Colour conversation with artist, Vanessa Bowman

For this week’s blog post, another ‘colour conversation’ with people who champion colour in their work and everyday life, I’ve been talking to the Dorset-based artist, Vanessa Bowman, whose work embraces colour and observes the beauty of everyday objects, from a bunch of garden flowers to a striped shell and a bowl of lemons.

I love the simplicity of your compositions. What inspires your choice of subject matter?

It is largely dictated by the seasons, as I centre the painting around the colour and shapes of the flowers. I then work in shapes and colours through objects such as jugs, cups and found objects, which relate to each other in the composition.

In spring and summer, I often paint hedgerow flowers or flowers from my garden, and going into autumn there are the warmer colours of berries and hips, along with accents of last of the summer garden flowers. Winter is mainly about painting bulbs such as hyacinths, paper whites, or snowdrops – cooler colours and muted greys. Colour pops come from accents of a bright cup or vase, or perhaps a tangerine or lemon to lift the painting.


Can you sum up your painting style in three words?

Colourful, naive, patterned.

Which artists influence your work?

Mary Fedden, Matisse, Winifred Nicholson, Anne Redpath, Piero della Francesco, St Ives artists, Vuillard, Picasso and many more…

How does colour make you feel?

Colour plays such a key role in my paintings. I get great joy from finding the perfect foil for, say, a yellow jug against a grey background. Generally neutral colours make accents of bright or opposite colours ‘sing’ in a painting. The intensity of pigment that you can achieve with oil paint is a large part of this.


What colours form the basis of your wardrobe?

Largely neutral colours, which I pair with an accent of a brighter colour with a scarf or jumper or jewellery. I’m a fan of yellow, teal and warm brown shades.

Last great colourful buy?

A beaded necklace with an orange neon tassel!

And finally, do you have a favourite colour?

Mustard yellow, but I also can’t resist a gorgeous magenta in my paintings.

For further information about Vanessa’s work, visit

Photographs by Katharine Davies