Regatta Days by Sheree Valentine-Daines
Sheree Valentine-Daines "Regatta Days"
About the Artist
As one of the UK’s most formidable contemporary artists Sherree has an impressive track record of exhibitions at such venues as the Tate Gallery, the Barbican, the New English Art Club and the Lord’s Museum. Her unquestionable virtuosity has made her a favourite with many celebrity collectors including members of the British Royal Family. Famous names in the world of show-business have sat for her including Joanna Lumley and Michael Parkinson. She has been televised painting members of the England cricket team, and as official artist to the Rugby World Cup she produced magnificent commemorative portraits of Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson, both of which were bought by the stars concerned. Her recent projects have included the publication of ‘First Impressions’, a stunning hardback book celebrating her life and career, and a starring role in the Christmas Special of the TV Series ‘To the Manor Bowen’ in which she was shown painting portraits of Jackie and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. But despite this impressive list of artistic achievements, her career evolved from almost whimsical beginnings.
Born in Effingham in Surry, Sherree went to school in Leatherhead. At 18 she moved to London to pursue a rather staid and sensible career as a legal secretary. A bright girl and a fast learner, she soon found herself with time on her hands and began to indulge in some idle sketching. Colleagues, clients, even London’s ubiquitous pigeons appeared on her yellow legal pads, and looking objectively at her skill, she realized that she was in the wrong place altogether.
Art college beckoned and at the age of 20 Sherree enrolled at Epsom School of Art where she spent four years studying. Epsom was a highly respected, rather traditional institution and the Fine Art course was run on formal lines. Life models were regularly employed, form and composition were everything, and students were expected to master their art before they departed from it. It was here that Sherree’s distinctive style began to develop; as her training progressed she began to specialize more and more in figurative work and to produce pieces of unusual beauty and maturity for a student. Her penchant for concentrating on the light and shading within a scene led her down the route of impressionism, and the influence of artists such as Renoir and Monet can clearly be seen in her compositional technique.
The first Summer after graduation Sherree set herself up in Cornwall. Here she travelled around the villages and harbours painting the impossibly blue skies, beautiful countryside and beaches and above all, the people. Turning her considerable talents to persuasion and promotion this audacious and irresistible young woman talked the head teacher of a local private school into allowing her to mount an exhibition on the premises. Having borrowed the money for framing, drinks and invitations and invited everyone she could think of to the show, she found that by lunchtime she had made enough money to repay all her debts and by the end of the day she had sold everything and taken several commissions.
The fact that she could make a living from artistic endeavour came as a revelation to Sherree. With her usual energy she set about painting in earnest and locating more venues for exhibitions. From a small local theatre she moved onwards and upwards, steadily gaining a loyal and substantial following, until she was offered a one-woman show at the Barbican. This brought with it a huge stroke of luck in that the exhibition coincided with the opening night of “Les Miserables”, bringing in a large and influential crowd. As ever Sherree’s impressive talent combined with her great personal charm and London really began to sit up and take notice.
Around this time Sherree gave up her “day-job”, designing jewellery for the prestigious Parisian company Chaumet, and turned her hand to painting full time. She spent her days moving around the city in all weathers, from the busy street markets south of the river to the opera crowds hailing cabs in Covent Garden. Anywhere that people were, Sherree could be seen, sometimes with pencil and sketchbook in hand, but more often than not brandishing her paintbrush in front of a precariously balanced easel. As she herself puts it, “when I was starting out as an artist I painted anywhere and everywhere. With my easel, palette and paint-spattered clothes I suppose I cut a slightly unorthodox figure but this worked to my advantage as I met a lot of interesting people. Amazing how often individuals come up and talk to you when they think you may be a little eccentric…” Continuing to exhibit regularly, she soon came to the notice of the movers and shakers in the cultural world and won a number of accolades including the Laing Landscape and Seascape Competition and the Young Artist of the Year Award from the Royal Portrait Society.
Current Location: Private collection
FOB Calgary, Alberta Canada