Nicky May

Nicky May, artist

Nicky May has painted since she was a small child.  Her career started, though, in the voluntary sector, including Voluntary Service Overseas in Papua New Guinea and Kenya. She worked in senior management for Oxfam, and then a series of voluntary organisations, as well as doing freelance work evaluating the effectiveness of development projects in Africa and Asia. Painting was throughout all this time her refuge, and a way of looking more closely at the world around her.

She turned seriously to painting in 1994. Her only formal art training was through the Open College of the Arts. She spent many years under the tutelage of Norman Rechter, a renowned European watercolourist, and more recently has been fired up by a series of workshops by the abstract landscape painter and teacher, Louise Fletcher.

In 2002 she gained a Diploma in Studio Ceramics, and worked mainly as a potter for 10 years or so, making sculptural pots.  In 2012 she was “called”  back to the easel by a strong need for colour and since then has concentrated on painting.

She is a member of The Cornwall Watercolour Society, East Cornwall Society of Artists, and Art of Gwynngala.  She has shown work in galleries and exhibitions through the South West and in Oxford and London.

Nicky’s work starts from the landscape or being by the sea, but is painted in the studio from the memory of how each place felt. This is helped by mark-making sketches made on site of details that excited her: she may collage these sketches into the work as it develops, but does not plan directly from sketches, preferring to work freely as paint and feelings flow.

Nicky loves the wild and natural places, which reward listening as well as intense looking. When painting, Nicky aspires to find echoes of the past as well as impressions of the present moment.  Through the seasons inland, there is an ever-changing procession of flowers and vegetation, primrose and campion ceding to wild carrot and sorrel on the verges, and this feeds her passion for colour and texture. The sea’s wild force and strength is different day to day and brings gesture and dynamism to my work.

Nicky paints mostly in acrylic and watercolour, enlivened with collage and marks made with watercolour pencils and wax crayons.  Her work is usually many layers deep, which adds depth and history to each piece.  Painting mostly from instinct and memory,  her painting process remains dynamic as it progresses.

Nicky’s passion is summed up by her statement below,

“Generally I think painting is about the most fun a person can have.”


Winter Hedge - Nicky May

“Winter Hedge”


Autumn Colour Lingers Into Winter - Nicky May

“Autumn Colour Lingers Into Winter”


Swannacott Woods - Nicky May

“Swannacott Woods”


Dark Waves - Nicky May

“Dark Waves”


Dreaming Of Summer - Nicky May

“Dreaming of Summer”