CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Overton artist Arabella Ross

PUBLISHED: 11:16 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:16 16 July 2018

Arabella is working on a painting of a tiger

Arabella is working on a painting of a tiger


Vibrant and colourful, Overton artist Arabella Ross captures nature in its most vivid form says Sandra Smith

“I’m looking for the best in me, my potential. As an artist I live with doubt but when I leave the studio I can’t wait to get back to it. I am working towards my dream; the more I work, the more it draws you in.”

To converse with Arabella Ross is to absorb her enthusiasm. She is intense yet giving, appreciative of nature and its proclivity to stimulate the senses. Family too, is important.

“I have a very supportive husband. He’s a visionary and a good critic. And one of my friends is 83 and still painting. I look up to her.”

In addition to those close to her, another major influence is time spent in India. Her first trip, an exchange between Brockwood Park School and schools in Bangalore and Benares, proved to be so profound they prompted return journeys.

“In 1992 I was offered a three month residency in an artists’ commune in West Bengal. I drew in charcoal and painted with a great sense of urgency. My Indian coloured collages became part of a recycling process; collected scraps of sari, newsprint, peeling advertisements and incense stick packets from the streets of Calcutta. These fragments represented an essence of the place. I was very inspired by the rural areas; hand painted mud houses, landscapes, people, culture and animals which are an essential part of that way of life. I went back again in 2009 to trek in the Himalayas.”

If you’ve never experienced Asia’s flora and fauna in the flesh, Arabella’s portfolio is a sensual alternative, each image provoking the sights and sounds of exotic destinations via a density of colours which ooze heat, humidity and atmosphere. Macaws, I notice, are particularly popular.

“I’m not sure where they first took root but because of their colour and the sketches I did of parrots from my formative years in India, I’ve always been drawn to them.”

This awareness of “being in nature” drives the 58-year-old’s reinterpretation of animals. Tigers are a common subject, both for their beauty and also the way their stripes may be abstracted; though the finished result isn’t necessarily planned.

“I’ve just started a tiger but whether it becomes more formal or abstracted I can’t say. The painting is in its early stages and paintings evolve. It’s about instinct.”

Tropical destinations aside, Hampshire is also a regular source of creativity. Her working studio is an old, extended, north facing pool house. The building overlooks their swimming pool, a tennis court and cypress trees. From here Arabella walks around sketching and completing colour plans, all the while conscious of avoiding anything too linear.

“Drawing is often a good starting point. I feel an affinity with charcoal because it’s so close to my fingers. I just think some aspect of those drawings will find their way into my paintings.”

I’m not surprised when this Overton artist describes the painting process as energetic. A well of passion bubbles beneath the surface of every comment and the size of her canvases, up to 6’, convey the essence of physicality behind each image. Such dynamism, however, is accompanied by a dichotomy, as Arabella identifies.

“There’s a sense of being able to not be in control, but have control at the same time; it’s a very fine balance. I remember being guided by Eileen Cooper, Keeper of the Royal Academy. She taught me how to draw from my imagination and I’ve never forgotten that.”

Preparing to paint sometimes involves a technique Arabella learned during her BA course: soaking rabbit skin granules until they expand then heating them up before applying two layers onto a canvas, the equivalent of using an acrylic primer. Sometimes fuchsia paint might be the starting point, poured onto a canvas, brushed and left.

“My paintings are about absorbing my landscape and tuning into my imagination. I immerse myself in Hampshire’s lush greenery, trees, rivers, streams, plants and woods which always give me a desire to paint something that speaks of passion for life, looking and colour.”

Whatever her subject, the focus is on creating an image that will impact upon both the viewer and herself.

“I want to surprise myself when I see a picture afresh the next day. It is a great challenge trying to find the right physical expression in paint.”

Meanwhile, given the mental dimension within each painting, how single minded is her output? Are potential buyers a consideration?

“I think about the end market and would like my work to be out there but I am painting very much for myself. When I try to paint for the commercial market it hasn’t really worked because it’s forcing painting into a particular mould and it feels slightly less dynamic and alive.”

However, Arabella is interested in the possibility of commissions and recognises the euphoria behind earning money.

“I would love to be able to sell my work,” she insists, “to be valued for what I have to offer; it’s a two way exchange of energy. Someone buying your work is a huge confidence boost.”


Meeting Four Marks artist Rachel Hudson - Inspired by the local wildlife on her doorstep, Four Marks artist Rachel Hudson captures the character with her bold and intriguing illustrations


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Monday, December 3, 2018

What does Christmas mean to you? Not everyone celebrates it of course but for those who do it is often simply a time for festive fun and creating new memories. We asked Craig David, Elizabeth Hurley, Colin Firth, Amanda Holden and more of Hampshire’s stars on what Christmas means to them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Graphic artist Chris Gibson is bringing Hampshire’s landmarks in to people’s homes with his nostalgic posters

Read more
Monday, October 29, 2018

Some of Hampshire’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about the county. Here, we compile some quotes from our interviews over the years

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

Something Wicked this way comes… the hit musical follows the yellow brick road to Southampton this month. Leading ladies Amy Ross and Helen Woolf share tales from behind the emerald curtain

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Turning 40 kick started a career change for Claire Fuller that took even her by suprise. She talks to Rebecca Fletcher about becoming a best-selling author, and what to expect from her latest novel

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

You can take the lady out of Hampshire but you can’t take Hampshire out the lady. Yes, it’s a corny expression but it is true in the case of actress, singer, dancer and TV presenter Amanda Holden, who has never forgotten her roots in the county

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

With her bold, graphic designs, New Forest artist Evelyn Bartlett captures the magnificent scenery on her doorstep

Read more
Monday, August 13, 2018

From food and drink to fashion and furnishings, Wickham is home to businesses that are pushing the boundaries. Viv Micklefield meets some of those proud to be different

Read more
Monday, August 13, 2018

A surf club… on the Isle of Wight? Surely not! 50 years on, Faith Eckersall meets those that say their little island is the surfing community’s best kept secret

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tinnitus affects around 10% of the UK population and often goes untreated. Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care told us everything you need to know about tinnitus

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sir Ben Ainslie’s sights are set on bringing home the 36th America’s Cup in 2021 and hoping to join the battle are the sailors currently in his youth squad. Viv Micklefield catches-up with some of the young guns already taking the world by storm

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

You can’t keep Mary Berry out of the kitchen and the same goes for Hampshire. Bernard Bale hears about her favourite places to visit

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

We are a nation of shopkeepers, but is the shop dying? We head to Winchester’s High Street

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

Vibrant and colourful, Overton artist Arabella Ross captures nature in its most vivid form says Sandra Smith

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search