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Jayne Day Williams

The Welsh Lady Doodles

Jayne Day Williams is a retired head teacher and precision artist. Originally from Wales, Jayne has embarked on an ambitious Draw My Town project with the aim of capturing the many heritage and architecturally rich properties that can be found across Retford. Her signature grid-work and line illustrations are inspiring a legion of fans. Made caught up with Jayne at her Retford home studio…
 |  Made  |  Artists

We discovered that Jayne’s father was very artistic. As a colliery Blacksmith he would hand draw very technical engineering diagrams and designs. She would watch him closely and try to replicate them. This fascination had a huge influence on her style.

“Ever since I was a toddler, I would be drawing circles or squares and playing with pens”, Jayne laughs. “I was clearly determined art was for me, even then! I remember being fascinated by my father’s handwriting, which was a calligraphy style, and in the precise nature of the drawings he would produce for items at work.”

This interest in art followed her throughout school years during which time she mostly enjoyed art and athletics but was urged to pursue a more stable career. Jayne ended up taking teacher training qualifications at Eaton Hall in Retford, but never really saw it as a compromise, and pursued a degree in Art and Psychology.

“I actually discovered Eaton Hall when I was on an athletics school tour. We were at Berry Hill in Mansfield and that’s when I got to see Nottinghamshire and quite liked the area”, Jayne explains.

Jayne became a primary school teacher, and then headteacher for 24 years and interestingly her passion for art was always present even in day-to-day school interactions. “I found that art had hugely therapeutic uses, and I would harness these when dealing with pupils who had challenging behaviour or had been through some form of trauma. By sitting with them and drawing I found they could relax and open up more, at which point you could have a dialogue.”

It was during the Covid lockdowns that Jayne spent considerable periods alone in Beckingham. She survived the isolation by turning the experience into a solo art retreat. ”I needed to fill my days and by creating bright drawings I brought colour to rather gloomy days.”

This coupled with retirement six years’ ago and a return to Retford to set up home has given Jayne the time and space to be able to fully embrace her love of art and bring this to the forefront of her life.

“I have recently completed a full renovation project of my home and created a new garden from scratch but in between I have spent time drawing, designing and thinking up new ideas. It’s the perfect balance. I started out sketching neighbours’ houses and moved away from conceptual design to return to more liner and architectural style. In doing so, I’ve gone full circle to that precision dynamic I loved as a child.”

It’s clear that Jayne has created a signature precision style that stems from gridwork. We were curious to understand how this came about. We were also keen to understand what materials she likes to work with.

“Well, this evolved from when I was working with children”, she explains. “I’d give them a small square rather than a large piece of paper to draw on. The small scale of a square broke down any barriers, they weren’t as fazed, and would go on to draw some really incredible things and explore their imagination. It’s also a great way to get them to collaborate with their class mates on one big piece of art by bringing each of the squares together.

“In terms of how I like to work, I favour graphic marker pens, which some people might find an interesting choice, but having tried watercolour and oils, I just find that I can achieve the precision and control I require with the pens.”

Jayne has been busy creating commissions for friends and family and through them other referrals. She will also be creating a website with online store in the future. But her immediate plans are to continue to collaborate with Retford Arts Hub with whom she has been hosting both adult and children’s workshops and working with businesses and wedding venues who have been commissioning drawings of their premises.

"I hope to present more workshops and activities at the Retford Arts Hub as they are wonderful to work with. I’m proud to have some of my art exhibited there. There is also scope for new ideas and ventures with other galleries and venues in the future. Keep an eye on my Instagram page.”

In the meantime, Jayne is putting all her creative energy into her current labour of love projects – Window Stories and Draw My Town.

‘Window Stories sort of evolved from the gridwork pieces. I would draw window outlines and then make them in to story boards with my grandchildren and my imagination grew to create all manner of scenarios often playful with humour and gives me chance to fully immerse into my art and imagination.

“You’ll see some of the scenes depict day-to-day living, and then others might have a wild animal, a clown or a fantasy scene in the window. Each window enables you to create a story, and when collating various windows, you can build a larger story, drawing on your own imagination and seeing where it takes you.”

“With the Draw My Town project, I wanted to capture historical, landmark or intriguing properties across Retford to collate into a collection. It may well be exhibited one day, but it has been more something I was personally interested in. It has been an incredible journey finding some beautiful buildings and hopefully doing them justice through my precision style likeness. This is still very much work in progress and I still have many properties to photograph and then start to sketch out. If your are interested in a drawing of your business premises please contact me as I may have already drawn it!”

Find out more about Jayne’s work through her Instagram page: @welshlady_doodles
For workshops and other activities visit The Retford Arts Hub on Facebook: @retfordartshub
For commission enquiries please email:
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