Home InterviewsMeet the Maker Jo Roper: a joyful life in pictures

Jo Roper: a joyful life in pictures

by Camilla

A lot of my work is based on my own feelings of love for my family and you can often see this in my pieces. Some show tales of my own life – it’s my life told in pictures.

Artist Jo Roper paints because she loves it… and you really feel that when you look at her work. The pleasure and joy painting gives her comes straight from her heart, through the brush and on to the canvas. She was born in Liverpool, where she still lives with her husband, daughter, much-loved bunny Flopsy George and the latest addition to their family, Ruby the Cavapoo – and these happy family scenes often make it into her art, which she describes as her life told in pictures. We caught up with Jo to find out more…

Can you introduce yourself?
Hi there, I’m Jo and I’m an artist living in the very busy city of Liverpool. I work in my home studio, which always seems to be in a state of organised mess. I live with my husband, our beautiful 10-year-old daughter, our mini lop bunny ‘Flopsy George’ and our latest addition Ruby, who is our adorable cavapoo puppy.

Jo Roper quote

My bunnies are my favourite animal to draw. They’ve been with me for such a long time. Our very own mini lop ‘Flopsy George’ has influenced so many of my bunny pieces and I adore him.

How would you describe what you do?
I paint in a style often referred to as whimsical. A lot of my work is based on my own feelings of love for my family and you can often see this in my pieces. Some will show tales of my own life – it’s my life told in pictures. I always begin with a pencil sketch and then I use various mediums – sometimes I’ll paint with watercolours on paper and other times I’ll paint with acrylic on canvas. I’ve worked with collage in the past too and hope to revisit it in future pieces. My commission pieces are more often watercolour paintings.

When did you first pick up a paint brush?
I guess like many of us I will have painted in nursery school and my passion for creating art goes back to my years in junior school. I was one of 12 kids who won a ‘road safety’ art competition and each of us had our painting used as the imagery on a large calendar poster. I was thrilled. I still have the poster today and still feel proud all these years later.

Jo Roper 1985 Calendar

In junior school I won an art competition and the council used my painting on a large poster. I still feel proud all these years later.

When and how did you start selling your work?
I first began selling my work to my colleagues in the bank where I worked in the 1990s. After the birth of my daughter in 2004 I began selling at local art markets and I still do now and then. I enjoy seeing my local clients and meeting new people.

I can sing a rainbow painting, Jo Roper

Sometimes I think a piece is finished and then I’ll look at it and feel I need to add something. Usually it’s just a case of adding more stars to the sky… there can never be too many stars in the sky!

How do your pieces develop?
I always begin with a pencil sketch, which usually goes straight on to the paper or canvas, depending on what medium I’m using. I paint in layers to give the painting depth, so as each layer needs time to dry I work on a couple of pieces at a time. Once each piece is thoroughly dry I scan it, ready for printing. I have my larger prints printed by my local printer and I have a special printer in the studio for the smaller prints. The beauty of printing my own work is that I can launch a new print on the same day as the original is completed.

How do you know when a piece is finished?
Sometimes I think a piece is finished and then I’ll look at it and feel I need to add something, although not very often. Usually it’s just a case of adding more stars to the sky that I painted… there can never be too many stars in the sky!

Mama Elephant print by Jo Roper

One of my favourite prints and probably the most meaningful is my ‘Mamma and Baby Elephant‘ because it depicts one of my favourite memories when my daughter and I made the most beautiful rainbows by spraying mists of water among the sun rays.

Do you have a favourite piece?
A favourite print of mine and probably the most meaningful is my ‘Mamma and Baby Elephant‘ because it depicts one of my favourite memories…

One hot summer’s day after school my daughter and I played in the garden and as it was so hot out came the water hose – much to our delight. We made the most beautiful rainbows by spraying mists of water among the sun rays. As in the painting, I did indeed protect myself with a brolly when it was my daughter’s turn with the hose. That afternoon was special to me and the painting will always be a fond reminder of it.

Jo Roper's studio

My perfect studio would have a comfy seating areas for dreaming up designs, coffee-making facilities and a huge window overlooking the river.

Where do you work?
I’m very lucky to have a home studio – a room I can close the door on when I’ve finished work for the day. I used to use the kitchen table until we moved to a bigger house, so I feel very privileged to have the space needed to run a business from home. I have to admit I’m a messy worker and my work space is always a little untidy but it’s kind of organised…

How about your dream studio – what would that be like?
My dream studio would be at least four times as big, with a comfy seating area that I would make good use of dreaming up more designs. It would also have room for coffee-making facilities with a huge window overlooking the river. That would be perfect. Although I think I’d spend most of the day gazing at boats and seagulls.

Jo Roper Bunny Paintings

I adore my daughter’s drawings and paintings and she inspires me to create work from my heart.

Who or what inspires you?
I take inspiration from so many different things. I adore my daughter’s drawings and paintings and she inspires me to create work from my heart. I love children’s books and the illustrations that adorn their pages are such a joy for me to gaze at. I love walks in the park, I love the countryside and this summer our holiday in Cornwall proved to be a wealth of inspiration for me – I can’t wait to sift through my photographs and paint.

What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist. When I was in school that’s what I dreamed of being. Art means so much to me, so to be able to do what I love and earn a living from it is a dream come true. I love my job.

Jo Roper painting

What would I say to someone thinking of selling their work? Do it. Stay true to your own style, create from your heart and believe in the work you make.

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
I say do it. Stay true to your own style, create from your heart and believe in the work you make. Most of all you have to enjoy it. Go for it!

Do you think there’s a distinction between art and craft?
I definitely consider my work as art. As a seller and lover of handmade items I see many other artistic creations online and at art markets. I guess it’s personal perception, but I think if something is created using your hands, then it’s artistic in some way or other, so therefore it can be described as art.

Ruby is

Our latest family addition, Ruby our Cavapoo puppy, is becoming a favourite of mine to paint.

Which animal or character is your favourite to draw?
Ah, I have to say my bunnies. They’ve been with me for such a long time and they’re the main reason why my Facebook page is so popular. Our very own mini lop ‘Flopsy George’ has influenced so many of my bunny pieces and I adore him. I have to say that our latest family addition, Ruby our Cavapoo puppy, is also becoming a favourite of mine to paint. She is adorable and will be appearing in more of my paintings.

How would you spend your perfect day?
Part of the day would involve painting because I love it so much. Other than that, though, I love spending time with my husband and our daughter. The perfect day would be jumping in the car with a big picnic and going for a drive to a town we’ve never visited before. We’d take a walk through the woods or the park and then visit pretty gift shops and galleries. Sampling the coffee and cake in a little cafe before coming home is a must, of course. After the drive home it would be feet up and a relaxing evening chatting or, dare I say it, watching a bit of telly.

 

Jo Roper bunnies in love painting

See more of Jo’s wonderful work in her Folksy shop >

To celebrate being a featured maker Jo is offering 20% off everything with the discount code SUMMER20 – valid until midnight 1st September 2015.

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