Dorset Art Weeks

Yesterday I went exploring my local Dorset Art Weeks exhibitors with my little girl. We didn’t get far, as there isn’t much time between naps and meals, but took in four different artists in total.

The event seems very much in the tradition of the open studio trail, but on a rather enormous, county-spanning scale. Much of the art seems inspired by the surrounding countryside and seascapes.

Being inspired myself, I have started a stormy seascape of the imagination, which is still a work in progress, but which I’d like to share here.


The first artist we saw was Elizabeth Williams, a painter largely of seascapes, partly inspired by local scenes and partly from the imagination. She was very welcoming, and brought her dog into the studio so that my little girl could meet him.

This is one of her images, which links to her website. I can’t begin to imagine how I could ever reach the stage where I could create something like this.

Homeward Bound - Oil Painting

She encouraged me to paint in oils, and suggested that I take a class to overcome the sense of intimidation! We talked a lot about creating textures in paintings.

Of her own work, she says ‘The atmosphere and light play a special role in endless inspirations that surround me where I live, close to the beach. I work in oils on canvas, linen or panel and my paintings depict my interpretations of the beaches and places of interest close by. These can be instantly recognisable or an expression of the feelings I get when painting the image I see before me or how I imagine it to be.’

Our next stop introduced us to the illustrated poems of Mike Preen (he does the illustrations and calligraphy, not the poems, which are largely by one of Bournemouth’s most famous former residents Robert Louis Stevenson). They are extremely charming and all done in some kind of crayon although they have a watercolour feel to them.

Mike Preen

I particularly liked some of his works that were inspired by Medieval illuminated manuscripts. I think these poems would make excellent gifts (check out his website by clicking on the image above).

Next were the photorealistic paintings of horses by Pam Maxey, who we met and was really lovely and also really encouraging of the use of oil paints. She said that she is thinking of becoming more expressive with her paintings, which is a struggle I can appreciate, although the difference is that she can actually paint in the first place.

Exhibiting alongside her was Tricia Taylor and some rather lovely landscapes, although at this point my string-willed daughter decided she had had enough and started declaring ‘bye bye’ to everyone, and it was time to go.

Even this small cross-section of Dorset creatives was really inspiring to me – a great selection of totally different artistic approaches that reveals what a rich seam of art there is in my neck of the woods. And I’m glad that it prompted an immediate creative response from me.

I’ll keep working on it. It’s nice to try something a bit different.

If you get a chance, do get out into Hardy’s county and see some amazing art.


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