Children inspired Spalding artist Sandra to paint

Sandra on the rooftop at Burghley.
Sandra on the rooftop at Burghley.
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It was her desire to capture the likeness of her children that inspired Sandra Peck to pick up a paintbrush.

After taking art lessons in Spalding, where she was encouraged to explore all mediums, Sandra has gone on to become a tutor herself and has been helping others develop their own painting skills for more than 25 years.

Burghley in Blue.

Burghley in Blue.

In more recent times she has swapped the village halls and studios where she initially taught for more inspirational venues including Burghley House, in Stamford, and Barnsdale Gardens, in Rutland, where she is privileged to be artist in residence.

“I’m so lucky to be painting and teaching in two of the loveliest possible locations, which means I can regularly paint all of my favourite subjects – flowers, gardens and old stone buildings,” says Sandra, of Spalding.

“And watercolour has a special appeal for me; when you paint with other mediums the paint or pastel stays exactly where you put it on the paper, but the thing that I really love about watercolour is the way that it moves on wet paper and how the pigments run into each other and make new colours and marks.”

Sandra, who has developed her own wet-into-wet watercolour technique, has always been interested in painting but was dissuaded from pursuing it for a career. It was only when she became a mother that she took it up as a hobby, thinking it would be nice to capture the images of her daughters in pastels.

Oragery window. Copyright Sandra Peck

Oragery window. Copyright Sandra Peck

To help develop as an artist she signed up for lessons at Riverbank Studios, in Spalding, and under the tutelage of John Gray, was encouraged to try her hand at all mediums.

“John’s classes are informal, each person takes along what they want to have a go at and he gives them advice; I was lucky as he is a really talented artist and it was just the start I needed to give me some confidence,” recalls Sandra.

“I soon got into watercolour and then I found I quite enjoyed painting flowers.”

Soon after Sandra was invited to show her work at the gallery and was then asked to give some demonstrations of her work, which led to her being asked to teach at other venues around the area.

“As a very keen watercolour artist, I’m sure that I’m not alone in viewing everything that I see as a possible painting. It doesn’t matter where I am; whatever I am looking at is immediately transformed into watercolour,” she adds.

“I have been teaching for more than 25 years now but I still really enjoy it and have met lots of lovely people and made many friends, some of them still paint with me occasionally after all this time and a number have gone onto teach and to become members of prestigious societies and to earn recognition for their own paintings.”

Mum and daughter both teach classes

Painting is a family affair for Sandra, whose daughter Lucy Ellis also teaches art classes alongside her at Burghley House and Barnsdale Gardens – home to a series of gardens created by BBC Gardener’s World presenter Geoff Hamilton.

Between them they offer tutoring in a range of medium and subjects with Sandra focussing on a range of flowers in her 2017 programme.

Her classes, which are suitable for all abilities, are relaxed and friendly, and this year will cover painting oriental poppies, sunflowers, gladioli, parrot tulips, lilac, wisteria and cherry blossom.

“I will be painting roses at both Barnsdale and Burghley in June. I do love painting the old-fashioned roses and, of course, the David Austin roses which have been bred more recently in the same style.”

• For more information on Sandra, her work and the classes she teaches visit

Sandra will also be exhibiting a collection of her own watercolour works of old-fashioned roses at Gunby Hall, near Spilsby, throughout June.