Real People Doing Stuff: Lesley Award Winning Artist

Real People Doing Stuff: Lesley Award Winning Artist

4 Minute Read

MeeLESLEY, formerly an English teacher, PR Consultant and keyboard player with the band, Hue and Cry and now an award winning, collectable ARTISTas seen in the Royal Academy and John Lewis!!

How did you start painting? 

I’ve always been interested in painting. My dad was an architect, and when I was little I used to sit at his drawing board joining in, scribbling and designing with him. My mum painted portraits and took me around Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow (my home town).  And we used to go out painting together at Loch Lomond…so I suppose I started when I was very young

Framed painting by award winning artist Lesley Birch
Solaris, painting commission for Dunesforde Vineyard, Yorkshire

How would you describe your art?

I describe my paintings as ‘emotional journeys’.  Not only are the artworks about my actual journeys to Islay or Cornwall or wherever, they also express my feelings about places I visit.  The air, smells and even sounds are all part of it for me.  So I convey my emotions in paint through brush marks and colour. Sounds pretentious, I know, but that’s the way it is.

My mantra is:  “I see, I hear, I feel … I paint”.

How did painting evolve into your full time career? 

Very  gradually.  I was busy teaching English and Drama in school and bringing up my son. But I had an easel in my kitchen and painted there in the evenings.  I began to exhibit and sell my work over the years.  Eventually it was time to say yes to it all!

What were the big milestones along the way?

In 2007 I won a Highly Commended Award in the Harrogate Open. Then in 2013 I had paintings selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This was a huge delight and surprise as there were over 12,000 artist applications for this show, of which only a small number was selected.

When I moved to York I built a home studio in my garden and rented a shared studio space in the city.  Being in an artist community is brilliant for me. Each step along the way has boosted my confidence and helped me develop my work further. 

Who inspires you? 

I’ve always loved Van Gogh – he was also a favourite of my mum’s.  And  the Scottish Colourists.  What’s not to like.

Award Winning Artist Lesley Birch at work in her home studio
Lesley in here home studio

Is there such a thing as a typical day?

I start with a set-me-up breakfast of porridge, fruit and coffee whilst checking my emails and post. Then I’m in the studio painting until lunchtime.

I work on several paintings at once and in between drying times, I’m reflecting on the next brush mark, sharing ideas with my studio colleagues or carrying paintings to the framer next door.

My afternoon might involve telephone calls, visiting a gallery to discuss my next show or visiting museums or exhibitions.  I often make trips to London – only two hours by train – to see the latest shows.  This really inspires me.

In the evening, I’m usually logging painting sizes and archiving them on my computer.  I have a note of every single artwork I have created and where they are.  I like to keep in touch with them.

Sometimes I’m making a visit to a client to discuss a commission.  Recently I worked with  Dunesforde Vineyard  in Yorkshire to produce paintings for their wine labels, so I spent a couple of days painting and sketching amongst the vines!

Award Winning Artist Lesley Birch enjoy a glass of wine
Lesley sampling a glass from the bottle which features her painting

What are the best bits?

Making art.

I am a landscape painter and inspired by a sense and atmosphere of a place. So visiting Spain, Italy and the remote coasts of Scotland and Ireland feed my work.  Going away to gather ideas is wonderful.

Any downsides?


What’s next?  

In the short term, I have been working on mini landscapes available to buy HERE from Art Gifts online. They are beautifully packaged original oil made in my studio, and at £95, they are proving to be very popular as gifts.

Mini painting by Lesley Birch
One of the Beautiful Mini Landscapes

Then it’s Glyndebourne Festival in 2020 and a solo show at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.  The last time I was there was in 1989 and I was playing keyboards for Hue and Cry. We were doing a TV show and there were cameras everywhere.  That show can be seen HERE on Youtube – if you blink you’ll miss me playing keyboards at the back of the stage.  I just loved it though. I can’t believe it was so long ago. 

What else floats your boat? 

I love cooking and recipe books. My night-time reading is either an art or recipe book. I relish visiting artists’ houses and studios.  And swimming in the sea when I get to Southern Spain.

Three images showing Award Winning Artist Lesley Birch at work
Lesley Loving Life

Where can I see your works?

Visit my website at  where you’ll find a list of my exhibitions  HERE

and can sign up for my newsletter HERE

King & McGaw have affordable prints HERE.

And on John Lewis’s website HERE

Click HERE for more Real People Doing Stuff

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  1. Ann Bradley
    9 November 2019 / 10:37 am

    How wonderful to see how well Lesley has been doing!
    You are both very inspirational women! Xx

    • Jill
      9 November 2019 / 11:39 am

      Thank you Ann. That’s so lovely to hear. X

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