Although not from a farming background, farming has got into the blood of Northumberland artist Mary Ann Rogers.
To be more specific, it is the Swaledale sheep which surround her studio in West Woodburn, north of Hexham – a fine breed of sheep, said Mary Ann.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these attractive sheep, with their horns and distinctive faces, have found their way into her pictures. She watches them on a daily basis, as they move around the fields outside her studio home.
It comes as a surprise to learn that her view of them is often as agricultural as it is artistic.
Her neighbours are farmers John and Susan Scott of Low Leam Farm, West Woodburn, and come spring time Mary Ann is along most days, helping with the lambing.
That’s not the only contribution she makes – you will find her wrapping fleeces at clipping time, and at this time of year, she is over at the pens helping to dress the lambs for sale.
The Swaledales are an iconic Northern England hill sheep which are more than 200 years old. They originated in Yorkshire and have a distinctive appearance and a good reputation for hardiness and productivity.
Mary Ann says the images of the sheep have joined her in her studio. “I have chosen to paint the Swaledales because they are synonymous with my area.
“As an artist I find them interesting; their colour, their fleece and the white patch on their noses give me a wonderful contrast to paint.”
A mark of her engagement with the countryside, their appealing faces are about to be as familiar and popular throughout the world as the other creatures that Mary Ann has painted.
One of the UK’s top commercial wildlife artists, her hallmark studies of hares, hounds and wildlife have turned her into one of the UK’s leading animal artists and her work is frequently exhibited in top galleries around the country.