From childhood Josephine has had a passion for light and colour, fantasy and visual story telling.
The life of a painter was clearly her destiny! Enchanting and detailed images flow freely from her imagination in an endless cascade of ideas.
Her first employment after leaving Art College was at Poole Pottery, where she painted the dynamic and boldly coloured designs of the now famous Delphis ware very collectable and realising high prices at specialist auctions.
She lives contentedly with her husband at Wisteria Cottage' where she works in a purpose built attic studio. The walls are covered with a huge wisteria, cascading gorgeous flowers - hand painted of course. Josephine is convinced that working under the pyramid shaped roof is a source of inspirational vibes, aiding her creativity! The rest of the cottage also displays her artistic nature, a woodland scene and butterflies in the kitchen, flowers and birds on the furniture and even more wisteria on the glass doors in the living room. Even the garden doesn’t escape her touch, as she likes nothing better than to spend time designing unusual features and creating an abundance of colour, with a slight bias towards a Victorian style.
She has three children ( two sons & one Daughter ) and since marrying Bob also has two Step-Daughters. At this time Josephine & Bob have 11 Grandchildren – their ages ranging from a few months to 19 years old, some of whom are already showing signs of an artistic tendency.
Much of the inspiration for her mystical images comes from her close observation of nature and her interest in its preservation. Though she often strives to impart a message in her scenes, she also hopes to inspire in her audience a personal journey into the magical world of their own imagination.
As with most artists Jo is often asked where do you get your ideas? the answer is from anywhere and everywhere. Jo is never short of inspiration; in fact she feels it is a race against time to produce all the images that she has conceived. Another often asked question is how long did it take to learn to paint? the answer is a lifetime, because she has painted since she was a child and the work has evolved and matured until the current image was created. Her paintings actually take on average 2 4 weeks depending on size and subject. More frequently asked questions.
Josephine works mostly with acrylic paint, which allows her to paint quickly, and to create many textured and colourful effects. She has been influenced and inspired by the illustrative talents of Arthur Rackham, the surrealism of artists such as Magritte and Salvador Dali, and the romanticism of the Pre-Raphaelites. This combined with her own imaginative ideas has led to a wide and varied range of work.
The art of painting is more than a career to me, she says, it is an all consuming obsession and a love of colour and form. In fact, if I am away from my easel for too long I become restless and anxious to paint again
It would seem that in these days of doom, gloom and high pressure, more people than ever are seeking the escapism of fantasy and surrealism which is good for Jo who loves to paint such images. The more imaginative and surrealistic they are the more they are admired.
In addition to an annual exhibition in London, held by the Society for Art of the Imagination to which Jo belongs, her work can be found in galleries all over the south of England, from Cornwall to Kent and rapidly gaining popularity in America.
Josephine was born in Farnham, Surrey, England in 1947. Educated at Farnham and Parkstone Grammar Schools, her family moved to Poole, Dorset when she was 14.
Her paintings are mainly fantasies, influenced and inspired by the illustrative talents of Arthur Rackam, the surrealism of artists such as Magritte and Dali, and the romanticism of the pre-Raphaelites, which combined with her own imaginative ideas has led to a wide and varied range of work.
Josephine is also an accomplished sculptor and has created a number of unique figurines. Using natural stone found locally, various modelling materials and semi-precious stones, she creates models that once painted, challenge the viewer to find where the stone ends and the figure begins.
An increasing demand for character windows, led her to experiment in this field using self adhesive lead and vitreous paint, to reproduce traditional lead-lights and many of her own designs.
Due to her individualistic, textured use of acrylic medium, she has been invited to demonstrate and lecture to local art circles.
Whilst her work has always covered a wide range of subjects, since moving into the world print market, she has produced works with a distinct ethnic flavour and images of many favourite stories and fables. Her fantasy work remains most popular, many containing hidden images or faces, which has become a trademark.
1967 - Following three years at Bournemouth College studying Fine Art, Josephine worked at Poole Pottery as a designer and painter of Delphis Ware (now very collectable), later modeling animals to be displayed at Harrods in London. Her pottery figures include characters from Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings" and mythological creatures. Certain pieces of this work now form part of a book on the history of Poole Pottery.
1974 - A number of larger paintings were exhibited in Teheran and Tokyo.
1975 - Held her first solo exhibition in Swindon.
1990 - Following a period during which she brought up her three children whilst still exhibiting both locally and abroad, a second solo exhibition was held at the Mayfield Gallery in Bournemouth. Also during this year, Josephine and her paintings were the subject of a special feature on Southern Television in the UK.
1991 - Held her third solo exhibition at the Mayfield Gallery.
1993 - Following a visit to the Spring Fair in Birmingham she signed contracts with F.J.Warren based in Hitchen, England and Wizard and Genius from Switzerland to publish her work in the form of framing prints, posters and cards. These prints are distributed worldwide.
1995 - Josephine’s painting "Dance of all Seasons" was selected for the cover of W&G’s “Cheerful Joys” catalogue.
1996 - Signed a licensing agreement with Art Impressions based in Los Angeles, California, which has led to many new outlets for Josephine’s images. Many products are now produced including cards, stationery, puzzles, journals, bookplates, back to school products, mugs, needlepoint kits and posters, as well as limited edition prints.
1998 - Five original works were selected for an exhibition at London’s prestigious Mall Gallery entitled “Art of the Imagination”. Josephine has subsequently joined the circle of artists in the society of the same name, with the possibility of many more exhibitions worldwide.
1999 – Many products are now produced including cards, stationery, puzzles, journals, bookplates, back to school products, mugs, needlepoint kits and posters, as well as limited edition prints.
2004 – First exhibition at the New York Art Expo, resulting in 6 images being selected for use as Hand Embellished Limited Edition Prints for sale at auctions on board cruise ships around the world.
2005 – Exhibition at New York Art Expo at which my first book was released “The Fantasy World of Josephine Wall”.
Received a nomination for the Artv Awards (like Oscars for art) which is to be held on 28th October this year at the M.G.M.Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Pop Icon Britney Spears requested the use of a number of images for use on her new website www.britneyspears.com. Britney also purchased a number of Limited Edition prints and Josephine created an original painting for her.
2006 – Leanin’ Tree requested a series of “Zodiac” images which were completed in 6 months, and have proved to be very popular. They were exhibited all together at Courtenays Fine Art Gallery in Westbourne. Seven were sold that evening , and the rest soon followed.
Met Maggie & Ric Hilton who purchased the Windcliffe Manor on the Isle of Wight, and converted it to a boutique style 5 star B&B, renaming it “The Enchanted Manor” www.enchantedmanor.co.uk and basing the fantasy style décor on Jo’s work. Bought at auction the Manor was featured in the television programme Homes Under the Hammer, and displayed many of Jo’s images.
2007 – Met Dr Pat Sager at Faeriecon in Pensylvania, who offered to promote Jo’s work in the U.S.A. and Worldwide – in particular originals and Limited Edition Prints. She also set up a website to offer all Jo Wall products. She also took on responsibility for coordinating events to promote her work www.josephine-wall-imagination-art.com
Following the success of her first 6 prints (total of 1200 hand embellished) on Princess Cruises ships a further 4 prints (800 hand embellished ) were chosen to be sold at auctions aboard the 29 ships of the Carnival group. In October she was asked to be Guest Artist on Oriana where she gave painting demonstrations and Q&A sessions, and exhibited 6 originals.
2008 - In March & April Jo did a tour of Georgia & Florida organised by Dr Pat Sager with exhibitions, book signings, and including the Cherry Blossom Ball in Macon.
2009 – Follow up tour of Florida with Dr Pat Sager including the Art Walk in Jacksonville.
Invited to display original work at the Quay Gallery on the Isle of Wight, with other members of the ‘Society for Art of Imagination’.
Invited to be guest artist at a number of Fairy events to meet fans and show work, book signing etc.
Finishing touches made to biography written by Susan D. Brandenburg called “Palette of Dreams”
Over the years I have been asked many questions, here are some of the answers.
What is your family background?
I was born in May 1947 in a very English town called Farnham, which is in Surrey, with wisteria growing outside the window. I now live with my husband Bob at “ Wisteria Cottage” in Dorset which is enveloped in a 70 year old” Wisteria”. Each May it blooms and the beautiful aroma mixes with the scent of the bluebells in my garden to produce an overpoweringly gorgeous fragrance.
My Father is a retired professor of languages who specialized in French, and taught at many colleges of higher education. During the Second World War he was amongst other duties a “spy catcher” in the intelligence Corp, and has many interesting stories to tell. My Mother served in the “Land Army” and after the war became involved with choral societies and the “Women’s Institute” in addition to raising my younger sister Christina and me.
We moved to Poole in Dorset when I was 14 and completed my education at Parkstone Grammar School. In those days, we had to gain 5 G.C.E. ‘O’ levels exams to be accepted at Art College. I wanted to get there so much that I worked hard and passed more than enough to get to college. After leaving, I worked for a short time at Poole Pottery as a paintress in the “Delphis Ware” section (very collectable now) until Jason was born (the first of my three children). I have two other children, Nathan and Abigail. Between the three of them they have given me seven wonderful grandchildren.
Are there any other artists in your family?
Going right back in time, my paternal grandmother was very artistic, but in those days it was hard for women to actually become artists. She was a very busy woman helping my grandfather with his business, as well as bringing up five sons. Amongst his other skills my father was an able watercolourist, but it was more of a hobby and for relaxation. My children all show artistic abilities in different degrees, for instance; my eldest can draw in great detail, and maybe one day he will find an artistic outlet for his talent! My middle son is very musical, and my youngest, a daughter has a good eye for interior design. Amongst my grandchildren several are showing signs of artistic ability also, and with some encouragement may well develop into artists of the future. Perhaps there is a genetic link, who knows!
Where do you work?
My attic studio is perfect for me as it was purpose built, and has a pyramid shaped wooden ceiling that some people say channels energy. I also have loads of light as I paint next to large french windows decorated by husband with bevels and stained glass designs of Wisteria and Iris’s, which leads to a balcony overlooking our back garden. We are on a hill so we are also blessed with the view of many a gorgeous sunset.
How long have you been painting?
All my life really, although like most artists my work has been through many stages and styles until evolving into the type of images that I like to paint now.
I can remember vividly the moment when I knew that what I wanted to do more than anything in the world was paint. I was four! From that day on my course was set. I became totally obsessed with art and still am. In fact in my first little junior school we were each given boxes of wax crayons for “drawing time” and even now the smell of wax crayons will bring back the memory of the happiness I felt.
When did you first start selling your work?
Right from the early years I showed my work in galleries. I suppose I really knew I was on my way when at age 16 I sold my first painting, I was so excited! At this time I was painting landscapes, seascapes, and portraits, but found these subjects rather limiting and was gradually drawn towards fantasy. This was much more exciting and rewarding. Fantasy gives me the opportunity to portray the world as I would like it to be. I cannot relate to abstract work as I need to be able to make a statement or tell a story in a form that is “realistic”.
How did you get started in licensing?
My first major step (first rung of the ladder) was this:- For many years my husband and I would visit art shows such as the “Spring Fair” at the N.E.C. in Birmingham, where publishers and art dealers from across the world would gather. Armed with my book of photo’s (not transparencies yet) I would ask any publisher who could spare the time to have a look at my work. Sometimes they would show interest, but either others in their company would not agree or it was the “wrong time for my type of work” or the colours were “not in fashion this year”. We persevered though, and one year a Swiss poster company “Wizard & Genius” and a foil print company “F.J.Warren” were both seriously interested, speaking of contracts and royalties etc. They told me I would need to provide them with transparencies for them to use. You can imagine what a joyful trip home we had! After this I never looked back. The moral of this story is “NEVER GIVE UP”
Is your art used for other things?
In addition to a range of Limited Edition Prints, I have licensing agents in California (Art Impressions Inc. www.artimpressionsinc.com) who license my work around the world. They are responsible for finding the contacts and setting up the deals. Apparently there is a rush to see who will get my new images as they appear!! It has been used for greeting cards, calendars, posters, stained glass, craft transfers (“T” shirts), journals, stationery, cheques and cheque covers, mugs, magnets, suncatchers, treasure boxes, wall murals, scrapbook paper sets, fabric squares, figurines, and puzzles.
What fascinates you about Fantasy Art?
From an early age I was fascinated with the weird and wonderful, and love putting strange unrelated images together in the way the surrealists do. Fantasy gives me the opportunity to portray the world, as I would like it to be. This must be a deep-seated part of my character as I have always been fascinated also with fantasy books, films and science fiction. I particularly enjoy the science fiction films from America such as “Star Trek the Next Generation” and Voyager in fact, all of this genre, fantasy films such as “Legend” and “Tenth Kingdom”, also “Lord of the Rings” book and film.
Are you ever stuck for a subject?
I am fortunate to be able to say that I have never experienced any sort of artistic block. I never worry about inspiration as I have so many ideas and not enough time. Ideas just appear in my head when doing mundane jobs such as washing dishes or dusting. I do have a disciplined work habit, and paint every available moment I can. In fact if I’m away from my easel for more than a few days I get anxious to get back to work.
Where do you find your inspiration?
As I live in England with constantly variable weather and seasons as well as absolutely lovely countryside, I think that is my main inspiration. I am very near the sea, with an incredible forest a few miles away, stunning hills and beautiful views in the other direction, I am very lucky! I often use members of my family as models. I do research for the paintings, and in fact have drawers full of information, collected over the years as well as numerous books. An example would be, if I was about to paint a scene from Greek mythology, I read all the relevant stories to do with that particular scene before I start. Quite often I will buy a book especially to give me the background information.
Which artists influence you?
I am influenced by the great Salvador Dali for his surrealism, the Pre-Raphaelites for their romanticism, and the Victorian English illustrators such as Arthur Rackham. I am also much attracted to “art-nouveau” and the art of Alphonse Mucha. I also like many of the modern fantasy artists, such as Vladimir Kush, Daniel Merriam, Michael Parkes, Lynn Lupetti, Denton Lund, Schim Schimmel, Jim Warren, Brian Froud, Scott Gustafson, James Cristensen and many others.
What type of paint do you use?
I first started using oil paint but I found it too slow to dry for me, and my hands became allergic to turpentine (thinners). My favourite now is artist quality acrylic (Cryla produced by Daler-Rowney) as it dries fast, does not oxidise, yellow, or crack, and I can use it neat to produce thick textured areas or diluted for washes or detail. It is so versatile! I have a painting of subtle colouration I painted thirty years ago which hangs in my sun lounge (in full sunlight) as yet it has not faded one bit! Some textured parts I need to dry quickly as I use a semi-dry brush to highlight the high points. Using my palette knife I create a ”veiny” effect for tree bark, leaves, ocean foam, plants and wings. I’m always explaining the technique to others but so far I have never seen it done in the same way.
What are your favourite colours?
I have no set rules about colour as I am passionate about all colours and believe that any colours go together, whether they sit quietly alongside one another or resound or clash. I paint utterly by instinct and just have fun.
My palette is not unique. It is very haphazard! I like to paint spontaneously and often surprise myself with the results. I do have many favourite colours which I am often drawn to, for instance all shades of lilac ( which I often mix myself) and golden ochre which is good for use as a wash to give an all over glow. The only colour that I never use is black. My dark hues are created by mixing for instance burnt umber (a lovely earth colour) with ultramarine blue. I also hardly ever use red. The nearest is burnt sienna or permanent rose.
How long does it take to produce a painting?
My favourite answer is “all my life” as it takes a lifetime for the work to evolve to what it is now. The straight answer is that it varies depending on size and content but on average it varies between 2 & 3 weeks which is about 100 to 150 hours work. Sometimes a painting will go right from the start, but if the subject is complicated and has a lot of detail, it takes longer.
How do you plan a new piece?
My planning firstly involves a lot of thinking. I have a notebook where I jot down ideas that come to me, and little sketches to remind me. I sketch straight onto the canvas in pencil or paint, as I don’t like to “waste” time spending hours on a drawing and then starting again on canvas, also I often change my mind half way through, completely altering what I have already done. I like to keep an open mind! I nearly always finish a painting before starting another.
Do you only paint?
As well as painting I also like many other creative occupations such as sculpture, pottery, dress designing, murals, stained glass panels, painting furniture and gardening (I even find myself decorating my own clothes and boots). We also like to leave time for dancing, walking and entertaining grandchildren (ten so far).
Do budding artists ever ask you for advice?
What I always tell young artists is to “enjoy, enjoy just love every moment of creativity. Be true to yourself and if you feel drawn to any style of art, don’t be put off by negative remarks”. Artists should develop the confidence to follow their own instincts.
What are your views on nature and preservation?
Artists have been given a fabulous gift, but with it come great responsibilities. We have the chance to change the world by portraying images of how life could be and how it should be. No message is more powerful or has more impact than an image created by an artist driven by a desire to preserve all that is good in our world, and to vanquish all that is against nature. Yet another theme dear to my heart is to include a message encouraging conservation, as I wish that mankind would do everything possible to protect our precious and beautiful planet, and heal the damage we have already inflicted.
My main concerns are pollution and de-forestation. I wish that man would no longer be ruled by greed, but just enjoy the simple things of life – most of which are free. We seem to be living in a throwaway world where skill and craftsmanship are undervalued. My Gaia paintings attempt to illustrate this feeling. “No More” and “Sadness of Gaia” portray the earth goddess protecting and repairing.
Why do artists nearly all have a great passion for, and appreciation of, Nature? I believe it is due to their sensitivity and ability to observe more closely and be open to act as a channel for the energy of Mother Earth.
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Time is one of my greatest enemies; there are never enough hours in the day to paint all the images in my head. I feel I have a responsibility to keep painting as long as I am able, artists never retire.