As I pulled up in the street ready to embark on my next interview a beautiful young woman with paint-spattered legs and a dog close at heel crossed in front of me. She looked cool, confident and at ease with life.
Even though I had parked outside her Ashover home and the paint should have been a giveaway, it didn’t occur to me that this was Lily Hammond, the artist I was about to interview, until she greeted me with a huge grin at the gate.
I suspect my surprise was due to the fact that mentally I was expecting someone a little older.
At just 23 and having turned her back on higher education Lily is already forging herself a career as a painter and finding that people love her work.
As I was about to discover she has a dogged determination to do things her own way and a likeable charm to which people warm.
“From a young age I had an artistic flair and I am passionate about expressing myself in creative ways,” she said as we chatted in her studio while her dog insisted she play fetch with a favourite toy.
“I had a great art teacher at Tupton Hall School and she encouraged me to try new ideas. That’s where I discovered a love for texture and colour. I did think about going to university and went to Chesterfield College to do my foundation course.
“Unfortunately though it wasn’t for me and I lost my direction for a bit.
“Instead of uni I embarked on an apprenticeship at Brampton Picture Framing in Chesterfield where I gained a lot of knowledge about business and framing and sales.
“I carried on with my painting though, and recently decided to give up the job and concentrate on my art full time. Since my GCSE days I have had commissions from friends and people who have seen my work on facebook.
“As more people became interested I gained more confidence and thought it would be worth trying to make a success of being an artist.”
Lily staged her first solo exhibition at the Ashover Show in the summer and she was staggered at the response she had.
“I had some fantastic feedback and great sales and even sold my prize possession – The King – which I just wasn’t expecting. I even took some new and exciting commissions.”
Lily is also thrilled that her work is going to be exhibited at the West Studios, in Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, during November.
“I can’t believe how well everything is going and how lucky I am to be able to paint every day.”
Go to http://www.lilyhammondart.com to see more of her work.