Elaine Jones Studio Alice Hendy Photography

A Day in the Studio | Elaine Jones


In the second of our series, A Day in the Studio, we took a behind the scenes look into Elaine Jones’ studio at Jamaica Street Artists, Bristol, to discover how she creates her beautiful abstract landscapes. Photographs courtesy of Alice Hendy.

To view Elaine’s current available work, please click here.



Elaine Jones' Studio - Alice Hendy Photography


Your work is often based on your travels, tell us about a particularly inspiring trip or location.

I think the Arctic will always be the most dramatic place that I have been to. It had such an impact on me because the light and the sense of space was so different to anything that I have experienced before. I loved the way everything would sparkle with sunlight one minute making the ice a brilliant turquoise. A moment later the sky would fill up a stormy mauve/grey, an incredible backdrop to the frozen sea. I think that these pictures were a turning point in my painting and ever since I have been drawn towards vast expanses of wild nature.


How do you bring your travels back into the studio? Is the process of painting a way of getting back to the places you’ve visited?

I do sometimes work from sketches and photographs, often to help with new compositional ideas. More often though I work from memory and I use the inspiration from a certain place just as a starting point. I like my paintings to take on their own life. To me they are very abstract and quite often the paint dictates the direction the painting is going in.

I often produce work in a series and I usually have 4 or 5 paintings on the go at any one time. This is because I work in layers and I need to leave things to dry, but I also think that it helps keep work fresh. If I get stuck I often leave the painting for a while; it is incredible how turning it away from the wall and leaving it for a day or two can change how you see it.

I also hang my paintings on different walls so that I can view them in different lights. Turning pictures upside down can make you think about them in a different way. If you have spent many hours working on a piece it is often hard to tell if it is finished, I usually wait until the next day to decide. Some paintings can come together really quickly, whilst others can take months to complete.



Elaine Jones' Studio - Alice Hendy Photography


Elaine Jones' Studio - Alice Hendy Photography


Your paintings often evoke a feeling of calm and tranquility, is this something that has always been present in your work?

My paintings have become much more minimal over the years, they were often more complicated. When I first graduated from university I spent many months experimenting with collage and placing computer circuits and welded car parts onto my work. Over the years though I have become much more attracted to simplicity.

I am very emotional about my work, and when it is going well I feel very connected to the paint. If people connect with this then that is great, I like my work to be honest.


Elaine Jones' Studio - Alice Hendy Photography


What are you working on currently?

At the moment, I am drawn towards a more subtle and perhaps warmer palette. I am really enjoying experimenting with greys and ochres, this is a bit of a challenge for me because I think I am known for much brighter and vibrant colours. I am actually working through some old sketches and photographs from a residency that I did in the Dolomites/Italy a few years ago. It is sometimes interesting to look back at things with new ideas and a new approach, especially old drawings as they are quite different to how I draw now. I find that adding these strange marks to my paintings can add a new dimension to my work.


First Contemporary Elaine Jones Swell with Black and Yellow Oil



First Contemporary will be showing Elaine’s work at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, 11th – 14th May 2017. To find out when Elaine has new work available subscribe to our mailing list below and make sure you’re following First Contemporary on TwitterInstagram and Facebook


View more photos from Elaine’s studio here:






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Stokes Croft | Bristol


Stokes Croft, Bristol’s cultural quarter, is a magnet for artists and musicians in the city. The area is known for its sense of community, fierce loyalty towards independent shops and its street art, including Banksy’s famous piece ‘The Mild Mild West’. With many of the First Contemporary artists based at Jamaica Street Artists in the heart of Stokes Croft, we asked Bristol based photographer, Alice Hendy, for her take on the area.
























Alice Hendy has been working as a photographer for about eight years. Alice first studied photography during her foundation course at Exeter College before going on to study sculpture at Kingston University.


FC: What do you find interesting about Bristol, and specifically the Stokes Croft area? Did you discover anything new about Stokes Croft whilst taking these photos?
AH: I moved to Bristol ten years ago from Devon. Coming from a semi-rural setting I was immediately struck by energy, creativity and pace of Bristol as well as it’s rich history. What I notice about Stokes Croft in particular is how the layers of history can be seen so vividly in it’s streets. I like the mixture of old and new and the way they sit together, especially the old carriage works emblazoned with graffiti.


FC: Could you give us an insight into how you approach your work?
AH: I prefer to work quietly and unobtrusively in order to capture what unfolds naturally. When photographing people I like to study their mannerisms so I can anticipate when to press the shutter button. I’ve learnt to watch and wait rather than clicking away too much. My favourite moments are when people forget I’m there and I can move around with my invisibility cloak on.


AH: I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life and so my photographs have always been among my most treasured possessions. There’s no doubt that my career choice has been shaped by my desire to freeze time but It’s also about artistic expression and making choices about what stays in the view-finder and what’s filtered out. Often I will instinctively see the way I want to frame a subject but I like the challenge when it takes a few goes at making the image really sing.



First Contemporary artists based at Jamaica Street Artists, Stokes Croft:





A Day in the Studio | Andrew Hood


Andrew Hood’s vibrant paintings examine life within cities ranging from Marrakech to Paris to London. We caught up with Andrew in his studio at Jamaica Street Artists, Bristol to get an insight into a typical day and find out a little more about his painting process. Photographs courtesy of Alice Hendy.





How long have you been a studio holder at Jamaica Street?

I’ve been at Jamaica Street for about 15 years; it’s a fantastic old building with wonderful light and it’s a vibrant place to work. The studio has a strong sense of community and there’s always someone who is willing to offer advice and support. Over the years Jamaica Street has developed a good work ethos and has produced some fantastic artists. I hope it stays as an art studio for many years to come.


What is your favourite time of the day in the studio?

I enjoy first thing in the morning when it’s quiet and I have a sense of anticipation and excitement about what I’m going to work on that day. However, I also quite like the end of the day, as sometimes I surprise myself and produce my best work when I’m coming to the last few hours of daylight and feeling tired. I seem to switch to automatic pilot and do things I wasn’t expecting to do.






Your work is often based on your trips abroad. Tell us about a particularly inspiring trip or location.

I love to travel, absorbing the smells and atmosphere of a particular place is as important as making sketches. I like to find unusual high view points and try and convey the frenetic life that carries on in and around the architecture of a city. We so often miss the beauty that surrounds us and maybe my work allows people to see some of the wonderful things they might miss in day to day life. I’ve just come back from Sicily which has greatly inspired me, it’s a unique place with cultural influences from all around the world.


What is the value of developing your paintings in the studio rather than on location?

It’s more a practical thing rather than anything else. I do use watercolour a lot on location; I just choose not to exhibit them. I enjoy painting in the studio, having a lot of space and lots of paint close at hand allows me a great sense of freedom. It is something I’m working on though, to take oils and board outside, I would just have to limit my self to a small palette but that’s not such a bad thing!




How do you bring your travels back into the studio?

It’s crucial for me to get as much information into my sketch book as possible. Whilst it’s important to remember the character and dynamics of a place, it’s easy to forget certain aspects so I draw a great deal and take many photos.

My studio day consists mainly of painting; most of the drawing and ideas are done before on location or at home. The first couple of hours in the studio can often be taken up with mixing the paint. Forming a good colour palette is really important to my work.

I work quickly and loosely, perhaps doing ten or fifteen small paintings on bits of board, and then I pick one or two to develop into larger paintings. I try and work with as much energy and as instinctively as possible, using a palette knife, bits of card and occasionally a paintbrush to create different textures, as well as pouring, dripping and whisking the paint. These days I use a mixture of oil paint, house paint and barge paint, which opens up a broader colour palette than if I just stick to oil.






What are you working on currently?

I’m currently developing some of my Sicilian sketches and starting some new paintings based around the Thames and Central London. I also have a few abstract paintings that I’m slowly developing. I’m hoping to have some of these finished soon and on the website before Christmas.


First Contemporary will be showing Andrew’s work at the Affordable Art Fair Brussels, 16th-20th February 2017. To find out when Andrew has new work available subscribe to our mailing list below and make sure you’re following First Contemporary on TwitterInstagram and Facebook


View more photos from Andrew’s studio here:



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Calm Before The Storm | Elaine Jones


This week we look back at an interview with Bristol based artist Elaine Jones, in which she discusses the impact a trip to Tresco, Isles of Scilly had on her practice.



Elaine Jones has attracted an impressive following in the South West for her distinctive, often ethereal landscapes that transport the viewer to remote, often uninhabited places with wild and extreme climates.

Since graduating from Loughborough University 16 years ago, she has journeyed around the world finding inspiration in diversity and contrasts, from the jungle terrain of Central America to the glaciers of the Arctic. Whilst her oil paint compositions evoke the feel of a particular location, they are not direct representations but rather organic abstractions that seem to evolve and change depending on her surrounding environment and the ever changing light. During her time on Tresco, Elaine was particularly intrigued by the drama of the shifting weather patterns.



Sea Spray at Dawn | 100x70cm | Oil


Your work is often inspired by far away places. Tell us about your trip to Tresco:

I went to Tresco, one of the Isles of Scilly off the south coast of England, with a few other artists from Jamaica Street Studios. We got a tiny little plane over from Newquay, which took 20 minutes, and it looked like the Caribbean from above! It’s a private island with big tropical gardens full of rare trees that were given to the owners as gifts. Great inspiration for my paintings to see it all from the sky.


What inspired you about the landscape?

The impact of the changing weather on it was really dramatic. Each day was different. We had quite a warm day, which was really mild and everything was calm, and we had a really, really stormy day where the rain was horizontal. We sat watching storms quite a lot actually. There were some of the biggest waves I’ve seen; some completely covered us. We took a lot of pictures to work from later.



Elaine on Tresco


first-contemporary-elaine-jones-crashing-waves-at-tresco-100x100cmCrashing Waves at Tresco | 100x100cm | Oil


How about the work that emerged from your visit?

I did lots of sketching there, and then a series of paintings when I got home. I guess some of my paintings from that trip are a bit raw compared to my past work, because of the weather. I like to have contrast in my work, and those paintings show something a little bit wilder.

My paintings in the studio aren’t literal translations of places I’ve been. They’re more of a memory. My paintings don’t always end up resembling the location. The take time to develop. They start off with a mood from a particular day, from the sky and its colours, and then the painting becomes its own thing. I quite like that, I don’t ever know what the finished result will be.



View from Blockhouse Tresco



Coastline at Tresco | Oil


What draws you to such secluded landscapes?

It just happens. It really suits me. I choose to live in the city, but I do find isolated places appealing and my work seems to be draw towards that, like when I went to the Arctic. I think it’s something to do with the purity of colour. I couldn’t live so remotely myself, but I’m fascinated by it.


Back in the studio, what’s your working routine like? When do you work best?

I work on a 9-5 routine now because I have to work round childcare, but I didn’t used to. I am quite motivated and disciplined, so I like to go in and work for the whole day. But you do have times when you’re not inspired and it’s not working, and if I can see I’m not going to be productive I just go and do something else rather than ruin what I’ve done. Usually I go to the library and research instead.


Now you’re set on your style, do you still experiment with different materials?

Oil paints work for me because they don’t dry too quickly and I can move them around and make them thinner and thicker. So I tend to stick with those.

I do all my drawings on location and, also take watercolours with me when I travel but I kind of draw with them. My watercolours seem to be a different style to what I do in the studio, but I quite like that.



Tresco Study in Blue


What’s the most surprising work of art you’ve ever created?

I did weird things when I was younger, like with my first Mini – it had been sitting in my parent’s garden forever after I wrote it off. It was really rusty and so I cut it up and started hanging it from a tree! If I’d had some welding skills it probably would have been better, but I was just kicking it and hacking bits off. Tying a rope round bits and hanging them up. It looked ridiculous, but I was trying to make a sculpture. Then I made a painting from it – a big abstract – and sold it straight away actually. The title of the painting was the car registration.


Where do you want to explore next? 

I really want to do a lot more travelling. I want to go to Devon, to get the opposite landscape to the arctic – lots of verdant countryside. And also I’d love to go to India, I’ve always wanted to go to.

Quite often it helps just going up to the Downs in Bristol to sketch. Changing location just gives you a different idea. Maybe not immediately, but maybe I’ll just come up with a different shape I hadn’t thought of or a new perspective. I always find something new to add to my work after I’ve been out.



Elaine Sketching on Tresco


First Contemporary will be showing Elaine’s work at the Affordable Art Fair Brussels, 16th-20th February 2017. To keep up to date with Elaine’s work please visit her artist page, and make sure you’re following First Contemporary on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.


– Interview by Hannah Stuart-Leach




Affordable Art Fair | Bristol


Thank you to everyone who came along to the Affordable Art Fair at Brunel’s Old Station in Bristol this September. We had a fantastic time showing new paintings from talented artists: Andrew HoodAnna BossElaine JonesTom HughesKate EvansJude Hart and Catherine Monmarson. Here are a selection of photos from the fair by Bristol based photographer Alice Hendy.


















River Frome Sketch by Anna Boss

Following The Frome | Anna Boss

Bristol based artist, Anna Boss, perfectly captures the swollen River Frome in her new series of paintings. During our recent interview with Anna we discussed her new body of work and where she draws inspiration from. Click the link below to find out more.

We will also be showing Anna’s paintings at the Affordable Art Fair Bristol from the 9th – 11th September. Come along to the fair to see more of Anna’s work, or visit her page.


Read the interview here







curve on the thames 135x110cm oil on board copy

Preview of New Work | Andrew Hood


First Contemporary are looking forward to the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead (16th – 19th June), where we will be exhibiting fantastic new work from a range of talented painters and sculptors. One of the artists we will be showing at Hampstead is Bristol based painter Andrew Hood.



First Contemporary, Andrew Hood, Paris Springtime, 100x80cm, Oil

Paris Springtime | 100x80cm | Oil


Andrew’s exciting new body of work features drawings and paintings from his recent travels around Paris, Lucca and the Côte d’Azur. His vibrant and colourful paintings capture the atmosphere of bustling city centres, the heat of the summer and unsuspecting tourists, as well as quieter little side streets. Andrew’s sketches convey a sense of energy as he quickly documents the atmosphere and movement of the people and traffic before him.


“I much prefer painting a city than painting a landscape of the countryside. There is just a lot more going on, a lot more energy.”


First Contemporary Andrew Hood Edge of the Marais 105x105cm Oil

Edge of the Marais | 105x105cm | Oil


street corner

Lucca | Sketch


Andrew’s new body of work also includes sketches and paintings of London, for which he has a particular interest in exploring the sights of the city from an aerial perspective, such as the London Eye and the Shard. He has also long been fascinated by the way the River Thames weaves its way through the capital, and this features in many of his new works.


“I love that it’s still a working river, and remains such an important part of the city. It has a tremendous sense of power and history, after all it has been there for a long time, I think it’s something we just end up taking for granted.”


First Contemporary Andrew Hood Tower Bridge 115x95cm Oil

Tower Bridge | 115x95cm | Oil


red Bus london Bridge

Red Bus London Bridge | Sketch


waterloo bridge 72x71cm oil

Waterloo Bridge | 72x71cm | Oil


You can see more of Andrew Hoods paintings and sketches at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, which runs from the 16th – 19th June. Follow First Contemporary on Twitter and Instagram for updates from the fair.





Anna Boss Sketching in the Alps

Interview | Anna Boss

Capturing the moments just before rainfall, the settling of mist over rolling hills and the changing quality of light throughout the day, Anna Boss’ paintings beautifully convey the atmosphere of the landscape; you can almost smell the rain approaching on the banks of the River Frome, and hear the muted sounds of the snow-covered Alps.

First Contemporary is very pleased to be showing a new body of work from Anna at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead from the 16th – 19th June. We spoke to Anna about her process and what moves her to paint.


First Contemporary Anna Boss Wet Tones 60x60cm Mixed Media

Wet Tones | 60x60cm, Mixed Media


Could you tell us a little about your background and what draws you to painting over other media?

During my foundation course at the Royal West of England Academy and my Fine Art course at UWE I explored all kinds of medium, including sculpture and installations, but have returned to painting over the past 10 years. It’s partly because the subject matter that I’m interested in – the light, the sky, the landscape – is one I can express on canvas, and partly because it is a medium that is accessible to everyone – I can create something that people might want in their home.

I’ve also been experimenting with ceramics for the past year, inspired by the patterns found naturally in living things, like feathers and plants, but I’m not yet ready to reveal these to the public!


Anna Boss Sketching in the AlpsAnna Boss | Sketching in the Alps


What are the themes and subject matter that interest you? You travelled to the Alps recently, what is it about that landscape that inspires you?

As a runner and a dog owner I spend time outside in all weathers, in alI seasons, and feel like I am in the landscape, rather than observing it. I seek out open spaces with distant views and depth of light. I try to document this time, these journeys, through the quality of light: the ever changing skies, and the way that the distant features can fade in and out depending on the sunlight, the cloud cover and the moisture in the air. The same vista at the same time the following day can be completely different. In fact in the Alps I was finding that a mile-high mountain could disappear and reappear in a matter of minutes! So all I can capture is my own experience, but happily that can sometimes be an experience that someone else recognises, and appreciates.


Trail To The Hills, Anna Boss

Trail to the Hills | 60x60cm, Mixed Media


Could you tell us a bit about your process and how your paintings are made?

Out in the field I document my journey through quick sketches using black ‘Quink’ ink mixed with water and by photographing to capture the detail. Back in my studio I apply slow drying acrylics, and layer it with matt boatbuilder’s resin to create more depth and an element of translucency.


Anna Boss Studio

Anna Boss | Studio


Which artists are you inspired by, and why?

Richard Whadcock, for his dramatic, large scale landscapes that are mysterious and elegant; Eberhard Ross, who captures movement in sky in a cinematic style; Grayson Perry, for his eloquent lectures and observations on society; and of course, given my own subject matter, I can’t forget Turner and his mastery of light and atmospheric depth.


First Contemporary Anna Boss Rain Approaching 60x60cm Mixed Media

Rain Approaching | 60x60cm, Mixed Media


Lastly, what are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on a series of misty snowscapes from my recent visit to the Trois Vallées. I’ve also just finished a series of paintings based on the landscape closer to home along the River Frome.


To see more of Anna’s work, please visit her page.




First Contemporary Calo Carratala Studio

Introducing | Calo Carratalá

Calo Carratalá is an artist with a deep love for landscape, particularly snow covered mountain peaks, where he is drawn to their magnificence, unpredictable weather and sense of solitude. Calo will be exhibiting a new series of paintings with First Contemporary at The Affordable Art Fair London in Hampstead from 16th – 19th June. We caught up with Calo in his studio to find out more about his process and what influences his work.


First Contemporary Calo Carratala Studio

Born in Valencia in 1959, Calo studied Fine Art at the Real Academia de Bellas Artés de San Carlos and at the Spanish Royal Academy in Rome. He has won numerous Spanish awards for painting and in 2014 won the Gold Medal at the 75th Exposición Internacional Artes plásticas Valdepeñas (International Exhibition of Fine Arts).

Calo is passionate about the outdoors and the excitement felt when surrounded by the imposing peaks of near inaccessible mountains. Each year Calo waits patiently for the first flutters of snow before heading into the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada to seek out new inspiration for his work. Preferring to paint in his studio, Calo draws on his memories and experiences of being in this mountainous terrain to create his paintings:

“When I am in the mountains I can feel the lonesomeness and magnificence of this place.  And when I am in my studio, I am reminded of these feelings while drawing and painting them.”

First Contemporary Calo Carratala Studio

Calo’s artistic influences span from the Old Masters such as Velazquez, Murillo, Zubarán, Turner, Reynolds and Constable, to more contemporary artists including, Richard Diebenkorn, Lucien Freud, David Hockney and Anselm Kiefer. Similarly, Calo describes his painting practice as sitting between the traditional and the contemporary:

“I’ve been painting landscapes for over 20 years and agree that my paintings have something about Romanticism. However, the big difference between the romantic painters and the modern day painters attracted by landscapes is that, when the old masters painted landscapes it was to discover nature and actually now we have nature to protect. I paint my landscapes following the traditional way and at the same time add something new.”

First Contemporary Calo Carratala Studio

In 2013-14 Calo showed a collection of his paintings in Centro del Carmen, one of the most important cultural centres in Valencia, commissioned by Consorcios de Museos (the Consortium of Museums). Titled ‘Noruega 2011’, this was a new collection of his work, all inspired by a journey in Norway. And in 2010 Calo was commissioned by Generalitat Valenciana to create a series of forest drawings for the Mercat underground station in Alicante. The pieces were designed to fit the station providing a dialogue between the work and space.

To see more of Calo Carratalá’s paintings visit his artist page.