The Purple Finch – Inspiring Upcycling Artists Series

The lovely MJ Ryle of The Purple Finch is one of our fabulous panel of judges for the January 2017 exhibition Time & Tide. We thought this would be a lovely opportunity to learn more about her and her fantastic creations. Here is what she had to tell us…

Please tell us a bit about yourself

Where are you based?
I’m based in the beautiful town of Shrewsbury over in Shropshire.

Do you run your business full time?
Yes, I’m usually always working on at least 3 projects at any given moment. It’s only a matter of time before I accidentally put my toothpaste on my paintbrush!

How long have you been a professional artist?
I’ve had my hands in art since as far back as I can remember. I sold my first painting just over 10 years ago however, it’s only been in the last few years that I have decided to pursue art as a career. I started the Purple Finch in 2013 and it has been quite a ride since!

Did you attend college/university or are you self taught?
I did not study art at university, oddly enough. I took a couple local classes as a hobby and have spent a lot of time experimenting with techniques and mediums. I’ve always used art as a tool to express myself. After so many years of practice, it just flows and comes naturally now.

Please tell us about your work

What do you create?
This question is always difficult for me to answer because there’s such a range of things I make. I don’t like to stick to any one medium because I start to get bored. I do my best to shake things up but primarily, I just follow my gut and go with what inspires me. Basically, anything can be a canvas.

Do you use eco friendly methods?
My main focus is to use reclaimed materials; whether that’s a pile of wood off cuts, old furniture, or a dead lightbulb. Turning something that would otherwise be hauled off to a landfill into art is incredibly rewarding. So many items are tossed away, there is an endless amount of potential.

Which is your most popular creation?
My recent work on teacups has been very popular – I’ve had great responses to it! I’m so pleased as well because I feel very passionate about each one once completed. The process is lengthy and I more or less have to plan each brush stroke from the start to make sure the depth and image is just right. A challenge for me as usually the opposite is true!

Can you tell us about the first piece you created?
First piece with the Purple Finch stamp that landed in the home of a customer was a tall plant stand – spent a lot of time gilding with gold leaf on that one!

Do you have a favourite piece?
It’s so difficult to choose – that’s like trying to pick a favourite child! I really love the koi pond occasional table I painted. I think the movement of the fish was captured beautifully and it’s a very functional piece of art. Another favourite would be my storm in a teacup with the airship – I really took my time with the layers on that one and the depth is remarkable.

Are you working on any new lines?
I’ve been plucking away at a series of wood stain paintings on reclaimed wood called ‘Lepidoptera Doppelgangers’. As an artist, I pick up on likenesses & colours and I’m very inspired by nature. This series sees butterflies and moths paired with their unexpected likenesses in other animal species – in a very dapper and debonair way.

Do your undertake commissions?
Yes, always! Commissions are a major part of my business and are always welcomed.

Do you teach?
I don’t teach at the moment, but I have considered workshops so I’m open to the idea. Stay tuned!

Have you won any awards? Other notable achievements?
In the spring, I was commissioned to create a piece to be featured in an exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Love Orchids UK went on to win a gold medal for their exhibit and I am so grateful to have been involved. It was a fantastic experience and completely out of the blue. It’s fantastic to see more reclaimed pieces being incorporated at such events! More recently, my work has been taken into an art gallery which has been very exciting.

Your thoughts

Which artists inspire you?
Oh so many! Magritte, Vallotton, Van Gogh, Dali, I could list hundreds. But beyond visual inspiration, my biggest inspirational artists are musicians. I can’t hold a brush without some music – it’s just not possible. The list of those artists is even longer I’m afraid!

Do you have any advice/tips for aspiring artists?
My advice would be to not be afraid or intimidated to try new things. Your niche could be something you have never dabbled in yet, but you won’t know until you try. Experimenting can lead to some pretty magical discoveries and “mistakes”.

Where can your work be seen and purchased?
My work can be seen at my studio by making an appointment or on my website, My online shop is in the works and should be up in the New Year. I’m on all social media platforms and I frequently post my current works-in-progress. Items can always be purchased by contacting me directly ( A collection of my work can also be seen & purchased at The Art Vaults in Shrewsbury (

About Kirstie Adamson

Kirstie Adamson is a magazine & junkmail collage artist. Co-Founder of EcoCreate art & craft network and a passionate revamp crafter!

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