Gumbies Ambassadors Series: Painting with Jackie

“Nature itself is the best physician” Hippocrates once stated. And he would know - he was the father of modern medicine. Despite this, over the past century or so, we as humans have lost touch with our natural surroundings and have become overwhelmed by the high-pressure commotion of modern-day society. 

But after a year of being forced inside by a global pandemic, we think it’s high time we head back outdoors to find some serenity and peace of mind. And if there’s anybody who truly appreciates the healing powers of nature for one’s mental health and wellbeing, it’s our very own Gumbies Ambassador, Jackie! 

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what got you into creating this wonderful art?

My background started in floristry, which is probably where I first developed a love of combining bright colours and textures to create natural displays of flowers and foliage. As a child, I was rarely without a pencil or paintbrush in my hand, but unfortunately, art took the back seat for many years due to work and family commitments.

After having my three boys, I began drawing & painting with them for fun, though art soon became an escape for me. Over the years, my working style has evolved from simple illustrations to large, bold acrylic paintings onto florals incorporating striking scenery and seascapes. One thing that has remained is the intense, rich marriages of colour that invoke feelings of happiness, joy and well being.

What are your favourite things about the Devon coast?

My favourite things about the Devon coast are the views, the atmosphere and the feelings stirred up by beautiful stormy days. I love the abrupt weather changes here in the Southwest! I am a great lover of huge stormy black skies filled with moody clouds and the sound of wind rushing in my ears.

I love the roar of waves on rugged rocks and feeling the cool mist while hunting for hag stones. Then there's the rush back to the car, where we overlook the ocean and balance hot tea on the dashboard whilst listening to rain against the car roof. I’ve always favoured a Winter beach; I love the glowing colours of wet pebbles and the contrast of dark grey skies against the stunning rusty red cliff faces you find in the Torbay area.

How does art and your creativity affect your overall wellbeing?

I think art and being a creative person has helped me in so many ways, especially when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. As a mother of three teenage boys, there have been many stressful times, so it’s really important to be able to make time to switch off and allow myself to focus on a piece of artwork. 

Being free to be completely absorbed in my work gives me the space and time I need to recharge. I can become lost in my work for hours, and I gain so much satisfaction from creating something with my own hands. Plus, it feels especially wonderful when someone wishes to own my work.

Your art is very colourful and bright, and the same can’t always be said for the weather in the UK! Do you have any other inspirations that give the bright and beautiful colours that appear in your work?

Being a very visual person, I find inspiration in many places, even on wet, rainy days! The most obvious would be my garden and nature. Most days I go exploring to see what new life is popping up from the soil. Spring is definitely my favourite time of year; full of soft pink blossoms, bright acid tulips, sunny daffodils, drifts of bluebells, hedgerows packed with primroses, and snowdrops. Then, there are the rich dark shades of irises and big velvety roses ... the list is endless. 

I also find a great deal of inspiration from the stunning views over Dartmoor - another place I love to spend time, especially in stormy weather. My phone is full of reference photos of cloudy skies, sunsets, rolling Devon hills, trees, and dazzling coastlines.

Do you have any other passions or hobbies besides art that help you with mindfulness or your wellbeing?

I love music when I get a chance to listen to it, which can be tricky with boys with ASD (Autism spectrum disorder). I am also a very keen reader of poetry, especially Seamus Heaney’s work. Last year, I started writing some myself and have found the escapism of poetry very beneficial for my mindfulness and wellbeing. Being able to paint a picture with words has been quite an interesting experience which I never knew I'd enjoy so much. I think it's another positive and creative way of processing and dealing with life's ups and downs.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking about taking their passions or interests and making it public/turning it into a business?

I'd say be prepared for the possibility that it may not always feel as enjoyable or rewarding when you start to receive deadlines or there is an increase in demand. What used to be a relaxing hobby could easily become something that feels a lot more stressful and less of a pleasure.

Thank you so much for telling us all about your passion for art, nature, and creativity, Jackie! It was a pleasure hearing about your journey. 

Follow Jackie on Instagram (@jackie_reynolds_artist) to learn more about her artwork, her current projects, and what she likes to get up to in her spare time!