LAST week’s picture choice provoked such a reaction that it was inevitable that we’d want to find out a little more about artist Jo Grundy.
And where better to start than by featuring another of her most popular prints, A Place By The Sea.
Her mention of last week’s article on her Facebook page prompted more than 600 likes and 60 shares, but it was the warmth and range of the responses that was most inspiring.
Our selected image, Moonlit Bay, obviously resonated with dozens of her customers, many of whom spoke of receiving it as a present or of having it on their bedroom wall.
“Wonderful evocative work. I could lose myself in it,” wrote one. “I love it. I could look at it for hours,” said another.
Poignantly, another added: “This is in my bedroom wall to urge me on to my future home by the sea.”
Jo’s prints span all four seasons and reflect landscapes from the Chilterns to the Scottish Highlands, but what is it exactly that makes the vibrant paintings so popular?
“A lot of people remark about the sense of calm they feel when looking at my paintings,” says Jo. “I think they have developed quite a therapeutic appeal. People say that they can walk right into them and imagine themselves there, listening to the birds singing or the waves crashing against the shore.
“They also seem to provoke a sense of nostalgia too, bringing back memories of paths walked and views seen. This therapeutic value has been further enhanced during the last couple of years with all the stress around the pandemic.”
Jo was born and brought up on a farm in West Berkshire, which she believes gave her a love of nature and the English landscape. She worked in graphics for 14 years but began creating home-made greetings cards after taking time out to have her two children.
“As this brought in only a small income, I started to work on developing my painting style,” she says.
Nowadays she uses mainly acrylics, in particular a brand of decorative paint which boasts a vivid and distinctive palette. Her Etsy shop has become her main source of income, alongside custom orders, original sales, and licensing.
So how has her family reacted to the increasing demand for her art? “As my business has grown my family are my Number One fans, especially my sister who is collecting my canvas prints with a view that if she covers her walls with them then there is no need to re-decorate,” says Jo.
“My mother-in-law and her friends delight in spotting my licensed products in the shops such as my cards and calendars. Unfortunately, both my parents died some years ago now so never saw my success as an artist, but I am sure they would have been very proud.
“I think my husband has been pleasantly surprised by my success as he was quite sceptical at first.”
Lockdown had an enormously positive affect on her business – perhaps because of the therapeutic appeal of her pictures. It has also meant more time spent processing and packing orders, although she does try to paint as regularly as she can.
“I also have family commitments which must be juggled around my business,” she says. “I really love working for myself as the flexibility means I can still be there for my family. I paint at my easel in my conservatory which provides amazing light but for a few weeks in the year becomes too hot to paint in as the paint dries before I even get it on the canvas. I then decamp to my kitchen table to paint on slate panels.”
Life’s ambitions? “I have never really painted au plein air and this is something I wouldn’t mind trying as I would have to work quickly and observe more,” she says.
Many of her striking originals are on sale as prints in her Etsy shop, while others have been licensed for greetings cards, prints and more recently cross-stitch kits and objects ranging from aprons to lampshades.
“I never initially thought about licensing but it is a direction that found me and it’s lovely to see my work as cards and other products,” she says.
Jo’s portfolio, including original paintings and a range of prints and other products can be found on her website.