Artist Kay Boyce, Oswestry

PUBLISHED: 20:31 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:39 06 February 2013

Artist Kay Boyce, Oswestry

Artist Kay Boyce, Oswestry

Kay Boyce's romantic drawings have a devoted following and the economic downturn has led to a new love for the Shropshire artist says Rachel Crow

The economic slowdown has impacted on all our lives some way or another, but for Shropshire artist Kay Boyce it acted as the catalyst for her venturing into a new chapter in her artistic oeuvre, and with successful results.

From her home near Oswestry, Kay has for years been producing delicate pastel and pencil figurative drawings that have attracted a dedicated set of collectors and seen her amongst the top published artists for numerous years. But in 2008, with the shaky global economy affecting the print market, Kay decided to finally try her hand at oil painting.

Ive wanted to try working with oils for years but while youre experimenting youre not earning money and I didnt have the time. Then when the print market changed because of the financial climate I started painting oils for a very different market and its been the best thing Ive done, Ive sold every one, she explains. Oil is a very different medium to pastels and you have to think about it differently and the paintings are much more detailed, but they are lovely to work with and very rewarding. Its been amazing and I wish Id started it years ago. I love it with a passion.

Having trained in illustration, Kay worked as a freelance commercial illustrator for years producing work for weekly magazines including Women s Weekly, Bella, My Weekly and Womans Own as well as for book publishers such as Hodder and Stoughton, Wadsworth Romantics and Mills and Boon. Feeling her true vocation lay as an artist, she began showing her work with Oswestry Arts Society in the early 1990s and her break came when a representative of publishers Solomon and Whitehead saw her pieces exhibited at a gallery in Welshpool and gradually her work began to sell like hotcakes. I was a very busy girl, she smiles. At one stage I had a waiting list of about 90 for my pictures.

Her female figurative paintings, often incorporating elements of dance or ballet, are very feminine, romantic and intimate. Looking at them, you feel as if you are spying on a private moment of reflection.

I wanted to be able to use my imagination. With illustration work, youre illustrating somebodys story, so youre restricted to their brief and you cant use a lot of your own imagination. With paintings there is more of a feel to it.

Everybody has those private moments like in my paintings and I think because you cant see their faces, people are able put their own interpretation on them; I think people like to make up their own little story about things like that. They can see someone from the side and think it looks like someone they know and people have bought on that basis.

Being trained in ballet and other dance forms gave Kay an insight and ability to reproduce the elegance and posture of dancers. She is also an avid collector of fabrics and antique costumes and many of these have featured in her work.

I paint what interests me and Im fascinated by dance and fabrics. I like to see costume dramas and the lighting on these period costumes. With costumes its the history connected with them, where theyve been and who has worn them.

She chose a self-portrait as the subject for her first work in oil. It was a landmark for me and because Ive used myself as a model in the past and worked out the composition I wanted I thought I may as well while I still can. I threw myself into it as my first piece was 46 inches by 24. Some collectors came to see it when I was half way through and wanted to buy it, which was great as that really encouraged me.

She is currently working on a slightly more modern slant to her pieces, although the composition will remain the same. Its nice to do that because it moves the work on. People have told me they feel very calm when they look at my pictures. Whatever hassles are going on in life, when I start painting they just go over my head. I feel privileged that happens and maybe thats reflected in the images.

Kay is among 15 Shropshire artists whose work in on show at The Malthouse Gallery, Oswestry,until March. She will be exhibiting at the Granary Gallery,Weston Park,
Weston-under-Lizard from September 2 to the end of the month.

Kay Boyces Shropshire life

Where do you live and why?
I live in a little hamlet just outside Oswestry and have lived in the area for about 17 years. I moved to a cottage the other side of the Gyrn Moelfre after college because I found the area so beautiful. I then bought a little place in Oswestry, on Upper Church Street, but I missed the countryside so I moved back out and Ive never ventured away.

Wheres your favourite spot in the county?
Here really because its very beautiful and my favourite place is on the Gyrn Moelfre looking back over the county.

Do you have a favourite pub in the area?
I have a lot of friends in Cheshire so spend a lot of time over there, but in Shropshire I like The Walls in Oswestry.

Which is your favourite county town?
I love Ludlow and Shrewsbury, they have some really interesting and individual shops and boutiques. I may be an artist living on a hill but I still like my designer labels!

What is your favourite walk?
There is a really nice walk along the Long Mynd near Church Stretton and around Montgomery is nice. Im a member of a walking club so have done a lot of walking all over.

Whats the best thing about Shropshire?
It just rolls on and on and is a calming and a gentle place to be. To be surrounded by this countryside all of the time is very comforting.


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