Cambridge Open Studios - Jo Tunmer

For the next 2 weeks in the run up to Cambridge Open Studios we will be featuring a selection of just some of the 240 artists taking part. Jo Tunmer is a landscape painter and regular exhibitor with Cambridge Open Studios.

Jo Tumner

Where did you originally train?

I originally trained in furnishing textiles at The London College Of Furniture.

What did you do after the textiles degree?

After finishing in 1982 I pursued an alternative career in Human Resources in the retail and software industries, managing sites throughout Europe and the US.

Jo Tumner

What led you to return to train in oil painting and who taught you?

I returned to train in oil painting when my first child was two, starting out at an evening class at Hills Road Sixth Form College. My tutor, Peter Foxhall inspired me throughout the year-long course and I then went on to study at the Cambridge School Of Art. However at the end of my first year I had my second child and a subsequent move to California.

Jo Tumner

Tell us about your time in California, and what impact it made on your work?

Although I had starting selling my work before then it was the years spent in San Diego that I really began to paint seriously. I undertook my first landscape commissions there and developed my style whilst surrounded by the ocean, mountains, forests and my favourite - deserts.

Jo Tumner

How do you think your human resources and retail experience has impacted on your networking with other artists?

I am at my happiest hidden away in my studio playing with colour, however my HR and retail experience has helped me make what I really love to do into a whole new career. It has also helped me realise that it is just like any other job - you need to communicate with not only your customers, but with your colleagues too.

Jo Tumner

You are very involved with Open Studios, whats the best part about looking after the new members?

To me Open Studios is an opportunity. An opportunity to talk to customers, sell your work but also to get together with other artists and share a common bond. It can be a lonely profession and sometimes you need feedback from other artists to help you see your work more objectively. The best part about looking after new members is seeing them make new connections with each other.

Jo Tumner

We mostly know you for your beautiful landscapes, what areas of the country are your favourite to work on?

At the moment I am really enjoying Norfolk. I have a new 2011 collection called Norfolk Talks that will be first shown at Open Studios. I will then be looking for gallery representation to show it from September.

Any plans to travel further afield with your landscapes?

This year I am travelling through Umbria and Lazio so we'll see what that brings. 2012, if all goes well I am hoping to experience Australia for the first time. I rarely stay in one place and love to be on the road and our children have grown up travelling in the back of cars and vans and are very patient when I continually stop to take photographs and sketch:-)

You are very busy with commissions, what lengths do you go to to ensure you meet your clients brief?

I have been very lucky with commissions and they have been varied. With both private and corporate commissions I will meet with the client to gauge what they are looking for, fill half a sketch book with ideas and then often many small preliminary paintings to ensure we are on the same page. I like to visit where the painting is most likely to be hung and also get a feel for the clients personality.

Tell us about the panels you did for Addenbrookes hospital.

The brief from Addenbrooke's Arts, a charity funded organisation, was to paint three 130 x 130 cms wood panels, in oils, for the main stairwell. The subject was to include as much sky as possible and something that would be uplifting and inspiring. Ebullinence, Content and Expect (below) were hung in January 2011.

If you could learn another craft, what would it be?

I am attending a 10 week certificate course in printmaking at The Curwen Press from September. I never print my work, except for greeting card purposes, as I want my clients to have a one-off original painting that they won't find anywhere else. However as an artist I want to explore other techniques to expand my knowledge.

If someone was considering joining Open Studios, what advice would you give them?

Go for it. Talk to other artists and don't be afraid. I have met some truly fantastic people through participating in Open Studios and although it is exhausting it is so definitely worth it!

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