I must be nuts!

Armed only with paint and paper, I’m trying to evoke an impression of the fleeting effects of light on skin, fur, feathers, moss, bark, rock, air! The challenges are daunting if I think about them, but painting is absorbing, exciting, frustrating, rewarding, fun and totally addictive.

I’ve always been inspired by the great outdoors, particularly by rugged upland areas, such as those I was lucky enough to visit whilst studying for my degree in Geology; the sublime landscape of the Romantics, where the weather ‘plays’ amongst the hills and feels so close. It’s here I find myself coaxing watercolour paint to flow like the patterns and colours of nature, its moods, presence and space. I want to remind viewers of days in the country, walks in the hills or on the beach and the feel of sun, wind and rain on the face. I know I’ve achieved this when I see that recognition in the viewer.

A few years ago, a sojourn in rural Herefordshire presented the opportunity to study British heritage breeds of farm animals. Since then, rare breeds and endangered wild species have become increasingly important to my work. Today, pastel portraits make up most of my commissioned work, from esteemed academics to much loved horses and prize-winning cattle. I find that pastel beautifully depicts the softness of skin, hair and fur and yet retains the complex details of light and shade that portraits demand.


Elvet Bridge Durham with artist Gillie Cawthorne
Elvet Bridge Durham with artist Gillie Cawthorne














Solo Exhibitions

‘Field & Fell’, Trevelyan College, Durham, 2019.
‘A Year On Alston Moor’, Alston Town Hall, 2017.
Red Barn Gallery, Larch Cottage Nurseries, 2017
‘The Lie of the Land’, Trevelyan College, Durham, 2014.
‘Saint Cuthbert’s Lands’, The Almshouses Café, Durham, 2013.
‘Out of the Shadows’, Durham Town Hall, 2009.
‘Off The Beaten Track’, Trevelyan College, Durham, 2008.
Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Isle of Harris, 2005.
Old Somerset Gallery, Virginia, USA, 2004.
Holland & Holland Art Gallery, East 57th Street, New York, USA, 2003.
‘Recent Works’, Trevelyan College, Durham, 1991 and 2003.
‘The Northern Dales’, Civic Centre, Crook, Co. Durham, 1999.
‘Cloudscape’, The Hancock Museum of Natural History, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1999.
‘A Garden Explored’, Durham Botanic Garden Visitor Centre, 1997.
Dissington Hall, Northumberland, 1993, 1996.
St. Nicholas’ Church Hall, Durham City, 1992.
Trevelyan College, Durham, 1991.
Print Room, Durham Arts Centre (dli), 1986.
Van Mildert College, Durham, 1985.

Joint Exhibitions

The Lake Artists Society Summer Exhibition 2021 and 2022.
Great North Art Show, Ripon, 2022.
Landscapes of Alston Moor Exhibition at The Hive Nenthead, 2020.
Upfront Open Exhibition, 2018, 2019, 2020; winner of their Visitors’ Favourite Vote, 2020
Queen’s Hall Christmas Art Show, Hexham, 2013.
High Cup Winery,Summer Exhibition, Appleby, 2011.
Durham Open Art Exhibition, Shildon Railway Museum, 2010.
Trevelyan College Summer Exhibition, 2008.
Stanhope Open Art Exhibition, Stanhope, 2006.
‘Every Home Can Have One’, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2000, 2001.
Gateshead Central Library Christmas Exhibition 2000.
Colliers, Milburn House, Dean St. Newcastle, 2000.
St. Cuthbert’s Hospice Millennium Art Exhibition, Durham, 2000.
Grand Christmas Show, Chameleon Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1999 and 2000.
Several exhibitions in 1980’s with  Durham Art Group, and 1980’s onwards with The Friends of the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle.


Five portraits of college principals for University of Durham since 2013.
Portrait of Mrs Anne Galbraith, Chair of University Council, Durham University, 2013.
Lloyds Number One bar chain, for The Bishop’s Mill, Durham, 2006.
Craigielea Nursing Home, Gateshead, 1992.
Van Mildert College Durham, pastel portrait of College, 1986.
Many private commissions in UK and USA since 1982.


Portraits For NHS Heroes, Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2020 ISBN 978-1-4482-1800-4.



In Durham, Gillie’s work is in collections of several Durham University colleges, Bill Bryson Library & Palatine Centre, also University Hospital of North Durham & Bishop’s Mill bar.

Represented in the USA by Graves International Art of St. Augustine, Florida.




Gillie Cawthorne