An Interview with Tammy Walters: on Finding Freedom in Artistic Success.


Tammy Walters – Artists Feature – VAA Member of the Month September 2023

Lancashire based contemporary artist, Tammy Walters, discusses inspiration, community, and how freedom is an important part of her artistic process.

Tammy was born in 1968 in a small village called Kirkby on the outskirts of Liverpool. She started her career in an accounts department after being told she needed a ‘back-up plan’ when it came to the arts, and a later change to a corporate role in HR lead to her travelling to Azerbaijan and Dubai, where she found the opportunity to further her arts practice. Since moving back to the UK in 2016, Tammy has pursued painting full time, and has since spent two years as the resident artist at Aintree International Equestrian Centre, undertaken her first solo show, A Gallop in Time, in 2022, and continued to work with galleries across the UK. Her work has been sold internationally and she continues to have ongoing success.

‘Play and experimentation is so important in what I do, it’s taken a long time to finally get back to being that child who paints an Apple purple rather than green or red.’

I wake up pretty early as we live in the beautiful countryside, so the birds, ducks, geese and pheasants are up and about and they’re not afraid to let you know their awake.

I take my three dogs for a 4 mile walk through farmland and listen to my favourite podcasts, some art related and sometimes audio books. I don’t often sit and relax with a book so this way I get to do both whilst getting my vitamin D. It’s here I can think about new work without any interruptions or distractions.

I go home then to enjoy breakfast and then spend the morning doing paperwork, household chores etc.  the afternoon is when I get to paint.

I think it’s so important to have those conversations with people who love what you love, so go find out where your tribe hang out, it was suggested to me to join groups where my work (ie horses) would be appreciated, so I now am very active on a equine group where I can share my passion but have also gained followers who’ve commissioned and bought my work through hours of community chat and engagement.

What does a day in your life look like? What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?

Stewart taylor
Describe your creative process, from the first spark of inspiration to the finished product, what does your work aim to say?
Karin Merx

I ‘m sure I have a process but it’s not one I follow rigorously it’s more of a natural thing.

I always have a reference image which could be from a photo I took on holiday or saw in a magazine. I’m always looking at interiors, I love to see a beautiful room and that gives me a sense of what I think I could add to that  setting, so the colour schemes are very important. Whether it’s a horse I paint or another animal I try to paint it in an abstract fashion or in a way that it’s more about the way it feels rather than the genre, if that makes sense. It’s a bit like if you asked me would I hang a painting of an eagle I’d say probably not, as that subject might  not interest me but if it’s painted in a unique way and using interesting colour schemes then it excites me to see how I can make that eagle into something totally artistic and unique.

So if I am excited by a subject I would look at the image, if it has noticeable forms, shapes, lines then I think how I can enhance them, using black ink this allows me to create the shapes, then I just fill in with colour and it just evolves from there, WIP happens on the paper or canvas, very rarely do I sketch an idea for a big piece. 

I think my initial aim is to connect with people, make people look at it and feel uplifted or tap into a memory that they have or just feel joy. I like to make a statement, my work can be bold and extroverted in a way is completely the opposite of my personality. I find this way I’m expressing myself and so often as a shy child I probably wanted to be heard or be recognised or wanted to stand out where now with my art I can be all those things.

‘Find out your why because that’s where the magic comes from. . .’

Being allowed to be free, not constrained.  Play and experimentation is so important in what I do, it’s taken a long time to finally get back to being that child who paints an Apple purple rather than green or red.

And, well my definition of the type of success I’m looking for is:

1. to be able to get up and walk my dogs in the beautiful countryside.

2. To paint freely what I want to paint in the comfort of my studio knowing that I have created sufficient income to support that process and enough to make family time comfortable and enjoyable and enough to help others, so buying other work from artists so giving back is important to me. 

Do you have a particular outlook that guides you? What is your definition of artistic success?
Karin Merx
What accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
Karin Merx

My biggest honour to date is a yearly memorial commission at Haydock Park Racecourse in the UK, where for the past four years I have been entrusted to produce a bespoke piece of horseracing art to present to the winning owners of the Patrick Coyne Memorial Race.

The Coyne family thought outside the box instead of buying a trophy they thought a piece of artwork and supporting a local artist was the most personal and wonderful way to appreciate the sport of which I am truly grateful.

Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the artist you were a year ago?

Just be yourself, show up everyday, don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  Find out your why because that’s where the magic comes from and remember Rome wasnt built in a day. It’s the daily blocks you lay down that makes that foundation strong. Ive realised that the relationships you build with people take time, they need to build up that trust.