Rebecca Pymar – from football to castles
Some artists have a style that is instantly recognisable and once you have seen the clear lines, bold colours and stylised buildings and landscapes, painted by Norwich -based artist Rebecca Pymar, you will recognise her work again, whether it is on a programme for Norwich City Football Club or on a poster of Southwold Pier.
Born and raised in Halesworth, Suffolk, Rebecca studied fine art at Loughborough University but, like many artists, found it difficult to find a full-time permanent job when she graduated.
“When you graduate it is with naivety and optimism that you want to become a full-time artist, “ remembered Rebecca.” It was very hard to find a job and after a few interviews and jobs here and there I thought, ‘you know what, other people do this, and I am going to try and start something’. I had no idea how hard it would be but was just ridiculously determined.”
Studying a fine art degree will open a student’s mind to the contextual ideas behind art, and the bones of what art is, philosophy and so on but relatively little time is spent on how to run a business as an artist who needs to produce calendars, mugs, prints and postcards from their original paintings, if they are to earn a living.
Rebecca laughed when asked if she always wanted to be an artist.
“Since I was a little girl I have always been sketching and was in a world of my own creating characters and drawing cartoons I also attended after-school art club. Then post-High School, I started playing around with colour and more architectural shapes. It was clear I was a creative person. I did both my Foundation and my Fine Art Degree at Loughborough University. The Foundation was one of the best bits because you are thrown into mark-making, colour studies, drawing, textiles, screen-printing, graphic design and a whirlwind of creative processes. From that you pick what you want to do. I considered doing illustration, but I am really pleased I did Fine Art as it helped me find my way and helped me to see the world in the way that I do.”
She uses acrylic paints on canvas for most of her paintings, but her distinctive style of abstract realism came from Rebecca’s love of screen printing which overlays colours, creates crisp lines, and is simple but effective.
“I lived near Southwold and liked walking around looking at the clear lines and the perspective of the sky so I did drawings of the coastline. I then introduced blocks of colour and it started to come together. The Southwold pier and the beach huts were my first paintings. Originally the idea was to do painting to sell in galleries but then Pete Hart from the newsagents Chapmans in Southwold, said I should put them on cards, and he would sell them. I realised if I was selling them as cards for just £2.50, I probably should do prints as well!”
Rebecca’s paintings may be stylised and deceptively simple, but each have a distinct sense of place that is instantly recognisable.
“I like each one to be a snapshot of a location that will trigger a memory and tap into the nostalgia of a lovely holiday, day out or occasion. If I can, I go to the location and do some scoping out. I am walking or sitting and suddenly a view will open up ahead of me, I take photos and then do sketches from that, which I then work into a composition that people instantly recognise from what they have seen too, walking around.”
Working on private commissions to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, or for a commercial partner always has its joys and its challenges.
‘I was commissioned by Felixstowe Book Festival to create an illustration they could use for their publicity and I wanted to celebrate the beautiful new pier. I added a chair, not a deckchair but a director’s chair. You can imagine the reader has left their book and popped off for an ice-cream! Another of my favourite commissions was for Norwich City Football Club for the cover of their programmes, a part of a series by different artists. The club had very specific requirements and I was happy to work with them. It was lovely to get my work to a completely different audience and the series became collectors’ items for many fans. I was then invited to do another design for their 2019 FA Cup programme. I think it would be wonderful for more people working in creative industries to pair up with sport.”
Commissions often come from unexpected places after someone has seen Rebecca’s work elsewhere. She has just done a series for Hammond and Stratford, estate agency, which features iconic locations such as Norwich Market, and Sandlings Saffron at Orford now have a new purple and yellow set of marketing materials, designed by Rebecca.
In lockdown, Rebecca provided free colouring sheets, on her website, of Norwich Market and Southwold Pier, available to download and, wanting to ‘do her bit’, she also designed a rainbow poster for the NHS which she sells online to raise money for the NHS Charities Together.
“I had many events booked and, when they were all cancelled, my head just went into a spin, but it was weird how things came together. It has been difficult but with the combination of online sales and the commissions I had to work on, it’s been a good year really. I have an exhaustive list of places and ideas that lockdown has given me time to develop. For example, I had previously done a travel poster of Rome and I want to do one of Venice. I would like to do more iconic locations. It is new work that keeps the whole thing going to and I have made the most of the opportunity – and headspace.”
Rebecca’s paintings are reminiscent of the old British Rail posters that are now so valued. It is an area that Rebecca would like to get into in the future.
“I would love to do some posters for the travel industry, train companies or coaches perhaps… that would be amazing. Transport for London have them all over the Tube so why not here – showing Suffolk and Norfolk villages perhaps.”
Rebecca now sells prints, cards, mugs and calendars featuring her work, which is available from her website and from locations such as Snape Maltings, Southwold, Framlingham and in Jarrolds in Norwich.
Currently Rebecca has sketched up a painting of Orford Castle which she hopes to have time to work on while things are quieter. Watch out, as it could be coming to a poster or mug near you, in a few months’ time!
(This article first appeared in Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine in February 2021 )