did art in school and for my Leaving Cert, but it was a lot of art history, or sketching with pencils and still life. It bored me to tears!

I don’t know, if I had been given a paintbrush and acrylics I reckon my journey would have started a lot sooner than 2011.

All up along, I was into arts and crafts and I was just creative in general - that side of the brain was really working. I did a degree in legal studies and business. I had no real interest in it and I knew it wasn’t for me, but I said I was going to it stick out.

Hazel's first painting of a cow in a river

Then I was working in the bank in Dublin in the fraud department. It was fine because it was on the computer and it was repetitive, but I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t get any passion out of it. It was a job, I did it, we were building a house and I had gotten married.

Getting started

For relaxation and as a way to switch off, I decided to take some art classes, in which we were asked what we wanted to paint. Now I have always been obsessed with cows, since I was a young child. Both my parents were reared on farms and my grandparents were in Kilkenny, so I would have spent a lot of time on their dairy farm.

Ava Scanlon trying her hand at painting like her mother.

Now I’m married to a farmer, we’re based in Bagenalstown in Co Carlow, so we have sucklers.

So in my art class, I picked a picture of a cow in the river and that was my very first painting. The teacher came over and I was off doing my own thing; mixing my colours, getting my cow proportions. She said, “I didn’t know you could paint Hazel” and I was like, ‘Well I didn’t either!’

Images by Hazel Scanlon of her art and family

I started exploring abstract contemporary art, because I felt that gave me more freedom to be creative and express myself. To me painting abstract is like getting a facial, I just float to bed afterwards. I still love the cows and always go back and paint a few but now it’s all mostly abstract and contemporary. Very bright, uplifting, cheerful, happy paintings is what I do.

Young minds

I have a chalet that we got outside purposely for art but because we have a four year old running around, I do a lot of it in the kitchen too. I had my first solo exhibition in 2014, and then I did a window display. I’ve also done a lot of art and craft classes at home, I converted a bedroom to a class for children between four and 12.

Hazel Scanlon's husband drying her Rooster painting.

I did a camp a few years back with a display of the children’s work, like a gallery for the parents to see on the Sunday. I love kids and I love art. So to put them both together, it’s great.

My own daughter, she just turned four. Her name is Ava and she loves painting, but it can be tricky when she’s running around wanting to paint, so I set her up on her own studio. She has her own little easel and she gets really into it. We had to frame one of her works - it’s called ‘Happy’ and it’s got pride of place in her bedroom.

Hazel Scanlon in the field with her painting.

Anyone that comes in sees Mammy’s art on the wall so Ava loves to say that’s hers. We did have a recent incident, where I turned my back for a few minutes and I thought she was watching cartoons. But out she runs and gets a big paintbrush, dips it in red - nearly to the top - and goes all along the bottom of my good painting. She’s going around telling everyone ‘I’m an artist’ since.

She goes to bed at 7:30, I go out and water my polytunnel and then I come back in and I paint for the evening, just for my exhibition. That’s the pressure now to get everything ready. But I would have done that even when I was pregnant with her, or after having her, I’d get up extra early or go to bed late.

All through lockdowns I painted, so I really see the benefits of it. It’s really therapeutic. Next, I’m hoping to go into schools and work with special educational needs children and nonverbal children for relaxation or anxiety, or even with exam stress or just generally for building confidence and self-esteem.

Hazel Scanlon with her easel and paint in the field with her farm's cows.

That’s an area I’m passionate about because I also see the great effects of art and it’s great for self-expression too. So I’m going to offer my services for a few sessions with the children who have mild to moderate learning difficulties and when they see how amazing it is, hopefully then they will hire me. Or this is my plan!”

For more visit www.hazelscanlonart.ie