An artist mom who wanted to find a medium which made less mess now creates stunning pieces – using just BIRO pens.
Nicola McBride, 48, was eager to unleash her creativity but lacked a studio space and had a child to look after.
She needed an artform that could be taken out and put away at a moment’s notice – so tuned to Bic Biros.
Nicola uses only eight colors of biro pens to create her works – layering the dark tones over the light multiple times to add depth.
Each piece takes multiple days – with her smaller A4 works taking a day or two and larger one-meter paintings taking up to five weeks.
Nicola, from Perth, Scotland, creates stunning pop art with the ballpoint pens.
Her work often represents childhood memories – including Tunnock’s Teacakes, Irn-Bru and The Beano.
Nicola is now preparing for her largest exhibition yet at Fotheringham Gallery in Bridge of Allan set to open on October 21.
She said “I needed a medium that I could work at the kitchen table with.
”Something that wasn’t messy and that could be taken out and put away quite quickly.
“I’m a part-time art teacher, and I teach with black biro pen quite a lot, which I really love, so I started off with black biro – just drawing the dog.
“I posted a couple of photographs on Facebook, and I got an overwhelming response asking about pet commissions.
“I progressed into color and that lasted about a year before I started thinking, ‘I don’t want to draw dogs for the rest of my life!
“I was wondering what else I could draw, and childhood memories sparked in my mind.
“I thought that Tunnock’s teacakes would be a perfect starting point, as there’s plenty of text. I gradually progressed from there.
“My main influences come from pop art – I was really influenced by Andy Warhol.
I’m really attracted by ordinary objects that can become art.”
Nicola has been an artist since graduating from university in 1997 – but when she became a mum 11 years ago, she took a break from her career as an abstract artist.
She said: “I was an abstract artist when I graduated from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, but I took a break when we adopted our son eleven years ago.
“I moved house several times and never had a studio space, but I was quite keen to get back into art.
“I’ve always been interested in branding, texts and fonts. From the age of about five, I’ve been fascinated by text.”
As she began introducing colour, she became eager to find a new subject to draw – and was drawn to the blocky text featured on Tunnock’s teacakes.
Her first teacake painting sold in under 24 hours – and now all of Nicola’s Tunnock’s artworks are fully approved and endorsed directly with the company.
Now eager to challenger herself further, Nicola has begun introducing gin and Irn-Bru glass bottles into her artworks.
After posting some of her portraits on Facebook in 2019, she began receiving requests for commissions to draw other people’s pets.
She said: “As I keep drawing, I reminisce about different Scottish things from the way I was brought up.
”I’m quite patriotic, so I quite like to draw Scottish products!
“I like challenging myself with Irn-Bru bottles in particular, the distortion process.
“The Harris bottle of gin is an absolute pain to draw, but I love doing it. Every time I start it, I wonder why I’ve started doing it again.
”No two bottles are the same, but I love the way the light forces through them.
“I work from photographs, but I always exaggerate the color from the photographs.
“A lot of my new pieces feature very little plain backgrounds.
”I block the background in with acrylic to create contrast with my subject, but I’m trying to reduce that more and more.
”A small piece that’s maybe A4, I can do in a couple of days if I’m focused.
“I use Bic biro pens, so I’m restricted to about eight colors that I can actually use.
”I have to layer, otherwise I can’t get the tones and the colors accurate.
Now preparing for her exhibition, Nicola has grand plans for the future – including plans to do a her biggest piece of work yet.
“My vision is to do a really, really big piece at some point – it just takes so long!” she said.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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