Laura Loveday is an artist and illustrator from Cornwall, UK, who has freelanced for companies such as Nobu Hotel and Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, as well as taking private commissions.
Originally from the North West of England, Laura studied and gained a distinction at Falmouth College of Arts and remained in Cornwall, which had, by then, become a great inspiration for her work. Being immersed in unspoilt country every day spurred her to draw the nature she saw around her, though she rarely paints seascapes, because: “You don’t see foxes and owls in the Atlantic. There are plenty of artists painting the same view of St Michael’s Mount and they’d do it far better than I would. I’m a landlubber in an artistic sense.”
One theme running though Laura’s work is the sense of preciousness. As well as making pencil studies and jewel-like portrait miniatures of hares and crows in Elizabethan garb, Laura creates paintings on wood which often focuses on and emphasises the value and importance of nature. Taking inspiration from Japanese art from the 17th and 18th centuries, the meaning of Ma, and the Arts and Crafts movement, gold leaf surrounds portraits from nature as a halo-like, framing device for the highly-detailed studies of the natural world.
Not content to only work on 2D surfaces, Laura has also been known to paint furniture to create truly unique, one of a kind pieces. As these are very detailed and time consuming, her decorated furniture is usually limited to two or three items a year, or when time allows. As with the ethical sourcing of reclaimed wood to use as boards for her paintings, Laura seeks out vintage supplies of wood furniture to restore and paint.
"(On painting furniture) I like the variation. I'd been painting my furniture at home for years and thought nothing of it. It was just making it more personal to me, but then friends and family would give me furniture they had but hated. They'd challenge me to make them like that old dresser or old chair they were going to throw out, and it spiralled from there. Now, though, I only paint furniture if it more or less screams 'save me!' It's not like I actively go out looking, but If I see something which looks appropriately down on its luck – a bit tired and unloved, y'know? I want to make it loved and usable again. I wouldn't paint anything which is in beautiful condition and cover up walnut veneer or anything heretical like that. It has to have a wonky leg or ripped fabric and nobody's interested in it anymore, so I can give it a new life. Like a very intense makeover, I guess!"
Being mindful of nature and the world is at the forefront of Laura’s ethos in regards to her art and life. Her policy is quite strict and time-consuming at times, involving research, not just on materials, but of the companies behind them.
Because of the subject matter of a lot of my work, I thought it'd be hypocritical of me to use animal hair brushes to paint with, or to use toxic or wasteful materials. I just didn't want to use them, in all honesty. It's a personal choice. There was a lot of research and testing of many different products before I could identify the best materials which also were also safe and cruelty free. I try to my best ability to make my art as ethical as possible through a strict policy of refurbishing, restoring, upcycling or repurposing furniture and salvaged wood as on top of using ethically sourced materials. Sometimes It's difficult to find alternatives because some companies are very evasive about the potential impact of whatever they make, but there are non-toxic paints, epoxy resins and cruelty-free brushes around. I avoid the use of plastics throughout the production and packaging so practically everything is recyclable. Basically, I use the best quality materials I can find which won't yellow or fade over time and which leave as small an imprint on the environment as possible. Then I can sleep at night, because I'm trying my best! (laughs)."
Upon asking Laura about what’s next for her, she said that she’d love to write and illustrate a book at some point, and to hold relaxed art classes with a goal to demystify drawing for others. She feels very strongly that more people should try art as a creative outlet and form of expression in a supportive environment. The first thing she hears from most people when discussing art is that they’d love to be able to draw but can’t. “Who says?” Laura asks. “Ultimately, I think one of the greatest gifts people can learn through art is to not to judge themselves so harshly. Art is such a personal thing, I don’t think anyone has a right to say when something’s good or bad, but all you need is one nasty art teacher laughing at a sketch you did when you were seven and it can put people off for life. It’s good art if it means something to you. It doesn’t have to mean something to everyone else. Just you. It’s selfish in that sense and there’s nothing wrong with that – there are so many benefits to just drawing. If you’re drawing a flower, say, you focus so much on that flower and trying to make your hands help you draw what you see or making whatever you’re feeling visible at a particular moment, it’s very cathartic. Art takes practice like everything in life, but it can be so much fun practicing and seeing yourself improve every day and just enjoying it.”