Excellence Connoisseur: Clare Brownlow

Le Chameau spent an afternoon with Clare Brownlow, a pheasant feather artist featured in BBC Countryfile and a proud Le Chameau Excellence Connoisseur to find out more about her Pheasant Feather Art, country passions and her favourite pair of Chameaus. Clare has been drawing and painting since she was old enough to hold a pencil and brush. She was an Art Scholar at Uppingham and went on to study art at Edinburgh College of Art and Leith School of Art where she specialised in atmospheric oil paintings. After the birth of her first son in 2009, in a quiet moment in her parent’s kitchen table in Norfolk, Pheasant Feather Art was born. Ever since Clare has been involved in a number of large projects, designing the front cover for the 25th anniversary of the Scone Game Fair as well as winning the competition for the design of the front cover for the CLA Game Fair 2014. She was shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2014 and has worked closely with as well as donated paintings to a number of charities including Tusk Trust, Born Free Foundation and GWCT. LC: Hi Clare, please tell us a little bit about yourself. CB: I live in the Scottish countryside with my two boys, Lab, spaniel and amazing husband Charlie. Charlie and I are both self employed and passionate about the British countryside. Charlie is a sporting agent as well as running a fantastic company called Finhunter UK that recycles waders that would be land fill but he recycles them into amazing products. I am an artist that paints with pheasant feathers. I came about this technique purely by accident whilst at home at my parents house in Norfolk. People always asked for commissions and said I should do cards, prints, and other products. It grew very organically and I have gone on to sell my originals worldwide! LC: What does a day in the life of Clare Brownlow look like? CB: I get up at around 6 am, have a cup of tea and light the fire in my studio. If the boys are up earlier than me, I normally get woken by either a guitar or a trombone by the not so talented boys! After breakfast, we do some homework and a bit of rugby or fly tying, then the boys walk to school and I head straight to the studio. I get all the paperwork out of the way, then get the feathers out! I try and stay in the studio as long as possible. CB: During the fishing season, the boys like to race back, get their kit and go down to the river. If I have commissions or big show coming up I go back to the studio after the boys are in bed to get some more work done. LC: How did you get the idea for your business and how have you grown your brand? CB: The idea came about purely by accident and I never thought that it would grow as much as it has. I am the kind of person who can’t sit still, so when my amazing Mother took my son Harry off my hands for 5 minutes in Norfolk I simply picked up a feather and started to paint! The way I have grown my brand is simply by listening to what people are after and try my best to do deliver. LC: Where do you get your inspiration from? CB: We are the luckiest family to live where we do, as we are constantly surrounded by wildlife. Anytime I look out the studio windows, I see pheasants, herons, hares, my kids! As a family, we love the countryside and spend every day in it, so inspiration is literally surrounding us. I am having a big exhibition with Patrick Mavros in London in September and have just come back from Kenya a month ago gathering sketches, photos and the most incredible amount of inspiration! LC: What is your favourite aspect of your job? CB: I love being able to work from home and also travel to amazing places with work. I get such a buzz when the boys come and play in the studio and create art with me. It's such a great feeling when I do a commission for someone and they are thrilled with the outcome. I have done some very special commissions for people who have made me cry once they saw the work, (in a good way!) LC: You live near the Scottish borders. How do the landscape and location impact your work and lifestyle? CB: The Borders are a stunning place to live with the most lovely people. the landscape here is simply breathtaking, at the top of the hill you can see for miles and miles and feel like you are on top of the world! LC: Which country pursuits do you enjoy the most? CB: I love going to the beach with my boys and play hide and seek in the dunes, especially when the dogs give you away! The boys and Charlie are obsessed with fishing and we love having long lunches at the fishing hut with BBQ’s and friends. We also go shooting where the boys are fantastic beaters and also load for me when they get the chance. LC: You’ve worked closely with and donated paintings to a number of charities including Tusk Trust, Born Free Foundation and GWCT. Why these charities in particular? CB: I grew up shooting, fishing and stalking with my father from an early age and now have two boys who are as keen as mustard in all things fieldsports and I want to make sure that the organisations who are researching our wildlife are here to show how important fieldsports are to the UK wildlife management. Tusk Trust and Born Free are incredible charities that are doing the most monumental work with the wildlife. CB: My father grew up in Kenya and I have had many opportunities to travel there and work on conservation projects such as the Grevy Zebra. I am having a big exhibition at Patrick Macros flagship London shop from the 27th September with proceeds going to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the charity closest to my heart in Kenya. LC: Where are your other favourite places in the UK and abroad? CB: I adore the West Coast of Scotland. We had some magical holidays there and the boys ran wild which is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is such a special place for us. Collecting muscles from the beach, throwing them on the fire and eating them straight away was incredible. Picnics by waterfalls and fishing for the ever elusive fish! Massive competition when it comes to who caught the most or the biggest in our family! We also travel to Donegal where the boys and I live in the sea and have a fantastic time with our Irish family. LC: Do you own a pair of Le Chameau boots? What do you like about them and when/where do you wear them? CB: I live in my Chameaus! I was given a pair for Christmas nearly 9 years ago and they still are as good as new. I do school runs, dog walks, gardening, shooting and fishing in my Chameaus and I always wear them when I am at outdoor shows like Game Fair…. you could say, I literally live in them! They are the warmest, cosiest and comfiest pair of boots I own! To find out more about Clare and to browse some of her original artwork, visit her website: www.clarebrownlow.co.uk