her links below, or drop her an email and say hello! 






Behind the Easel – Jessica Ford

Behind the Easel – Jessica Ford


If you’re looking for a dose of colour for your interior then look no further! Abstract, bright and bold, Jessica’s work is testimony to her confident use of colour. This is art to make you smile, to bring colour into your home, and I can’t get enough of it. But whilst Jessica’s work will certainly make a statement on your wall it doesn’t dominate, there’s a subtlety, a texture and depth to her work; her pieces engage, bringing life to a space.

I connected with Jessica through Instagram, one of my favourite places for discovering artists and creatives. One thing I love about her account is that she shows her artwork in-situ. I think it helps so much to see art curated like this, showing how it contributes to the feel of a space.

Here’s my interview with Jessica, with lots of images of her work too!


I am a fine art abstract painter, who specialises in colour! I’m a colour obsessive: how shades work with one another, how they make you feel, how colours can change in intensity according to what shade they’re paired with.


I studied for a degree in illustration at Bath Spa, and spent my early 20’s working as an artist agent in London, whilst trying to get my illustration career off the ground. I have been a commercial illustrator for eighteen years but decided five years ago to try painting as a means of escaping the computer! I was longing to make art in a simpler way, getting back to physically making art and using my body, instead of being slumped over a computer all day! I still illustrate and have recently been lucky to find some real success with my children’s book range (‘ABC What Can She Be’ is an Amazon bestseller!). Having a bit of financial freedom has allowed me to spend more time in my painting studio which has been such a gift.

Colour has always been a big part of my life and I’ve always had a very natural relationship with it. I wear a lot of colour, which I know some people find hard to do! I’m always on the hunt for interesting colour combinations and often save scraps of things I find and reference them later if I want to seek inspiration from them. Pinterest is also a go to place, and of course Instagram which is a serious addiction of mine!


I love the work of Richard Diebenkorn, Patrick Heron and contemporary artists Liza Giles, Sophie Abbott and Becky Blair.
I often paint in my studio in the morning and the first half of the afternoon, as the natural light is better then (my studio is east facing). By 2/3pm I’ve often peaked and head home to work on my illustration projects. It’s really nice to break up the day doing different types of work, as long stretches of painting can be tiring and quite intense! You have to concentrate very hard and make lots of micro decisions on each painting, so I find 6 hours in the studio is my maximum!
Often! Some days it just flows really well and sometimes it really doesn’t!! I always work on a few paintings at a time, on rotation, so that if I’m stuck, I’ll just move onto the next painting. Often you just need a bit of time away from a painting to then come back with fresh eyes and immediately you’ll spot what needs doing.
I recently did a painting for a family in East Dulwich in London and I think that one came out really well. It was a lovely large one and had lots of neons in it. The brief was to do something bright and bold and it was a real joy to work for a customer who had such a confident style.
Good question! Hmmm. Well it’s gotta be a colour lover, so perhaps the fashion designer Matthew Williamson? He’s always had a great confidence with colour and I think one of my paintings would look fab in his home!
I would advise them to think about what kind of emotion they’d like to feel when they see the painting. Do they want something soothing, something invigorating, something dark and brooding? Each painting really does have a different feel to it and often the emotion of a room can be transformed by having a painting as the focal point.
You can buy directly from me at and on Instagram at @jessica_ford_art. My studio is always open to those who would like to see the paintings in real life before they buy! I also sell my work in a lovely gallery called Artologie in Cuckfield, West Sussex.
I will be taking part in the Artwave festival in Lewes, for three weekends in September: 11-12th, 18-19th, 25-26th, at The Cowshed, Upper Wellingham Barn, Wellingham Lane, Lewes BN8 5SN. Do come and say Hi!
Behind the Easel – Emma Whitelock

Behind the Easel – Emma Whitelock


I first discovered Emma’s work at a beautiful local gallery, Silson Contemporary. I found Emma’s work instantly captivating; it’s evocative and engaging. Her subtle use of colour and texture to create a feeling, to draw you in, is incredible. I could certainly sit and look at her work all day long! So, I was absolutely delighted when Emma agreed to feature as part of this blog series. It has been a joy getting to know more about her journey to becoming an artist, her influences and inspirations as well as understanding her art a little more too.

Here Emma tells us her story, and how she came to follow her creative dream after taking time out from her career to have her daughter. Do take a moment to get lost in her words and, of course, her art. It really is beautiful!



My paintings explore the emotional connection to land and sea in a semi-abstract style. I create expressive works, the landscape acting as a foil to human experience. Each contains a tiny abstracted female figure, capturing a charged moment filled with remembrances past or possibilities for the future. Starting with a sense of place and compositional balance, I work by building up layers. I paint primarily in acrylic, but combine this with a variety of mixed media, including texture mediums, inks and rich glazes. I gain inspiration from the expansive Yorkshire coast and wild moors, as well as annual trips to Cornwall with it’s stunning light. My works are not of specific places though, and evolve more from a feeling or memory as well as the spontaneity of the paint. 


My journey to becoming a full-time artist has been an extended one. My parents were both artists (though my father always had to juggle this alongside a traditional profession) and I grew up in houses that always had a studio, where art was both produced and collected, and interesting friends visited. These included the renowned sculptor and painter, John Wragg R.A, who was a highly talented but blunt Yorkshireman who would tell us stories of the upsets he would cause with his forthright opinions at the Royal Academy. I admired his lack of pretension and passion for conveying truthfulness in his work. From a young age my rather eccentric late mother would get me to skip school to accompany her on trips to Christie’s in London where I would diligently mark the sale prices in the catalogues of the modern art sales as she waited to bid. We would also tour the galleries and exhibitions so I was constantly seeing work in the flesh. I have made art for as long as I can remember, drawing, painting, collaging, even making models. My first artistic influences were the French painters of the early twentieth century. 

At University I studied Art alongside English Literature at York St John. I specialised in collagraph printmaking and have continued this love of texture and working by catching colours on relief surfaces in my painting. My tutor, accomplished printmaker Peter Wray, introduced me to the work of Antoni Tapies and I was immediately drawn to his interest in conveying the passage of time through the marks we leave behind. My English undergraduate thesis was on the portrayal of women by Thomas Hardy and I think you can still sense the feeling of ‘The Return of the Native’ in my landscapes. Graduating with a First Class Honours degree and the University’s Humanities Prize, I was awarded a British Academy Scholarship to undertake an interdisciplinary MA by Research in English with History of Art at the University of York. I have always enjoyed exploring both words and images. My work was on the Bloomsbury sisters, painter Vanessa Bell and writer Virginia Woolf, and how they both conveyed the same sense of hidden female emotions through their respective mediums. Again, this interest in literature very much feeds into the poetic nature of my work. I still feel the influence of writers like Woolf, Hardy and Yeats in the mood of my paintings – and another painter sibling, Jack Yeats. One of my all time favourite paintings is his ‘There is No Night’. It’s pure drama in paint. 

Even though I did well academically, I never thought it was realistic to earn a living as an artist. I begun a career in education marketing which lasted over ten years, though I always continued to create in my spare time, from printmaking evening classes just to have access to a press, to life drawing and photography, as well as writing. Then I had my daughter and after a break to stay home with her until school, I finally thought it was now or never to do what I really wanted in life. I gave myself six months to produce a portfolio and then took my work to two galleries. I remember feeling like I was on Dragon’s Den, but miraculously the first immediately accepted some work and the second gave me some pointers to come back in another six months. However, after just a few weeks they offered me a joint show with established printmaker Sally Clarke, who I had met through York Printmakers and greatly admire. This was at Pyramid Gallery in 2016 and though my work has evolved substantially from that time, the same mood is echoed. By the end of that year I had been contacted by an exciting new gallery in Harrogate, Silson Contemporary. I exhibited with them in early 2017 and was then offered representation as a Gallery Artist. From then I’ve been exhibited in numerous galleries with my work exhibited widely across the UK and overseas.


I have remained with Silson Contemporary in Yorkshire and you can view a collection of my work there. It is a private house gallery where the owner beautifully curates modern art works alongside a keen eye for interior design. I am also represented by Eastwood Fine Art in Hampshire and The Linda Blackstone Gallery in London and overseas. I am normally a regular exhibitor at the popular York Open Studios and the Art & contemporary art fair but have taken a break from these during the pandemic. I am, however, happy to make individual appointments for visitors to my loft studio in York. You can, of course also see a selection of my work on my website at

Perhaps the biggest development in the last couple of years for me has been social media. I am very lucky to have a substantial Instagram following and many clients from all over the world contact me through this platform. I have recently ventured into Reels, short videos which provide the viewer with a condensed view of my painting process. One of the first of these gained over 800,000 views and I have been amazed by the response from both collectors and other artists who find the insight into the methods so fascinating and at times hypnotic. 


Painting for me is a combination of conveying emotion and enjoying the free flow of the medium, with all the surprises along the way. Sometimes these are happy accidents, loose marks that just glide, texture giving depth, a pop of colour in just the right place. Frequently there are many obstacles to overcome before you feel something is right – all artists will know this feeling well. I remember a visitor at open studios once saying to me how ‘relaxing’ it must be to paint all day and I informed her that sometimes it felt more like going into battle. Of course the rewards outweigh the struggle and if we weren’t striving to constantly do better then everything would be staid. I am always grateful that I can spend my time pursuing my interest and that others find joy and solace from it.


If anyone is trying to decide on a painting, to me the overriding factor should be about which one they are drawn to instinctively. Some people will simply be attracted to certain colours or marks, or feel that it reminds them of a certain place and that’s fine. For me personally though, the most rewarding thing is when someone makes a connection – when the work reflects back at them with silent understanding, revealing something of their inner world beyond the everyday. Like my hidden figures and the words of Virginia Woolf, I would like them to feel “All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”


Website: where you can view a selection of my work

Instagram: @emma.whitelock for my most regular presence, with the latest pieces and process videos

Building a Nest

Building a Nest

Five weeks ago, our bundle of joy, Baby Thomas, came into the world. A whole 7 weeks early. I won’t lie, it has been tough. Probably one of the toughest we’ve been through as a family. A month on NICU, breathing difficulties, infections. The list goes on. But this post isn’t about that. It’s all a little too raw too process right now, if I’m honest. And anyway, let’s face it, you’re here for the interior chat!

This post is about nesting. 

Not of the avian type, but the third trimester urge to create a nest for your new baby (or as it usually presents itself in my case, writing lots of lists, furiously sorting out cupboards and drawers and generally becoming a regular at the tip and charity shops after a massive declutter. All to the horror of my on-looking husband). 

Recently, I’ve noticed that my Instagram feed is full of beautiful mamas putting the finishing touches to their gorgeous nurseries. Poised with their 40 week bumps, and the glow of anticipated motherhood. The trouble with the Instagram algorithm is that it thinks it knows what you want to see. But when life goes off-piste, it seems that Instagram takes a while to catch up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for all these expectant mamas. Honestly. And I love looking at the beautiful rooms. But is there a little part of me that envies them? Absolutely. I didn’t get those last 7 weeks of pregnancy and I often feel really cross about it.

But, before you all think I’m being superficial or self-indulgent here, I know more than anyone that none of this matters. I’m lucky (in an end-result rather than process kind-of-way). I have a healthy, happy baby and I’m doing fine. It wasn’t the “Mother & Baby doing well” message I’d hoped to send following delivery, but we’re getting there now. Whether or not I have a nursery perfectly styled for Instagram makes not one jot of difference.

Yet on another level, the fact that I wasn’t ready, that my home wasn’t ready, has had a massive impact. I didn’t have a chance to nest. And it’s this process of preparing a space, a room, our home, that I’m talking about here. 

I’ve thought about this a lot over the past week since we brought Baby Thomas home. Apparently, so the theory goes, Nesting is a process which ties us to our ancestral past. It helps to ensure we provide a safe environment for our babies, and this helps to promote family bonding and attachment.

For me, not having the nursery done wasn’t about having missed the opportunity for an Instagram snap with bump. It was about feeling like I hadn’t prepared for my baby. It was so important for me that everything felt ready that I found it difficult when it all happened out of sequence. And when I did get to bring him home from hospital I just wanted him to have his own, safe corner of the house. For him to belong.

He clearly does belong. And his nursery is now more than a room full of boxes. It’s very nearly finished (blog post to follow), and I’m feeing much better about it all. Although it was one of those things that felt unimportant compared to everything else we’d been through, it bothered me. It shouldn’t matter, but it did.

Our homes are (or should be) our safe space. The process of spending time to create that family space, to nest, should never be underestimated. And, although I can’t show you a 40wk bump with pregnancy glow, I can show you a little squidge of a baby. I’ll spare you my exhausted face though. For now.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

I’ve never really had an issue naming things. I had my children’s names all ready for when they were born. Jotted down at the back of my diary just in case I forgot?! The cats, the dog. They were all named within minutes. 

But naming my business? Well, that’s a whole different story. Just ask my husband, children, sister and graphic designer. They all became implicated in what became a relatively painful process! The trouble was, because it didn’t come instinctively, the more I thought about it and the harder it became. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea, only to google it and find out someone else had got there before me.

When I first set out on my own I used my own name. Well, my first and middle name. My surname was just too long and awkward to do anything with. It kept it personal and, ultimately my business is me, so it made sense for it to take my name. 

Over the years, my business has grown, I’m growing a small and informal team around me and it feels time to up my game. I wanted to create space for development. And although I don’t hold anything against my parents, I just don’t really like my name. Or rather, I don’t like being called Caroline Ann which is what started to happen. Caroline I’m fine with, but not my middle name too. 

So I decided to find a new business name. How difficult can that be?! 

I wanted a studio name which was modern, authentic and expressed what I do. Ultimately (hopefully without sounding too pretentious) as an Interior Designer I create homes and spaces which tell the client’s story. Through my blog I tell people’s stories; whether that’s the story of design, the story of brands or small businesses or my story. The concept of storytelling seemed fitting. 

So I had the concept. But the exact name was a little trickier to pin down. Eventually, with a little help from my graphic designer (@lauracrompton) Storylines was born. In Laura’s beautifully succinct way, she described the heart of a story as the storyline, the narrative, and that is exactly what I replicate in designing the interior. I also like the architectural reference to lines. 

Although the studio no longer carries my name, I’m still there, behind the brand, articulating the stories. Storylines is just the next chapter, I do hope you’ll keep reading…