Painting By NumbersIn a world obsessed with counting followers, likes and views, Worcestershire-based Kirstie Trobe's success can be measured in a different way. From the exponential growth of her art classes to the amount of awards she has won, Kirstie's numbers are far more significant.
Kirstie's unique style is instantly recognisable, using vivid colour to create visually stunning watercolour paintings and pastel works, with beautiful realism. Her work always draws a crowd at local shows, so we were lucky to get a few minutes aside for an interview.
Why do you create?
I've been working as a professional artist and art tutor for only a relatively short period of time, starting my business Kirstie Trobe Fine Art in November 2019. Within 3 years I went from student to tutor at the weekly art classes I'd started attending in 2015, then set up my own independent classes. Prior to that I was a stay at home mum for 23 years raising our 6 children. Which, needless to say, didn't allow any time for creativity.
Kingfisher in Flight
My fledgling business was only 3 months old when Covid hit and I had to adapt very quickly, switching the classes to Zoom, learn how to produce and edit tutorial videos, market myself, navigate the unfamiliar territory of social media and find new students as only 3 original students were prepared try online classes.
“My business has grown from 1 class of 3 students to 6 classes a week with 36 students attending...”
How and where do you work?
I have now been able to resume face to face classes which I run from my home studio/gallery in Worcester. My business has grown from 1 class of 3 students to 6 classes a week with 36 students attending, both in person and online. When not teaching I use the studio to paint for exhibitions, commissions and my website.
Live Figure Drawing
Where do you get your inspiration?
I don't have a particular source of inspiration, and I often struggle to think of what I shall paint next. I have no idea what will make a painting sell and I wouldn't want to paint with just that in mind, so I guess the answer is if I like the look of something then I'll paint it.
“I'm that person in a gallery that always gets told off for getting too close to a painting...”
What influences your work?
Whenever I go to an exhibition, or watch a programme like Portrait Artist of the Year I feel this urge to grab a paint brush or pencil and start creating. Like anyone else, I'm influenced by artists I admire and I try to attend exhibitions regularly. I'm that person in a gallery that always gets told off for getting too close to a painting because I'm trying to examine the brushstrokes.
Where do you sell your art?
I sell my art online via Instagram, my website (steep learning curve to set that up!) and Etsy (I never seem to make any sales there). Also local art markets (always unpredictable), a local gallery, from my home studio/gallery and during Worcestershire Open Studios.
“...nobody wants to see visual diarrhoea from endless posts, so I only post if I have something to say.”
How do you promote yourself and your work?
I promote myself via social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. I usually post once or twice a week, nobody wants to see visual diarrhoea from endless posts, so I only post if I have something to say. For example, if I've finished a painting I'll make a time lapse video.
What are your future ambitions?
I paint mainly in watercolour and more recently with soft pastels. I'd really like to find the time to learn to paint in oils, but the classes have become more popular than I'd predicted so they take up half the week, which doesn't leave much time for experimenting.
I've been very fortunate that within 3 years I've exhibited with the Royal Society of British Artists at Mall Galleries, been selected 3 times to exhibit at Broadway Open Arts Festival and had a solo exhibition at The Gallery, Pershore. This year I also won 3 Awards at the Worcestershire Hour Social Media Awards and was a finalist at the Women Who, Worcestershire Awards so I must be doing something right. It's nice to think all that stuff I had to teach myself in lockdown came in handy.
Do you have any advice for other artists?
You've got to be in it to win it. Apply for that exhibition, learn to adapt and be prepared to work hard at being lucky.
Thank you Kirstie for telling us more about yourself and your work. You can see more of Kirstie Trobe's beautiful art on her website, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.