Back in the summer I was asked by Dr. Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators if I’d like to be featured as ‘Artist Of The Month‘. Jessie has featured some wonderful artists, so I feel humbled to have my work and background featured, thank you for your kind words Jessie. Here’s a copy of the feature:
Artist Of The Month: Angela Hennessy
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve drawn, doodled and crafted since being little.
My Mum and Dad are creative, and always had some kind of craft project on the go, gardening, fixing or mending. As children my brothers and I were encouraged to make things, grow things, and take things apart.
As a young girl, I became interested in art, and loved watching art and nature programmes on the TV; we had the wonderful Tony Hart here in the UK, and the magical Jacques Cousteau. I remember spending hours copying drawings of animals from a huge ‘Atlas of Animals of the World’, and loved art materials and stationery.
My journey to my current art practice has taken quite a few detours though, from originally being a linguist, to a florist creating displays for corporate clients in London and Leeds, a library assistant, a seamstress creating bespoke baby slings , and a mother.
I still enjoy drawing animals
Is art your full-time career?
That’s the plan. I have three children, and currently juggle my illustration and artwork with their needs. I’m hoping that, as they become more independent, I can can turn illustration into a full time career.
Climbing Whernside with my three daughters
Where do you work? How long have you been there?
I live just outside of Leeds, West Yorkshire in the UK and we’ve lived here for 12 years. I’m originally from Hull in East Yorkshire, but have also lived in London. I love that where we live, we are only one hour away from three national parks, and only one hour from the coast. We make an effort to take a long walk every month with the kids out in the hills, moors or by the shore. We also live very close to two very special wetland nature reserves, that we can easily walk, cycle or run to. I love having the city a train ride away, and nature on our doorstep.
Illustrated Map of a camping trip to the East Yorkshire coast.
Being close to nature is very important for me, something I only realized after living in London.
Canada geese fly regularly over our house to our local nature reserve
Do you have a favorite place you like to create?
I do most of my painting from my studio desk. I have everything I need at hand. It’s quiet during the day with the kids at school, so I can get straight on and make the most of my time. Especially as I can leave everything out and pick up where I left off.
But my inspiration and ideas come from being outdoors and in nature, since January this year I’ve been doing a lot more painting and sketching on location, which has been a wonderful journey and experience.
“Summer In Yorkshire’ print inspired by walking and sketching outside.
What does your typical day look like? Is there a typical day?
I try and keep to a routine, otherwise I end up procrastinating and faffing around. Having my studio in the house it’s easy to end up being distracted by jobs in the house instead of work.
I drop my kids off at school, and go for a run most mornings. I find I am much more productive after running.
It’s a great way of clearing my head before I get on with my day, it can be hectic with three children running around in a morning.
Being outside, the smell, the air, the birds, helps me refocus. It also feeds my work, as I document the change in seasons and things I’ve seen in my nature journal.
Oak leaves painted as part of my Nature Journal.
Once I’m at my desk, with my first coffee of the day. I always make a list of the things I’d like to get done that day, this again helps to keep me from procrastinating.
After that I generally do most of my painting in the morning, the light is better in my studio and I can get lost in painting for hours.
After lunch I do any computer, digital or written work. I’ve been making a concerted effort to improve my digital, computing skills recently.
‘Spring In Yorkshire’ prints.
For me keeping regular hours helps me focus, and be more productive.
What materials do you prefer?
Watercolours are my favorite medium at the moment, I love how luminous and bright the colours appear. They’re particularly good for depicting natural scenes, and work well on my illustrated maps, and bird paintings.
Pheasant and grouse paintings which will become part of my ‘Autumn In Yorkshire’ print
I also love how portable watercolours are, and have been experimenting with creating my own mini watercolour tins (sketch kits) to make sketching while hiking and running much easier (something I’m going to explore further). It’s amazing how little you need to create paintings on the go whilst travelling.
Mini sketch kit for painting outdoors.
In terms of brands I currently use Windsor & Newton artist pan watercolours, but I’m also trying out Daniel Smith tubes and Schminke pans as I run out of colours. I’m always open to trying something new. I use Windsor & Newton Artists Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed 300gsm for my illustrated maps, but for my nature journal I use WHSmith Watercolour Paper also 300gsm (this is a UK high st brand, but the paper quality is very good). My favourite sketchbooks are Moleskine Watercolour books, I use a large size generally, but also love my mini one for quick discreet sketches.
My favourite pens are Sakura Pigma Micron fineliners; they’re waterproof and can be painted over straight away. I’ve recently been trying out a Lamy Safari fountain pen with Noodlers waterproof ink; I’m really enjoying using this in my sketchbook as it’s very loose and flowing and can also be painted over once it’s dry.
When I’m not painting with watercolours I love marker pens for more graphic work. My work on Historical and Contemporary adventurers are all done in marker pen; they have a similar quality to watercolours in that you can layer colours on top of each other.
Portrait of Adventurer Gertrude Bell, used as a T-shirt design for Trowelblazers
Where/How are you inspired?
My passion is for the outdoors, nature and exploring.
My work takes inspiration from walking, running and cycling in the great outdoors, and all that encompasses, maps, flora, fauna, and weather. My own journeys, adventures, and those of others. Being on the top of a mountain, on a barren moorland, under the cover of woodland, by the sea, or just on my morning run around where I live. Nature inspires me to make art.
Postcard set inspired by the little treasures left in our pockets after walking in Autumn.
I hope that my own illustrated journeys inspire others to get outside and enjoy the change in seasons, and to look for the those changes all year round. I would also like my work to inspire others to go and see these wonderful, accessible places around Yorkshire that we are so lucky to have. I’m interested in the conservation of our land and it’s animals too, and intend to incorporate that further into my work in the future, in the hope that by being outside and in nature more, it will inspire others to care and respect those places.
Illustrated map of a slow travel journey into Bronte country, Haworth, West Yorkshire
I’m also inspired by other people’s adventures and my reading has a massive influence on my work. Creating illustrated maps and portraits of and for adventurers, past and present. Such as the Middle East explorer and diplomat Gertrude Bell, or ultra runners like Sean Conway, and Elise Downing.
Portrait of Elise Downing adventure runner.
Reading and following amazing journeys particularly of women like Sarah Williams who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 100 days inspire my work and daily life.
Illustrated map of Sarah Williams (of Tough Girl Challenges) 100 day hike of the Appalachian Trail.
How do you know when your piece is done?
Drawing for me is intuitive. When creating my illustrated maps and journeys I make a draft plan, choosing which elements of the journey I’ll use and where they will be placed on the finished piece. But that often changes organically as the piece grows, and I have a sense that I’ve added enough detail to portray the journey I’m trying to capture.
Illustrated walk around Gouthwaite Reservoir, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire
It’s something that I’m still learning with painting. Leaving a piece and returning to it, rather than carrying on. I’ve learnt a lot of patience through using watercolour, laying down a layer and then waiting for it to dry before adding more paint. The only way to learn is buy practising, and trying out different techniques.
Do you work on one or more pieces at a time?
I have different projects and pieces on the go at the same time. My current collection of prints ‘Seasons In Yorkshire’ are based on an ongoing nature journal. In turn my nature journal feeds into my own illustrated maps.
A selection of my recent nature journal pages.
The nature of following another persons journey, like the illustrated map I made for Sarah Williams, means that it is ongoing, following the progress of the journey, so I put that to one side and carry on with my other pieces. I love the variety of having different projects, inspired by my interests to work on. Although I have wide interests, I think they work well together. From a small piece that will take a few hours to finish, to a piece that may take some months.
If you were not an artist, what would you do?
Now that’s a difficult one to pin down, there is so much out there to learn and see. I am a constant learner, and I have wide reaching interests. I’d be an author, an archeologist, an art historian, a conservationist, and a whole host of other interesting jobs. How wonderful would it be to incorporate all these other interests and possibilities into my artwork?
How can our readers find and purchase your art?
I have an Etsy shop seling my nature inspired prints and custom illustrations
You can follow my journeys around Yorkshire, portfolio and blog at
And follow me on Instagram and Facebook @raspberrythief
Would you like to share anything else with us?
I’d really like to encourage everyone to take a walk outside regularly, to walk slowly, and look, breathe in the air. Notice the changes that take place over a series of months. Take a seat with your sketchbook and pencil and sit for a while drawing what you see in front of you. I’ve found through sketching outside it’s improved my memory and appreciation of places that we have visited. We have such busy lives, we forget how much we need to pause and appreciate what we have in our lives and around us.
Sunset from Mynydd Mawr, Llyn Peninsula, Wales.