|Alison at work in her studio in Sussex|
|Alison's semi-abstract study of puffins on Skomer Island|
ALISON Ingram is building a growing reputation on the art scene thanks to her vibrant studies of birds and mammals.
For the past three years, she has taken stand space at the big annual birdwatching fair at Rutland Water, near Stamford in Lincolnshire.
More of Alison's swirling, imaginative work can be seen at her website www.alisoningram.co.uk. which also includes an events page with information about where she will be exhibiting in the coming months.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND BROUGHT UP?
In the village of Warnham, near Horsham in West Sussex.
IS THAT WHERE YOU LIVE NOW?
Yes, I have moved back to home territory after being a student at Leicester University followed by spells in Surrey, the Midlands and Leeds.
DID YOU GO TO ART COLLEGE?
I completed a one year art foundation course and gained a diploma. However, I didn't get into art college so decided to study for a BA (Hons) degree in archaeology instead. I went straight back to painting after gaining my degree.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AFTER SCHOOL?
I worked in an art shop part-time. I painted when I was not on duty.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMAL SUBJECTS?
I love painting deer, mainly red deer as I see them daily. I live in an estate cottage adjacent to Warnham Deer Park and grew up with them. They're fascinating and graceful creatures, and I enjoy the encounters I have with them on a daily basis. I especially love autumn when the deer rut. The sound of roaring stags is magical.
WHAT ABOUT BIRDS? ANY PARTICULAR FAVOURITES?
I love painting puffins. They lend themselves to my style with their striking plumage and beautiful eyes and beaks. I like their characters and try to interpret their behaviour in am abstract style while keeping the birds recognisable.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER SPECIES?
I like painting any birds, especially when they're on the wing, I like to create a sense of movement in my paintings, but that can also be achieved even if the birds are resting and preening. Swifts are firm favourites, and I am enjoying watching swallows swooping about, catching insects.
YOUR STYLE IS UNUSUAL - HAS THAT ALWAYS BEEN YOUR TECHNIQUE?
When I started, I used to paint in a more traditional style, generally in watercolour. Then, about 14 years ago, I started to experiment with a new way of working as I had become bored painting traditionally.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ABSTRACT?
It was a watercolour and gouache called Puffin Paradise. I entered it into a competition and won first prize in the abstract/experimental category.
THAT MUST HAVE BEEN A BOOST
Well, it encouraged me to continue experimenting. I switched to oil, the medium I have used ever since. I love the vibrancy of the colour and the feel of the paint.
ARE YOU EVER ASKED TO CARRY OUT COMMISSIONS?
Yes, it's great fun designing a painting to a client's brief. Some like to be involved in the design and some prefer to leave me to it. However, the colour scheme is something we always decide together. I send photos regularly so the client can approve how the painting is developing and make changes if necessary.
WITH WHICH FAMOUS PERSON WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SHARE DINNER?
David Attenborough. I grew up watching Life on Earth on TV and, since then, have followed every one of his series. I met him briefly a few years ago when I was artist in residence at Nature in Art in Gloucestershire.
WHAT WAS HE LIKE?
As you would expect, he was charming.
IF YOU COULD TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO A PREVIOUS ERA, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
A dip into Ancient Egypt would be fascinating. I would like to see the pharaohs in all their glory.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PET ANIMALS?
I have three dogs, various chickens and some tropical fish.
SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE DOGS
I train and show my long-coated German shepherd dogs - and occasionally breed a litter of puppies. One of the pups went to Holland to work as a therapy dog with the elderly.
AND THE CHICKENS?
I keep and breed large gold silkies.
DO YOU HAVE TIME FOR ANY OTHER INTERESTS?
I like gardening, growing my own veg and generally living the quiet country life.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT REALLY IRRITATES YOU?
Animal cruelty or neglect and the poaching of endangered species.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE OVERSEAS DESTINATION?
I don't get to travel much because of my commitment to the dogs, but I loved walking in the hills in Italy while studying archaeology. It was so quiet and peaceful - just shepherds herding their sheep amid beautiful countryside. Such fond memories!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE IN BRITAIN?
The Malvern hills are magical place. It's fascinating to watch the light and weather systems change during the course of the day, and the views across to the Cotswolds and Herefordshire are beautiful.
ARE THERE ANY PROGRAMMES YOU PARTICULARLY LIKE TO WATCH ON TV?
I watch all animal programmes - pet, vet, zoo or wildlife. I love natural history programmes. I also enjoy British dramas, especially historical ones, plus science-based programmes and anything to do with weather and space.
WHAT WAS THE LAST FILM YOU SAW?
At the cinema, it was the Bond movie, Skyfall at home. At home, it was the American action thriller, The Mechanic
ANY FAVOURITE MUSIC OR SINGER?
I tend to listen to BBC Radio 2 while I am working - I like the blend of music and conversation. My all time favourite singer is Kate Bush. I have very clear memories of being inspired by her album, Hounds of Love, and produced a lot of paintings while listening to that.
ANY FAVOURITE FOOD?
My favourite food is my mum's lemon meringue pie and her apple pie. I also the menus at The Chequers in Rowhook where everything is seasonal and cooked and presented beautifully.
FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE DRINK?
A chilled glass of rose wine is always nice...
* This feature is adapted from one that originally appeared in 2013 in the weekly publication Cage & Aviary Birds