Elaine Turnbull was born in Sunderland and grew up in a seaside town in the North East, later studying art and textile design at Newcastle and Edinburgh. Her early memories are of the lighthouse at Souter, of storm-waves crashing over sea walls, and of the foghorn at Marsden. The coast remains an important influence on her painting - following a move to Cornwall in 2009 Elaine now works from a studio near Helston, just 4 fields from the sea.
Elaine's paintings draw together a wide range of influences, from the Scottish Colourists she encountered as a student, to the joyous simplicity of her own children's artwork, to the paintings of the central figures of twentieth century art in St Ives, Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson. She sketches as she walks the countryside, translating those ideas with acrylics and other media back in the studio, the paintings going through many stages in a process that may take several months. The paintings develop slowly - often Elaine has no idea of what she is trying to achieve until the painting is complete.
Elaine is still exhibited by galleries in the North East but it is in Cornwall that her work has developed a particularly strong following. She has had solo shows and is a member at the St Ives Society of Artists and she is an associate member of the Penwith Society.
"My work usually begins when I am walking – I make sketches, or jot down words.
When I’m in my studio the starting point for my work is spontaneous and experimental and I work on several pieces at once. At this stage, I prefer not to have any firm idea of what I am trying to achieve, and am happy to let the painting develop in its own way.
I return to each painting many times, to add texture and layers of colour. This stage of the process can take many months.
There is always a pivotal moment in each painting, which may be in response to the landscape, a still life arrangement, or simply an interesting juxtaposition of colours or shapes in my studio – whatever it is, my final intentions are realised when all distractions are stripped away in a moment of clarity.""