Meet Mani Parkes from Mani Annie Art
Artist Mani Parkes takes pleasure in the small things. Her paintings capture a slower life, imbued with optimism, joy and simple pleasures, far removed from the anxieties of the modern world. In our Meet the Maker interview, Mani talks to fellow Folksy seller Bronwen from Ink & Clay about her creative process, her optimistic outlook on life and her wish to share the loveliness that she sees in the world through her art.
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I love to create acrylic paintings that make people smile. I feel very fortunate that I’m an artist, so when other people look at my work I would like them to feel happy and content too.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
Hi Mani! Would you be able to introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Hello, I’m Mani Parkes (Mani Annie Art), an artist from Lincolnshire and I love to create acrylic paintings that make people smile. I live in an old house with my husband and two children, a dog called Florence (my studio assistant) and a giant African land snail called Clementine. The snail belongs to our daughter Daisy but as she’s away at uni I’m chief snailsitter!
I exhibit my work in British galleries, paint commissions and I’m lucky to have a selection of paintings published as Limited Edition prints by Aquarelle Publishing. My little Folksy shop is where I sell original paintings, tiny paintings on wood and greeting cards published by Green Pebble Publishers.
My parents have often told me that as soon as I could hold a pencil, all I ever wanted to do was draw.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
How did you start in art and how important is it to you to awaken artistic flare in younger people?
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be an artist. My parents have often told me that as soon as I could hold a pencil, all I ever wanted to do was draw. Art was my favourite subject throughout school and while studying I was encouraged by my brilliant art teacher Mrs Forman. She was such a cool lady, always enthusiastic and she wore the brightest tights you have ever seen.
I’m not quite sure if my art appeals to younger people but if by seeing my work it encourages one child to pick up a pencil or a paintbrush and create a drawing or a painting then I would be over the moon.
Your subjects usually seem refreshingly content and optimistic. Does this reflect your own character or is this because you find drawing and painting a calming process in an otherwise unruly world?
Yes, I would like to think that it does reflect my character. I try and look on the bright side of life and I’m always looking for beautiful things to be inspired by. I feel very fortunate that I’m an artist, so when other people look at my work I would like them to feel happy and content too. I hope my work illustrates the loveliness that I see in the world.
I hope my work illustrates the loveliness that I see in the world.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
I find process of painting to be a peaceful experience and when I paint I retreat into my own little world. There is nothing that I enjoy more than sitting at my living room table to paint with a nice cup of tea and Radio 4 tinkling along in the background.
There is nothing that I enjoy more than sitting at my living room table to paint with a nice cup of tea and Radio 4 tinkling along in the background.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
Which artists work do you admire most and which type of art leaves you cold?
That’s such a difficult question, there are so many wonderful artists that I admire it’s really difficult to choose. Going back in time I love the work of Sandro Botticelli, Giotto and Toulouse-Lautrec. Presently I’m besotted with the art of Elaine Pamphilon, Dee Nickerson, Emma McClure, Mary Newcomb, Mary Fedden, Sarah Bowman, Kirsty Elson, Lucy Saggers Photography, Anna Wilson-Patterson, Valeriane Leblond and Hannah Cole to name a few!
I’m not sure if any type of art leaves me cold, as I can appreciate the amount of work and time that has gone into creating a piece of work but I wasn’t that keen on the banana taped to the wall!
Have you been tempted by other expressive media?
While studying at UWE and Edinburgh College Of Art I experimented with a lot of printmaking techniques and I really enjoyed that process. I do like the idea of trying my hand at pottery and photography. More recently I’ve been considering working with oil paints, as I’ve spotted a lovely range of water soluble oil paints, which I think sound quite interesting to use. As my degree was in illustration, book illustration is definitely something that I’m intrigued by and I would love to pursue that path in the future.
My sketchbooks are a truly messy affair and look completely different to the finished painting but I would like to think they have their own special charm!Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
Take us through your creative process. What piques your interest first and how do you go about capturing it within a work. How do you know when your work is complete?
Once I have an idea, I draw a simple, scruffy doodle in my sketchbook, jotting down ideas as I go. My sketchbooks are a truly messy affair and look completely different to the finished painting but I would like to think they have their own special charm! As soon as I’m happy with the sketch, I settle down to the actual painting.
I’m often inspired by the simplest of things, such as the day-to-day sights that I see and I’m obsessed with details. I love anything that’s old and quirky. I’ve just discovered Elm Hill in Norwich, which is the cutest old street I have ever seen! I love charming buildings and quirky characters, nature and dogs! I often find myself thinking, ‘I would really like to paint that’.
This may sound a little bit strange but a painting sort of tells me when it’s finished. I just know when I shouldn’t meddle with it anymore.
Are there works in your portfolio that you are particularly proud of or that you feel represent the best of your work to date?
Yes, there are a few older paintings that I have a fondness for such as ‘A Bicycle Ride To Lulworth Cove’, ‘Late For College’ and ‘Before The Storm’. Curiously, each one features a bicycle. Hopefully, as time goes by, my work will improve but in recent weeks I’ve created a series of paintings for The Red Rag Gallery Winter Show. ‘Make A Wish’ and ‘The Cauliflower Patch’ stand out as my favourites from this collection.
My wonderful dad is a retired carpenter and with a little bit of help from my husband they are converting our old brick shed into an art studio. After years of working from my living room table I’m finally going to have my own studio and I couldn’t be happier or more excited.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
If time and money were no object, what major artistic project would you like to undertake and what would you like it to achieve?
Well, it’s funny that you should ask me that question as there is a major artistic project taking place in my garden at the moment. After years of working from my living room table I’m finally going to have my own studio and I couldn’t be happier or more excited. My wonderful dad is a retired carpenter and with a little bit of help from my husband they are converting our old brick shed into an art studio. This will make such a difference to my life. It will be so lovely to have a peaceful space to work from which is separate from our home, and as it’s situated at the bottom of our garden I shall only have a short commute to work.
This may sound a little bit strange but a painting sort of tells me when it’s finished. I just know when I shouldn’t meddle with it anymore.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
Do you hope that in the future your current portfolio will be seen as a reflection on how people aspire to live today?
I would be so happy if that were true. I’m a huge advocate of living a simple life and I take great pleasure in the smallest of things. Hopefully my work illustrates my outlook on life. The fast pace of the modern world makes me feel a little anxious sometimes, so I would love it if people could be inspired by my paintings to slow down a bit and appreciate the little things.
The fast pace of the modern world makes me feel a little anxious sometimes, so I would love it if people could be inspired by my paintings to slow down a bit and appreciate the little things.Mani Parkes, Mani Annie Art
How do you relax and switch off? Have you time for gardening or a hobby?
I wish I had more time to spend in the garden because I really appreciate being outside surrounded by nature. As an artist I seem to spend a lot of time indoors, so when it’s nice weather I try and get out in the fresh air to feel the sun on my face. I’m attempting to create a cottage garden and eventually we would really love our own vegetable patch but as you can imagine at the moment the bottom of the garden looks a little bit like a building site.
To switch off, I love to spend time with my family, read, walk the dog, watch movies and listen to music. Once a week I attend a wonderful yoga class, which is the perfect way to unwind after a long day.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year x x x x
Get 15% off Mani Annie Art with code ‘ChristmasPudding’ on all orders before 6th January 2020.
Shop Mani Annie Art on Folksy
Meet the Interviewer
This week the maker asking the question is Bronwen Wells from Ink & Clay.
You can read our interview with Bronwen here – https://blog.folksy.com/2019/12/09/ink-and-clay-handmade-pottery
Shop Ink & Clay on Folksy here – https://folksy.com/shops/InknClay