The North Norfolk coast is inspiring in many ways, not least to Tracey Ross, a local artist who is dedicated to catching its essence, colour and vast skies in her best-known work. For Tracey, being an artist is not about expressing all the detail and reproducing exactly how a place looks, but instead it’s being bold – which she believes sets her works apart from the rest.
“For me, it’s how a place makes me feel when I’m walking and sketching,” says Tracey. “I feel a spiritual connection calling me to sense the light and atmosphere of a place. It’s the role of the artist to highlight what’s around us, so allowing others to discover it for themselves.”
Indeed, there is nothing bashful about Tracey’s work. Whether it’s capturing the coast in storm or rain, sun or calm, the colours are intense and the brushwork powerful. It has brought her recognition from the Royal Society of Marine Artists and Institute of Painters in Water Colours, and her work is held in private collections in the UK and abroad.
How did Tracey start out? “I was born in Norfolk and grew up in a creative family where we were always taken to the beach,” says Tracey. “To know an area truly is to remain close to it. Now I’m living in North Norfolk, it has given me a sense of being rooted to the place, and that’s something I’m thankful for.”
Tracey studied textile design and completed a Visual Studies degree at Norwich University of the Arts. She developed her painting style over many years, believing it’s important to have one that is recognisable and unique. Her work uses mixed media, including acrylic, oils, tissue paper and texture gels to add an interesting surface and quality.
'A Season of Sea Lavender'
“Being bold drives me to take more risks with my work – I know all too well when I’m playing safe,” explains Tracey. “Then I have to challenge myself and break free from the fear of holding myself back, even if it means messing up a painting! Once I’ve managed this, I find a new energy develops within the work and it begins to speak back to me. That’s when exciting things happen.”
Sketching and experimenting with different kinds of mixed media also helps Tracey keep her work fresh, as she finds her sketchbooks capture the drama and beauty of what she experiences at a given time of day. “When sketching the fleeting light, I aim to convey an intense visual experience which speaks from my heart,” she explains. “From there the challenge becomes one of how best to translate these experiences and distil them into paintings.”
Tracey is proud of establishing a career as a painter, but also finds being an art tutor is a very rewarding experience. She is a member of the Norwich 20 Group, and regularly participates in the annual Norfolk Open Studios event. Her work can be found at Pocock’s the Artmonger in Burnham Market; the Tess Ainley Gallery in Holt; and the Sea Pictures Gallery in Clare, Suffolk.
She feels Norfolk has a lot going for it, especially for the creative industries. “There are great cafes, pubs and restaurants, and there are many independent shops popping up all over,” she adds.
There’ll be a great opportunity to visit Tracey’s studio when she opens her doors on three weekends during Norfolk Open Studios in 2018: 26-27 May; 2-3 June; and 9-10 June. You can see all her latest paintings, prints, greetings cards and sketchbooks. She is currently busy preparing lots of new work for her solo summer show at North Creake Abbey Café, from 13 June to 11 September.
And if you would like to unleash your own creative talents in paint, there are still places on Tracey’s two art workshops next summer, on Saturday 30 June or 7 July. All standards are welcome – even complete beginners!
'Blossoming Sea Lavender'
'Emerald Sea I'
'Mist Rising - Morston'
'Sea Lavender - Samphire'