EASGILL Head Farm nestles amid a scattering of trees in a dip of land between Swaledale and Smardale, just a few miles from Kirkby Stephen - and it is the animals who graze in the fields and live in the farmyard on this Cumbrian hill farm that give the inspiration for nineteen-year-old artist Catherine Marston’s striking canvases.

“Living on a Cumbrian hill farm all my life my inspiration of course comes from the animals themselves, their individual characters, their movement and the pride it gives to rear one from birth and be able to show case it at its best.”

And although she has only just started down the path of a career as an artist, the talented young woman has already sold 20 pieces of art in just nine months.

Now the weather has turned warmer, the family’s herd of dairy cows have been turned out, and Catherine has converted the cowshed into a studio. “I pressure-washed the cubicles. It’s brilliant as I now have more space to work and store my pictures,” said Catherine.

The former Kirkby Stephen Grammar School pupil, who admits she had at first focused on sciences rather than art, discovered her natural talent and took her 'A-level in the subject.

After leaving school Catherine decided to take a gap year and it was then her business idea started to blossom. "Since the madness of lambing time has started to slow down, I have had some time to get painting again. Which has been so lovely to be able to bring something that hopefully makes people smile. With commissions as lockdown treats, to redecorating homes with spare time; it’s been a pleasure to be able to help in a small way during this scary time," said Catherine, who admits her favourite piece of work is a pink Highland cow. "I often use large brushes or my hands to put the paint down then squirt paint on top in an expressive way to create linear tones over previous marks, producing delicate yet messy lines.Natural materials help to capture a greater sense of nature within my pieces, from pheasant feathers to straw to wool from a freshly sheared sheep," added Catherine.More of her work can be seen on her Facebook Page 'Paintings By Catherine Marston'.

My intentions may be more subtle but my belief is certainly firm. Similarly to my work there is more than meets the eye when it comes to farming, and currently the industry is facing a number of difficulties. From the ill informed who often wrongly portray farmers through their lack of agricultural knowledge, to the inability of local people to buy from local producers to help uphold sustainable communities. That’s why it’s so important to back British farming.