Author: Jenny Shepherd

Q&A with Midnight to 6

Based in London, Midnight to 6 is a fusion of illustration, artwork and design inspired by travel, wildlife and culture from emerging artist Ellie Mountfort.

Best known for her botanical paintings, specialising in hand-painted artwork using watercolour and gouache from the beauty of nature captured across the world, these textures are brought to life in vivid colour. Each piece has a unique whimsical style to inspire a sense of imagination and appreciation for the ever-changing beauty of our planet. All artworks are produced as ethically as possible and designed in her botanical London studio.

Check out our exclusive Q&A with Ellie below!

 Q&A with Midnight to 6 | Image

 

AR: What was the driving force behind your choice to become an artist?

Originally, my artwork started out as a platform in which I wanted to be more sustainable, compared to the fashion design industry I had designed in for over 10 years. Over the past year, I began to shift my focus from womenswear design into art and illustration, and incorporated my own personal style into this new platform. I had become a part of the throw away fashion culture and I wanted to rebel against this and produce lasting artwork that can be appreciated. There is a great satisfaction in creating and interpreting a moment in colour that the viewer can be transported into and draw pleasure from. It can last a lifetime.

AR: Does your artwork have a message? 

The message behind my work is simply to showcase the incredible colour of the planet around us. The moments we miss that can be captured in a still painting and treasure the beauty we take for granted. Sustainability has always been at the heart of my work and I am constantly challenging myself to be as sustainable and ethical as possible.

AR: Do you keep tabs on art trends or are you all about doing your own thing?

I do follow current events, not just in art but in all aspects of life. I think it is natural for an artist to be affected by the environment around them. Take lockdown for example, which made me want to paint more than ever when I couldn’t travel. I wanted to capture everything I had seen previously that I never had a chance to paint. Although I follow other art trends I try to stay as true to my personal style as possible, to keep my work original, unique and enjoyable.

 

Q&A with Midnight to 6 | Image 

AR: What/who are your biggest influences? 

Travelling. It might sound like a total cliché but I never feel more inspired than when I’m exploring somewhere new. Plants, nature, architecture, colours and diverse cultures different to my normal routine free up my creativity to paint new experiences. I have always loved art and illustration from a young age. Artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Julie Verhoeven and Gustav Klimt never fail to inspire me with their imagination, stark symbolism of nature, and use of vibrant colour.

AR: How has your life and experiences influenced your artwork?

Being in the fashion industry, I would collect vintage prints, recolour artworks, design womenswear garments, and travel to the most amazing countries. I have always loved the seventies era with beautiful bohemian dresses and the explosion of fun and colour across all art platforms. Although I had a career in fashion, I would often paint artworks for friends as a hobby, never imagining I could pursue it as a career. During the past year I started to document the artworks I would create for friends and their reaction was amazing! I started painting my favourite thing: plants. My house is full of them! I love the amazing colours in nature and once I started painting them, and the countries I have travelled to, I couldn’t stop. Now, I paint not just plants but bespoke commissions, such as human portraits, pet portraits, architecture and textile design among others!

AR: What did it feel like when you sold your first artwork?

Such a buzz! It was amazing to have my work appreciated by someone that didn’t know me and valued my skills. I still get excited when I get an order and it pushes me to keep trying new things and keep going!

AR: How have you developed your style?

I’ve always loved illustration, especially bohemian style, but it’s only recently I’ve started incorporating illustration into my own personal style. When I first started my art page, I would paint solo whimsical wildling animals. Now, I paint predominantly botanical landscapes which I absolutely love. I am happiest with a paintbrush in hand and my watercolours and gouache, painting the latest plant I’ve seen into my sketchbooks! I am diversifying all the time though, as really different bespoke orders come in. I love this as I get to learn and challenge myself with new subjects and styles.

 

Q&A with Midnight to 6 | Image

 

AR: Have you picked up any other skills in order to create your artwork that you weren’t expecting?

I have been experimenting with Copic pens lately, and I really love it for layering details on botanicals. I also love masking fluid (retro I know!) to be able to maximise my use of watercolour intensity without damaging the detail of my layered work.

AR: What’s your favourite piece in your portfolio and why?

This is a difficult question! My favourite artworks are the ones most naturally inspired, that you don’t even think about, you just paint. This was how I painted my Courtyard Corner from Abbot Kinney in Los Angeles. I wanted something bright and cheerful on my wall during Lockdown to lift my mood, so I reimagined the light hitting the leaves, the colours bouncing from the green leaves to the pink wall behind and the dimples of colour and sunshine it left on the surface of the leaf. I also love my ‘Mind Girl’ piece which is very symbolic to me. During Lockdown, many people struggled with anxiety and depression. Fears of how our life would change during and after this time. This piece is my personal reminder to look after my own mind garden and to remind myself that I have control over my own thoughts, no one else, and I choose to be positive.

 

AR: Describe your art style in three words.

Bohemian, whimsical, wanderlust.

 

AR: What is your workspace set up like? Are you in a studio/do you work alongside others/are you at a laptop or freehand?

I always prefer to work alone in a studio, where I can lose myself in my own imagination and paint freely without distraction, surrounded by imagery. During covid, this has sometimes meant my lounge table has turned into a mini studio setup! I often start by building a mood board filled with my own travel imagery, colour palettes, art styles, fashion and photography. From this mood board I usually paint a series of works. Throughout my whole design process, I work freehand. Sketching out my outlines before painting my pieces in watercolour and gouache. I only use a laptop for scanning in artworks to create digital prints.

 

Check out available works by Midnight to 6 here.

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