AS A child, Geraldine Thompson loved to sit beside her father and watch him sketch.

That early fascination was to grow into a career that has seen the Addingham-based artist produce exceptional landscape, portrait and figurative work, and exhibit widely across the country.

She has also received commissions to paint prominent individuals, in particular leading members of the clergy.

“My interest in the visual arts began from an early age, when I found aspects of drawing and painting intriguing,” she says. “My father worked in ship building and repair for a Liverpool-based company and I can remember watching him construct technical drawings using set squares and logarithms. He then took us around the factory floor and dry dock to show us how these drawings evolved into actual ship parts.

“However, it was watching him away from engineering work that I was fascinated sitting on the arm of the chair watching his personal sketches come alive.”

The same can be said of Geraldine’s paintings – her captivating flowers and birds, and racehorses jostling for position on the track.

“For many years I rode horses, so painting equestrian subjects such as a farrier at work shoeing horses and racing subjects came naturally,” she says. “We used to go down to Windsor to research the Cartier International Polo – these paintings were exhibited in London galleries.”

It was during this time that Monsignor John Kennedy, rector of the Venerable English College in Rome, saw Geraldine’s work and told her: “If you can paint a horse like that you can paint me.”

She researched extensively into conservation, knowing that the commission would be hanging in a 500-year-old building in Rome.

The portrait was unveiled ceremoniously in England and again in Rome, and so began a series of portrait commissions including the Bishop of Leeds David Konstant, Archbishop Warlock of Liverpool and various medics, military personnel and academics.

Her work hangs in many public and private collections across the world, including France, Spain, Italy, the USA and Australia. She exhibits in Yorkshire and London, with Leeds Fine Artists, The Ilkley Art Trail and in her own studio-gallery a number of times each year.

Growing up in Liverpool, Geraldine trained in both education and art in Hull, qualified as a teacher and taught for seven years in Liverpool primary schools while continuing to develop her own work.

She completed a Master’s Degree in Fine Art at the University of Leeds Bretton Hall, combining her own work with a successful career as lecturer and programme manager.

She works in oil, enjoying its “tactile qualities, luscious colours, blendability.”

“I also draw using sticks and ink, graphite, charcoal and paint using brushed, fingers, rags, knives, whatever it takes to create the desired effect.”

Geraldine’s portraits are commanding and memorable. “My aim is to depict a likeness, a character, a presence within a picture. For me the execution of a portrait is not self-contained, nor is it just about the technical ability developed over years of life drawing. Rather it is a demanding process in which drawing and painting are entwined in a dialogue between sitter and painter revealing aspects of both.

“Sensitive to the person and personality behind each face, alert to changes in facial expression and body language, meetings for that one-to-one personal connection is essential for research and initial studies.

“Although two-hour regular sittings are ideal, photography provides a valuable reference tool, though not for use alone, allowing portraits to be completed from a combination of sittings and photography.

Portraits are usually life size, in oils on linen canvas, and can take up to six months.”

She adds: “When painting portraits I consider how the subject presents and sees themselves – which of the many faces they choose to show me.”

“I also consider my obligation to the sitter, my empathetic interpretive response and where the portrait will hang.”

The changing atmosphere of the landscape lies at the heart of her striking Yorkshire scenes.

“The fells and waters of Wharfedale are my muse along with the coastal regions.

“Drawing and painting out in the countryside, I’m recording sensations, emotional and visual responses connecting me to the land and nature.

“In the studio, with a combination of sketchbook studies, colour notes, plein-air paintings and/or photographs for reference, I relate to and develop my research.”

The creative practice involves applying, removing and modifying layers of paint over time, responding to the interconnectedness of colour transformed by light and the mixing of colours on the painting surface, she explains.

“Responding to nature’s transformations, I explore materials, mixed media and degrees of unpredictability in which texture plays a significant aspect as I am particularly interested in the processes and outcomes of the actual paint surface as it becomes a compelling vehicle of expression.”

Geraldine always has a rucksack packed with sketch books watercolours, gouache and pastels, plus a pochade box with oils and a camera, ready to go.

“The early morning and evening light can be the most interesting and dramatic. Out in the field one or more paintings may be done in a day, trying to capture the energy of the subject. Emotional responses – sight, smell, temperature, drama and energy of nature are essential contributors.”

In the studio, larger paintings may take weeks or months, with several on the go at once.

Geraldine plans a painting in sketches, colour notes and workbooks, making references to use later.

“Paintings may begin on a studio easel, progress to a table and even the floor. It’s interesting looking at my oil paintings years after they have been completed and as they become enriched and improved with age,” she says.

l Geraldine’s Studio at 2 Chapel Street, Addingham, is open on Saturday, December 2, and Sunday, December 3, (10.30am 4.30pm). To find out more visit or e-mail her at