Interview with painter Hannah Ludnow

Hannah Ludnow was born in Cornwall, where she grew up surrounded by vast scenic coastlines. Since graduating after studying the arts in 1999 from the University of Surrey, she has become an affluent painter who takes inspiration from beautiful yet often dramatic Cornish skies and seascapes.

With the ability to capture the rawness of the emotion, she allows the viewer to re-imagine themselves just an inch away from the very seascapes she paints. In 2015, Ludnow set up Columbia Road Gallery where she exhibits her work, alongside a select group of other artists on an ongoing basis. Her works are also currently available to view and purchase at the Marine House Beer in Devon.

To coincide with the launch of her new exhibition at Own Art member gallery Marine House at Beer, we had the opportunity to sit down with her to find out more about her work and the ins and outs of working in her profession.

Can you tell us about your background and how you have developed your career?

I’ve always painted, even as a very young child I remember getting in trouble for getting oil paint on the carpet. I studied art at university focusing on producing art for public spaces and working to commissions but within this we learnt all disciplines, but it was painting that has always captured my imagination. After graduation and returning from travelling, I started painting in the evenings, whilst working a secretarial day job. When I had built up enough work, I started to approach bars, restaurants and finally galleries who agreed to take my work to art fairs. It started selling, soon enough I was able to give up the day job and focus full time on painting.

What do you consider as the best and worst things about your profession?

The best thing about being a painter is just being in the studio, fully immersed in what I’m painting, foggy with the thick smell of oil paint. When a painting comes together at the end, it could be a little touch like a tiny fleck of pink against a deep blue, but I get such an extreme sense of satisfaction of joy and achievement when the painting is finished and on a wall.

Self-doubt is probably the worst part of being a painter, there are sometimes waves of insecurity that people won’t like your work or won’t think you’re good or cutting edge enough. If this happens, I pretend I’m not painting for anyone else and this one is going on my wall at home and by the time I’m done the wave has passed. Also, another bad thing is that everything I own ends up with a little bit of paint on it somewhere!

“How long do your paintings take you to complete?” I just think it’s a very functional question and doesn’t really relate to how you should truly feel about a piece.

What or who inspires you in your career?

Growing up in Cornwall, we were always surrounded by artists and a really strong history of the arts. The Cornish abstract expressionists are where my love of art and painting started, but later in my career I’ve become more inspired by great, classic British painters like Turner and Constable. I’m obviously inspired by the landscape, specifically the coast but as I never paint somewhere specific, I get the inspiration from just being there, taking it in, staring out to sea and remembering the feeling of freedom and the outdoors during childhood.

What is an annoying question you get asked as an artist?

“How long do your paintings take you to complete?” It’s not necessarily annoying, I just think it’s a very functional question and doesn’t really relate to how you should truly feel about a piece.

What role does your background play in your work?

In terms of where I grew up it plays a huge role. I grew up by the sea but now having lived in London for the last 20 years I enjoy that dichotomy. I think it helps my work being in an urban setting, you really have to feel it in order to bring it alive on a canvas. Hopefully, this resonates with the viewer as it’s important to me, for others to have a recognition of those feelings and those lasting moments in my paintings too. I’m constantly drawing on my memories of surroundings and the effect a dramatic coastline can have on your soul. They must have etched into my mind as I can still see and feel it when I half-close my eyes- that’s always my starting point.

Find out more about Columbia Road Gallery here

Find out more about Marine House at Beer here

View Hannah Ludlow’s current works at Marine House at Beer