Tangles, twigs, feathers and nests make up much of Liane Tancock’s beautifully intricate drawings. Sketching and walking through the natural wild areas in and around Bristol, Liane captures a sense of the rural within the city. Trees often appear on her pages, but just as frequently it’s the smaller details that gain her attention, and so she
“I have loved art from an early age but growing up I didn’t realise that I could be an artist,” she says. “I thought artists were the famous people you see in museums and in books. I carried on pursuing my love of art undeterred.”
Seeing Karl Weschke’s Leda and the Swan on a trip to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery fired up her determination to pursue art as a career. “I decided being an artist was the path for me – I was so moved by his painting that my course was set.”
Ooh, I just spotted the bee in the above artwork! Liane’s drawings are full of exquisite details to be sought out and celebrated.
Choosing nature as her subject came about just as instinctively. “Since childhood I have been fascinated by nature. My grandmother instilled in me a great love of the natural world. I spent a lot of time collecting objects off the beach and on our walks, and this is something I continued throughout my life into adulthood.”
When studying for a Fine Art BA, Liane regarded herself as a landscape artist working in oils, and followed this path for many years. “I spent most of my days painting on site on the coast at Barry Island. It wasn’t until years later while living in Devon that the collecting I had done since childhood and my love of the natural world would come together cohesively in my art.”
It was a stroll along a Devon lane that shifted Liane’s focus. “While walking my dog on a blustery autumn day, I found a fallen nest blown down from the winds,” she says. “I returned with it to the studio and decided I needed to return to the beginning and just start drawing. All the found natural objects I had collected over the years became my world.”
Liane believes that what she was seeking in her work “lay at the very beginning of my art education, the simplicity of finding wonder in all the objects people walk by every day, unseen, hidden in the hedges and in the leaf litter. And all the tools I needed were a pen and a piece of paper.”
Liane says that going back to basics in this way and celebrating the small, unnoticed objects was very freeing, a sensation only enhanced by the materials she uses.
“My tools are very simple,” she says. “I use Bristol board paper for studio work and sketch books for my sketching work. I use mainly dip pen and ink and occasionally Fineliners. For onsite sketching, I find fountain pens and Fineliners the best for catching the immediacy of a moment. So much can be captured with just one colour and a piece of paper.”
Discovering hidden places is an added pleasure.
“I have found that Bristol has lots of woodland amidst very urban areas and places of such history amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life,” she says. “It’s a city where you never know what you’ll find around the next corner. I find it exciting to not know what I will discover next to sketch.”
Being a member of an urban sketchers group has led to more discoveries. “It has shown me so much more of Bristol and has given me the opportunity to discover more sketching sites at places that I wouldn’t have immediately thought to go to sketch.”
Translating the atmosphere of a place onto paper takes a particular frame of mind.
“My studio work has its own pace and each drawing is a lesson in patience,” says Liane. “However my sketches are done quite rapidly. When I reach an area I wish to sketch in I take in all the elements around me. Sometimes associations pop into my head – it could be a remembrance of a poem, a film I have seen or a beloved book. I find the right spot just hits you and I try to draw how a scene makes me feel.”
Liane is keen for the viewer to experience the scene fully. “I want the viewer to feel the canopy of trees reaching over their head, feel like they can hear the birds hiding in the bushes that they have travelled with me and are seeing what I see. I always write a piece on my artist Facebook posts to describe my adventures out and about, to take my audience with me on my sketching trips.”
Recently, Liane took part in an event raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Society. “I have been lucky enough to meet some wonderful artists while living in Bristol,” she says. “Wendy Calder is an amazing ceramicist who holds annual open studios and raises money for the Alzheimer’s society. I was honoured that she asked me to join her and some fellow artists to show at her open studios. Having been a care assistant for many years and having my grandmother suffer from Dementia, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s.”
She describes the sadness of watching her grandmother “who was always such a strong figurehead in our family”, become unable to care for herself through memory loss and confusion. “Even her personality changed. Alzheimer’s and dementia makes you feel like you are losing a person slowly, piece by piece, as the person you once knew so well, changes before your eyes. Someone not recognising their own family is so painful for all involved. So I was deeply honoured to be asked by Wendy to take part and help in any way I could.”
Liane says that she can’t imagine her life without creating art. “I love feeling that I’m always at play with my subjects, and that I can create my own universe. I enjoy sharing my love of the natural work with others and seeing people start to observe the world around them in a different way – a rich, often overlooked world of leaves, bees, moss, feathers and lichen! My life is so rich, for having art in it.”
See more of Liane’s work and information about forthcoming events on her Facbook page www.facebook.com/lianetancockartist
Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.