With a creative eye, artistic hand and a love for animals, Grace Scott used to create paintings at her kitchen table as a young girl after an eventful day on the farm.

“It all started from living on a small mixed farm. I have three sisters who didn’t bother much with the animals, but I helped my father on the farm – feeding the cattle and lifting bales of hay. I would have come in from the farm in the evening and painted these animals at the kitchen table,” remembers Grace.

Grace studied O-Level art at school, but the history aspect of the subject put her off pursuing it further and she opted for a business course at the local tech.

Collection of artwork created by pastel artist Grace Scott. \ Peter Houston

“I drifted into a job as a result of studying business and worked in an office for a few years. Then I decided it wasn’t what I wanted.

“I started looking in the local papers for a job to do with art and by pure coincidence, a job came up in Tyrone Crystal. You didn’t really need much experience as long as you were good at art.

“I went for an interview and they sat me down with a dentist drill, showed me how to use it, gave me a big ice slab with no cuts on it and said, ‘Make what you want’.

“I made a wee stork. I didn’t know it, but that was the type of work they wanted. In the early years when I got the job, you would have made a stork with a baby on it and you put the baby’s name, date of birth and weight on it. I became a crystal engraver, which brought a bit of the art back.”


After giving birth to twin boys, followed by another son, Grace chose to give up work to raise her family. When challenges came her way, however, Grace’s sister suggested she return to art to help her gain peace of mind.

“I was getting stressed with different things – my parents were in and out of hospital and my sister said to me, ‘Would you not go back and do a bit of art to relax?’ I hadn’t done any art for about 12 years and at that time the boys were at primary school,” explains Grace.

“I decided that I would, so I went into town and bought a box of 36 pastel pencils, purely because it was quick and easy. I started off doing small paintings like a cow or pig’s head, with no background. I would have done that for about six months and my sister kept saying, ‘Would you not try and sell your work?’ And I kept saying, ‘No, they’re not good enough’.”

When her children’s primary school was holding a craft evening, Grace received a personal invitation to showcase her work.

Pastel artist Grace Scott with her artwork at her home studio outside Cookstown, Co Tyrone. \ Peter Houston

“The teacher called at our house on another message and she asked: ‘What are you at?’ I told her I was doing a bit of art and she replied, ‘You’re always supporting the school, why not pay £15 for a table and try and sell some of your work?’ So I did.

“That night was the start of the whole thing and it began with my sister. I sold all my pieces and got loads of orders, which gave me confidence to start. After that event, I went home and researched how you could exhibit your work.”

Getting bigger

Grace exhibited her work at a number of locations, including Castle Espie in Co Down. She is in business nearly four years and her paintings have started to cause a stir further afield.

“My paintings were getting bigger. I started setting up stalls at small events and agriculture shows. Now we have built that up to the Balmoral Show, the Royal Highland Show in Scotland and this year, [hopefully] the Dublin Horse Show. As well as that, I sell to different shops and a couple in England and Scotland. There is a lady enquiring from New Zealand too,” she says.

Pastel painting created by artist Grace Scott. \ Peter Houston

“We went to the Scottish Game Fair two years ago and it was about 3pm on the last day. This man came over and said, ‘I m looking for those two paintings, have you any more?’ He ended up buying five big paintings. I don’t think we will ever forget that feeling, selling five all at once.”


Grace does original paintings and commissioned works, and has even developed a print range.

“Once you have the painting done, it’s scanned onto the computer and can be printed onto other products.

There is a big demand for the artwork to be printed on to placemats, stools and lampshades, to name a few. My husband and three boys would do all the printing. It has become a family business.” So what is it that makes Grace’s work so popular?

“I think it’s because it’s realistic and my work is of proper farming scenes that people can relate to. A lot of farmers would say my Aberdeen Angus is very good. I think you have to be involved with cattle to be able to capture the proper look of them,” says Grace.

“I’m self-taught and I used to think that because I didn’t have an art degree that I wasn’t doing it right. Any workshop that I do I say, ‘This is what I do, you’re here to try out my materials and you can decide yourself if you like those or not. There is no right or wrong way of doing anything’. You can go to classes and watch YouTube tutorials, but you’re better not being too influenced by anybody.”

A new chapter

Going back to her passion has given Grace another reason to look forward to each day, which is important now that her children are starting to spread their own wings.

“My youngest is now 17. It gives you a new lease of life after bringing up a family.

You have devoted time to your children and now it’s your time again. You have to make an effort to fill your life with something different when they do get to that age and that is why it’s good to have something to take your mind off it.”

Loving what you do is key to creating great art, she says.

“My paintings have definitely improved since I started and I want to keep improving. I do paint people’s faces, but I don’t promote it much because I want to gain more confidence. I would find skin tones a wee bit harder,” she reveals.

“I never set out for this to be a business where I would make money, so there is not that same pressure. For me it’s about not having it like a business so much, but to relax and enjoy it. If I didn’t enjoy it, my paintings wouldn’t be as good and to be honest if the paintings are good, they nearly go themselves with the help of Facebook – it’s great for a small business starting up.”

Original paintings start from £160, which includes a mount and frame. Grace’s most popular large painting is approximately 3ft x 2ft and includes a double and frame, and is priced at around £360. If you would like to find out more about Grace or view her work, visit www.gracescottart.com or check out her Facebook page.