VICTORIA LEMON

BUILDING ON HER ARTIST’S DREAM

Gill Sherry

Artist, Victoria Lemon, has a beautiful home. There’s much to admire about the traditional, sandstone fronted property, both inside and out. However, it’s the artwork on display inside the house that really catches my eye.

Victoria specialises in hand-drawn home portraits. The detail is incredible and the overall effect, quite stunning.

“I’ve always been very creative,” Victoria begins. “I really enjoyed colouring in at primary school and I always loved art competitions.”

Her parents were very supportive of her creative aspirations from day one, and her father remains a strong influence since sadly passing away in October.

“Recently, I’ve seen some of his old school jotters and he was really good at artwork. He was a beautiful draughtsman, he just never really followed that career. And my mum has always been my biggest cheerleader.”

Victoria attended Alloway Primary School but it was at Belmont Academy where she really discovered her love of art and design.

“My first strong influence was one of my teachers, Mrs Johnstone, she could see the potential in my drawings. She opened my eyes to the idea of going to art school.”

Victoria originally applied to study Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh and remembers feeling crushed when she wasn’t accepted. With hindsight, however, she realised that her portfolio at the time was very design led and that Fine Art was not the way forward.

“I’ve always loved to put a lot of detail in my work,” she confirms. “I would sit for hours to get a tiny little section of a still life done.”

She went on to secure a place at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow but again, after a year and a half, decided it wasn’t the subject or career path for her.

“I was 17… and I think the seven-year course was probably a lot to take on. I loved the drawing aspect but I didn’t have the same passion as the other students with a more technical aspect.”

Instead, she enrolled at Cardonald College and did a Higher National Diploma in 3D Design.

“My specialism was jewellery and silversmithing. It was still linked to structure but on a smaller scale. Now I could make what I was drawing which was quite satisfying.”

She describes this as a stepping stone back to art school because after the HND, she reapplied to do her BA (Hons) in Silversmithing and Jewellery, graduating with a First Class Hons in 2010.

As part of her degree, she enjoyed a six-month semester in Melbourne, Australia.

“It was a great experience,” she says, remembering the different culture. “I got to try some enamelling and some printmaking and typography. That steered me into looking at different lettering and printmaking techniques.”

Although she was still some years away from what she considers her calling, this had a big influence on her future artwork.

“I loved looking at old shop fronts and old Victorian typography. I loved the quality of the drawings because obviously there wasn’t much photography back then. It was all about the drawings and the quality of the line. That was a big part of my degree show work and in some ways, that’s still evident in my drawings today… just looking at glimpses of the past.”

I raise my eyes to one of her framed drawings and know exactly what she means. But she hasn’t quite reached that part of her story…

“My first proper design job out of art school was in Hertfordshire. I started off as a design assistant. I loved it, but looking back I think I was a bit homesick.”

There was also her partner, Stuart, to consider, so she applied for a job with The Ringmaker Glasgow and, as fate would have it, secured the role.

“I worked for The Ringmaker for nearly ten years, but then my childcare changed and that made me re-evaluate.”

After welcoming her two boys, Harrison and Carter, Victoria left jewellery designing behind and chose to focus on her home portraits and illustrations.

“I was always quite inspired by drawing different pieces of architecture, and I finally had the time to sit down and focus on it alongside bringing up my two wee boys. The first piece I did was for my dad’s 60th. He was from London… it’s all his favourite London buildings.”

It sits on the table in front of us. I recognise St Pancras Station and Hampton Court, but it also shows her father’s childhood home. At first glance, it looks just like a traditional row of handsome properties. It’s how she’s able to link such differing properties to make them look connected that really makes it work. And of course it’s the personal connection that makes it so special and unique.

“After that it just grew. I was asked to do a wedding venue for a family member. They were going to a wedding and wanted a unique gift to give.”

What a great idea!

“Buildings have always fascinated me. I’ve always loved looking at different architectural features… doors, letterboxes, door handles.”

There’s a beautiful drawing on the wall behind me. It shows the old Orient Cinema in Main Street, Ayr, its Art Deco design instantly recognisable. It’s titled Lost Ayr.

“I love brick buildings with lots of tiles… the ones that are slightly more rugged. I like buildings that are in disrepair, looking a bit tired, or perhaps not loved.”

Lost Ayr is one of the drawings that Victoria also has available to buy in print form. Which leads her to talk about her local community.

“It’s a nice community in Prestwick. I use the Waverley Gallery for my framing, Jaclyn is very supportive. I use Creatur in Ayr for high quality scans and for my prints. And a lot of my customers are from word of mouth.”

Based on the detail in her drawings and the amount of time she must spend creating them, I’m surprised at their affordability.
“They start at around £95 for an unframed A4. It’s very much dependant on the level of detail. I’m happy to work out quotes for people with no obligation.”

Commissions, for a single building, can take between four and six weeks. I ask Victoria to talk me through the process.

“I start off with pencil. I’m quite exact, that’s my architectural background coming out! I like to work to scale and work to proportion. Then I use a fine line pen in black ink and add colour with water colour. I use water colour in a much more concentrated way. I like the watery quality, it does lend itself to certain effects in my drawings.”

It may have taken her a few years to finally find her vocation but it was, she confirms, worth the wait.

“When Stuart and I first moved to Prestwick, I was pushing my first little boy in his pram and I remember thinking, I’d love to be working as an artist and focusing on my artwork. Now I’m finally settled and doing it. It’s lovely.”

You can find Victoria Lemon on Facebook and Instagram. Alternatively, send an email enquiry to victorialemonillustration@gmail.com.