Linda Fox grew up and became a GP. And then she gave that up and became an illustrator instead. What…? We were intrigued. How do you go from wrestling with warts and wens to wielding a paintbrush? Well, here's how…
'Since childhood I have loved painting and drawing. My mother would always get me a set of new paints, pens or crayons for birthday or Christmas presents to encourage me, and I would also enter every art competition that I could. I had always been drawn to books and stories with illustrations and still collect them now.
'At boarding school I was encouraged towards an academic future; I studied medicine and eventually became a GP. Although there were many aspects of the job I loved, not least of all the patients and the variety of work, I always felt that I was missing a chance to be creative. I did a course in interior design, and then in garden design, mainly as an outlet for my creativity and because they were useful skills to have. It was always the design aspect of these courses that I loved, of putting pen to paper and creating something. A friend introduced me to the work of Danny Gregory and his books like ‘Everyday Matters’ and 'The Creative License’. I started keeping an illustrated journal of my life and this kept me going whilst I was still working part time as a GP.
'Just over 10 years ago my mother died of breast cancer and my youngest child was born. It made me re-evaluate my life and priorities and gave me the permission and belief I had had for many years of being an illustrator. I did courses online, and gradually built up my confidence and techniques - for example in observational drawing - and using watercolour, gouache, pen and ink. I have also learnt how to use photoshop which has been vital for editing work and sending work to clients. I love to work mostly with pen and ink and watercolour but I am always experimenting with new art materials.
'When I first stopped work as a GP it was a difficult decision as I was giving up a steady job and income, and I struggled with feeling guilty, but I haven't looked back. My husband is a GP, so working for myself from home has meant I am able to be flexible, to raise our three children and manage family life.
'Over the last few years I have been doing commissions for local businesses, such as logo design and branding work. I have been designing an expanding range of cards, prints and notebooks which I sell locally and also online in my ETSY shop. It was exciting when a Swedish customer bought some designs to turn into fabric for her shop!
'We live in South Devon near the sea, and I get so much inspiration from daily dog walks with our whippet either on the beach or inland in the countryside and local woodlands and moors. My pockets are usually filled with shells and feathers and pinecones… Having children keeps me creative and playful and I love seeing things through their eyes. We have a garden, grow vegetables and flowers, and keep chickens. I have a notebook where I write down new ideas for designs or projects.
'A typical day involves the school run, and then a walk with the dog to clear my head and think through ideas. I will then try and ignore all the chores to be done in the house and close the door to the studio. I try and vary the day, but if I am working on a commission I will usually spend a few hours on this in the morning. If there are orders I will prepare these, and if there is time I work on my own designs in the afternoon before another dog walk and the school run. Sometimes I will take my sketchbook out with me and spend time outside drawing on a walk for as long as the dog will let me!
'With my experience as a GP I know how much of a growing problem mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are, and I firmly believe that having a creative outlet could help many people. Creativity takes many forms, whether planting flowers, growing vegetables, art classes, mindfulness colouring, pottery, knitting… all can help as much or more than traditional drug-based treatments. And with none of the side effects!'
You can learn more about Linda here and see her work here: