Yvonne Coomber is a renowned contemporary British artist best known for her depictions of the English countryside. Much of her inspiration is the Devon landscape around where she lives and she likes to get out of her studio to work en plain air. Her paintings often incorporate glitter, gold leaf and multiple layers of rainbow-strewn pigments and paint in a unique technique that creates energetic and colourful results. Here, she tells Martha Roberts, creator of The Colour File, the significance that colour has in her world…
Q: Can you describe your first colour memory?
Yvonne: Although I don’ have a particular colour memory, colour surrounded me during my childhood. I was a child during the late Sixties and early Seventies when psychedelia was in its heyday. Everything was bright and vibrant, and clashing was cool – tangerine oranges were placed next to fuchsia pinks. Flower power was everywhere and the dyes, paisley and floral fabrics were worn by us kids and grown-ups alike.
Q: Do you have a favourite colour and has this changed over the years?
Yvonne: I love all colours and to choose a favourite would be nearly impossible. I am fascinated by the way colours vibrate when placed next to each other and how it transforms their lone qualities. All that said, I am a total sucker for pink!
Q: How does colour make you feel?
Yvonne: Colour is particularly important to me in my home. I love inviting, welcoming spaces and many of our interior colour choices are influenced by our travels and a desire to create a feeling of warmth and space in our living areas. We always have flowers in our home and I love the simple splash of living colour that they bring. I also choose to wear certain colours according to mood and inclination.
Q: Do you have a colour you could happily do without?
Yvonne: Not so surprisingly I’m not that keen on black. I do, however, enjoy the way it mutes other colours, giving an old-fashioned vintage feeling when I mix it with other pigments when I paint.
Q: What does colour mean to you in your day-to-day life?
Yvonne: Colour is totally central to the way in which I perceive the world. If I were asked to describe myself as a painter it would be primarily as a colourist. It is my lens for all of my experiences. Colour also has the ability to make me feel joyful for no apparent reason – it means happiness, celebration and calm. It penetrates every aspect of my life from arranging food on the plates, laying the table through to choices of curtain, tiles and rugs. Also I love to walk in wild places, and capturing some of this beauty through photography is also a joy.
Q: What is your favourite colourful object/objects and why?
Yvonne: I love my colourful selection of enamel vases which I fill with bunches of seasonal blooms such sticks of delphiniums, scented flocks and nodding peonies, or wildflowers from the hedgerows surrounding my studio, or bright crimson winter berries. They make my heart glad.
Q: Do you think there are rules about colour? Or are rules made to be broken?
Yvonne: Yes there are no rules! I think it is important for one to follow one’s own instinct and create a unique style.
Q: Do you have a colour story or anecdote?
Yvonne: I love my scarlet range cooker that I purchased with my father’s inheritance, it gives me a sense of warmth, nourishment and connection to my ancestors. I choose the colour because it reminds me of my Pa’s creative, passionate, generous spirit.
Q: If you could give people advice about using colour, what would it be?
Yvonne: Follow your heart and trust your own taste. Trends come and go but have the courage to surround yourself in colours that make your soul sing.
For further information about Yvonne and her work, visit her website www.yvonnecoomber.com