Artist in Focus: Zoe Carmichael

Zoë can always be found carrying her watercolour art bag. She paints in watercolour, as that was what her grandmother painted with. Zoë doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t paint, and has taught herself. Notable inspirations were Thelwell and all of the animals growing up in Gloucestershire, which she says were “Always so full of charm and character. Who needs Netflix when you have animals? The ponies in particular were the subject of many a watercolour, much to the dislike of my art professor.”

Zoë likes there to be humour through her paintings and illustrations, and she always spends ages mulling over a picture before putting brush to paper. Her aim is to get the viewer to spend time looking for and spotting the finer details and interactions that wouldn’t be seen at first notice.

After receiving an art scholarship to secondary school (Cheltenham Ladies’ College), Zoë left school to pursue a career that “would please my inner geek. I did my financial exams and now run the Account Management team at Beauhurst, a London based SaaS platform tracking the UK’s high growth companies.” Being creative is still a huge part of Zoë’s life and she continues to do her watercolours on the side as they make her happy. Recently, Zoë’s watercolours have been in the National Portrait Gallery, and she has done various wedding invitations, landscape and animal commissions, as well as packs of illustrated cards.

More recently Zoë combined watercolours with my new love of baking extreme cakes. This led to Bakewell, a mental health initiative to promote well being through the art of baking and creativity! As Zoë says: “We all need an outlet like painting and baking, especially with all of the added pressures of life!” The charity was featured on the BBC and The Daily Telegraph during the recent lockdown.

Zoë loves all things countryside, and grew up with The Pony Club, then evented to 4* level with Bertie, “my trusty (most of the time) steed of 15 years. Now, I love hunting and the last 

few seasons I hunted with the Teme Valley on Smurf, had an epic few days with the Galway Blazers with Echo the stallion, and also the Heythrop with the superstar Rupert.”

Zoë’s aim with this year’s Christmas Card is to bring some cheer to everyone. As she puts it: “It is not an easy time at all, but hopefully all of the countryside animals on a zoom call will help lighten the mood. We have all had to put up with so many dysfunctional zoom calls and mute mishaps…!”