Susan Hankey lived and worked in London in the hairdressing profession and then in recruitment. She always loved looking at art in galleries. Painting and drawing cropped up when she was about 40 years of age. She joined a water colour group and life drawing class with a wild woman who "went to art college with John Lennon".

She admits that she went on various art holidays, "but no formal training." She just knew that she liked to dabble in oils and acrylics a lot.

We moved to Spain in 2005 and after settling in, Susan joined an oil painting group run by a Dutch lady called Hanka. She learnt a lot from her and painted in various styles, usually copying other artists or from photographs.

"I also did some live portrait sessions," admits the artist. "I did a painting of my husband in his Harley gear!"

Susan founds a new art teacher named Julia Evans and she has been attending regular classes with her ever since. "We sometimes have life drawing sessions and live portrait sitters."

Susan admits that she generally paints from photographs for portraits and has a love of painting rock, blues and other musical celebrities.

"Painting is an absorbing hobby and it is great to paint with others," she expains. "I am so lucky to have a space to paint at home and I like to work there too, I really enjoy painting portraits and also fiesta scenes in Spain with people in them. I want to paint more townscapes, all sorts, even industrial. I love painting but I am not fast, Julia warns me not to 'fiddle'."

Susan has sold a number of paintings and would love to sell more but that is not her motivation, "I just get lost in painting. I am hugely flattered when someone buys my work or asks me to paint something for them."

"I also love attending the art history lectures given by Karla Darocas,"she continues.

"I am interested in all the Spanish Masters, I love the work of Caravaggio, The Pre Raphaelites, Van Gogh, Hopper, The Bloomsbury Set, David name a diverse few. I love looking at paintings and sculptures."


Growing up in Leicester, United Kingdom, like most children who enjoy colouring and drawing, Gwen Roberts realised that she was a bit different. She was driven to draw, "like an adult". Fascinated by the works Leonardo Da Vinci, Gwen felt compelled to perfect her drawings with a maturity beyond her years. Of course, like many young artists, life got in the way and adulthood meant paying bills and her pencils gathered dust.

After 20 years and a successful career in the financial industry, Gwen found the time to pick up her pencils once again. She and her husband moved to  Australia where she was able to make a name for herself in the community as a professional artist. She was was featured in various local and national publications and exhibited on a regular basis.

In the end, they said goodbye to  Australia last year to return to Europe and Javea and be closer to family. Gwen is looking forward to getting involved with our growing artist community and the ART MARKET PROJECT.

You will be able to meet Gwen in person and be amazed by her work as she develops her practice further here in beautiful Javea.


KARLA: How did you get involved in artist expression?

GWEN: I don’t think it was a choice for me. There was no conscious decision and no pivotal point. Making art has always been a compulsion.

I have dyslexia, which was never recognised at school so I always felt slightly different. I think my brain compensated in my artistic abilities for my limited capacity for words.

KARLA: Why is graphite your chosen medium?

GWEN: Firstly, I can get very fine detail with a pencil. I am very observant and very patient. It’s a combination of certain personal characteristics that enable me to create a photorealistic effect. And I think this applies to any kind of mark making. Personality traits affect the art that is being made.

On the whole, graphite is easy to manipulate, I’ve grown up with it and I know it inside out.
Graphite is also clean to work with. I hate getting messy and I’ve probably got the tidiest studio you’ve ever seen. However, I am experimenting with paint. I’ve attempted a couple of oil paintings in the past and I have a large-scale piece I’m working on at the moment.

KARLA: Do you have an opinion about artistic expression being good for your health?

GWEN: I find making art a frustrating process. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that for them it is relaxing and it takes them to a place of serenity. I can well believe that making art can help mental health issues. For me though, it exasperates any mental well being.

Because I am constantly striving for accuracy and perfection, I get very upset with myself and depressed with my work. I can’t actually say I enjoy it. I’m just driven to make this kind of art. As I said previously, it’s a compulsion. It’s like a horrible itch that’s in an awkward place to reach and I can’t stop scratching it.

There are many artists in history that have suffered from anxiety derived from a lack of confidence in their work and abilities. For some it’s part and parcel of the job.

KARLA: Who are your favourite artists and why?

GWEN: Chuck Close is the father of photorealist portraiture in my opinion. I remember arriving in Sydney and I saw his exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. I was blown away to see his work in the flesh. I think fine art is encountered rather than merely regarded.

Robin Eley is another on of my heroes when it comes to painting. Dirk Dzimirsky and Emanuele Dascanio are the masters of graphite.

The craftsmanship and dexterity of these artists is second to none.

I particularly like Dascanio’s compositions. This is an area I feel I need to develop in my own practice. Finding models is always a problem. If anyone is out there and would like to volunteer that would be very welcomed.

KARLA: Do you think that the arts needs to be presented to the people in an open market system?

GWEN: Art should be accessible to everyone and an open market also benefits struggling up-and-coming artists like myself to sell their work. There are no barriers such as expensive commission fees and enables artists to keep the cost of their work down. It also gives buyers the opportunity to meet the artist. I like the anonymity, however, in my experience people are interested in the person behind the work. I am always happy to talk and give advice when asked and an art market is a great forum for that.

KARLA: Do you feel that artists need to learn business and marketing in order to bring their visions to the public?

GWEN: It depends on what drives you to make the art. I believe there are three things that motivate an artist: One is to make money, another is to get recognition and one more is to be technically perfect.

I would say I am the latter. I do have a desire for the other two, especially recognition. But not all artists do it to for the money.

However, if money is being exchanged for goods it’s pretty back and white in my opinion; it’s a business.

I think it is important to conduct yourself in a businesslike manner and market your work and be proactive in getting exposure to increase the value of your work if that is the result you want.

On the other hand if you are motivated to simply bring your work into the public eye there are lots of manners in which to do that. Take for example performance art, street art, there’s social media and many more ways to get your art seen.

All of my work is for sale. I have drawings that have taken weeks to complete and fetch a higher price. And I have abstract works that don’t take as long and sell for much less and are more affordable for to the general public. I seek to cater for every budget.

There is nothing more rewarding for me to know someone has something that I have created in their home no matter how much they paid for it.


Over hundreds of years, Spain has produced and elevated some of the most famous artists of all time. It is hard to live in Spain and not be inspired by the multitudes of amazing galleries that display and pay recognition to the arts as an outlet for creativity, enlightenment and social change. Most importantly, Spain has become a melting pot of languages and cultures and the arts have the unique ability to extend and expand our shared common visual language.

I joined an arts group recently called the Javea Art Hub. It was launched by a Javea resident by the name of Robert Richardson.

According to Robert, his reasons for starting such a group stemmed from his love of art and his interest in building "like-minded" artist friends.

"I wished to explore and expand my own creativeness, while being supported and inspired by others as this is a great way to push yourself into trying new ideas," explains Robert.

"The idea of the group was to bring local artists together through online discussion/sharing, regular meetings and events such as the Art Market Project. I hope to see the group continue to grow, see more members join and see various annual events occurring," he concludes.


KARLA: How did you get involved in creative art?

ROBERT: From childhood, I have always enjoyed creative activities. I would always be following a Blue Peter build it your self at home or drawing cartoons in scrap books.  I studied art in secondary school but the lack of motivation and diversification brought by the class/teacher lead to very little artwork outside of the classroom.

It wasn't until I struck a friendship with a local artist that I truly began to understand and appreciate paintings. It was this new found love of art that drove me to pick up a brush and start to paint myself.

My desire to own and create unique items be it a painting, sculpture or piece of furniture has driven me to be more creative.

KARLA: How do you think the creative arts can help people?

ROBERT: Creative arts will have a varied impact on person to person.  For me being creative is a relaxing hobby but also strikes an ambitious cord as I often paint or design for my own gratification. The emotion of seeing the end product in my house or on my wall is a very accomplishing feeling.

I do believe that being creative can help people see things from an alternative perspective; which is an excellent ability to have in all walks of life.

Art is also a fantastic medium to being people together, like any hobby meeting new friends though art is great.

KARLA: How do you think the arts can educate people?

ROBERT: Art can tell a story, especially historic/older art.  People can learn from what a piece of art is telling us and in most cases this way of learning can be more invigorating than simple reading a book.  Using art to raise awareness is a powerful medium; as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

KARLA: Do you feel that the arts can still make a difference in social change?

ROBERT: Art changes with time, not only styles or mediums but the ways in which art is shown has changed.  Art can still make an impact but it is down to the artist to assess which method is now best to reach its target audience.  Example; whilst there are those who are still happy to frequent an art gallery, many people would feel more comfortable viewing/purchasing online, it is therefore vital that we explore modern methods of communication to promote ourselves as artists and our work.

Having said that, there does seem to be a social trait among certain groups that want to remain 'cultural' and I feel that people will again seek out the modern gallery.

KARLA: What are your future hopes for the arts in Javea?

ROBERT: Javea can be a very inspiring place for an artist and I hope to see more new artist surface over the coming months.

Being an artist can become difficult when you try to earn a living from your art and I would hope to see incentives come about which help local artists sell art but also encourages local people to buy art from local artists.  I would like to see more local art events which bring those interested in art.