Kerrie Hearn and I have history.
Aged 13, on my first day of high school, I sat next to her on the school bus. She was 17, way cooler than me and half asleep from a night on the town. Several years later, I got together with her brother and for fourteen years she was my sister-in-law.
During that time Kerrie went from Plymouth Art College to St Martins and then on to the Royal College of Arts. She taught art, made art and illustrated books but alongside this ran her love of nature, animals and an ongoing thirst for adventure. She moved to Canada for a while, then cycled around Europe and France, then returned home to the UK and set up her beautiful glamping site - Warren Hill Camp - on the Isle of Wight.
It’s here, nestled in an area of outstanding natural beauty, that Kerrie has her studio and home.
And also here that we hung out to talk art.
“I would describe my paintings as a landscape with an emotional attachment,” Kerrie tells me. “I aim to capture the great beauty of nature but always, in essence, how I feel at the time. Whether I’m feeling happy or sad or somewhere in between, I am always at the sea and that’s what comes through in my painting.
I’ve been creating sea scapes for about ten years now, since coming back to the island. I don’t use reference. I don’t take photographs. My paintings are a result of me being in an environment, its impact on me and emotionally how I feel at that time.”
I ask Kerrie whether she works much over the summer, as that’s when her glamping site is at it’s peak season, but actually it’s the natural seasons that drive Kerrie’s art more than anything.
“When it’s hot and sunny and blue, I find it quite dull,” she explains. “I don’t like the stillness of summer. I like the turbulence and the wind. If I come to the studio in the summer, I tend to just come in and mooch about. I look at old stuff and I go through stuff. Rather than sit to work, I’ll maybe just sit and look at everything and think about things.
Then, as soon as the wind blows and the sea is rough and the leaves turn, the camp shuts and this is when I return to painting. It’s when my environment becomes interesting.”
As a former teacher, I am interested in asking Kerrie what guidance she would give to a novice creative, or indeed someone who is struggling with their art.
She says, “Be honest. Be true to yourself. People search for perhaps what they should be doing but my advise is to do what you’re feeling and what you really want to do and not what you think is fashionable or current. Art is about self so it has to come from your self. A lot of students of art think about their favourite artist and they want to be like the person they admire, but that artist is like themselves because of their life experience. You need to draw from yourself and your own experience.”
For people interested in developing their art, Kerrie is due to be starting some art courses at the end of November, where students will be exploring those themes of landscape paintings, but with an emotional context.
She says, “We will be doing some experimental drawing first, then exploring materials. I won’t be teaching people how to paint. These classes will be more about allowing people the space to explore. My plan is to get some projectors and project landscapes onto the walls. We will then do all sorts of creative drawing exercises within that space, so I’ll get them to draw, objects … but not just the objects, also the light cast on the objects by the projected images on the wall.
These courses will be for people who feel blocked, or uptight with their artwork. It will be about breaking down those boundaries of what they’re truly capable of.”
Below is Kerrie’s piece of art that she is donating to the Bopha School of Arts Night Auction, an example of her gorgeous moody seascapes for which she is increasingly known.
If you’d like to make a bid on Nirvana, please contact Bethan on firstname.lastname@example.org