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Aberdeenshire castles transformed into artistic prints and placemats

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Inspired by breathtaking Scottish architecture, Aberdeenshire castles feature heavily in Kimberley Smith’s work.

Although she did not follow the career path of an architect after completing her degree, it was during her studies at RGU that Kimberley discovered her love of drawing historical architecture.

The talented creative, who currently also works part-time as a project engineer for an energy company, initially set up her online shop – KimberleyART – on Etsy in 2016 to see if people were interested in buying prints of her paintings of castles.

After receiving a lot of positive feedback from customers, Kimberley was motivated to expand and develop her small business.

Aiming to capture the essence of unique buildings found in the north-east, Kimberley also likes to focus on how the light of varying seasons can change them.

She said: “Traditional Scottish architecture is fascinating as it mixes functionality with form.

“Many of the castles evolved over hundreds of years – changing from fortified tower houses into grand mansions.

“One castle can feature architecture from several different centuries.”

While it would be very difficult to pick her favourite north-east castle, there are a few she is particularly fond of.

Kimberley said: “I really like Cluny Castle for its stunning granite architecture, Craigievar Castle for its picture-perfect looks, Dunnottar Castle for its cliffside location, Fyvie Castle for its gruesome history and Knock Castle outside Ballater as it was a hidden find.”

In addition to castles, Kimberley also paints wedding venues and Scottish distilleries.

She said: “After painting my first distillery, I realised that these buildings had many interesting architectural features.

“Many of the distilleries were originally farms which were expanded as popularity for whisky grew.

“The most iconic feature of the Scottish distillery is almost always the pagoda or cupola.

“I have now painted 18 distilleries and they have a great following worldwide, especially the Islay distilleries.

“I am currently working on expanding this collection.

“Wedding venues I have painted include Haddo House, The Fife Arms in Braemar and Pittodrie House.”

Kimberley also enjoys capturing remote cottages, bothies and lighthouses.

As she developed her business, the creative expanded her product range to include coasters, placemats, tea towels, fridge magnets, greeting cards and calendars.

Kimberley said: “The distillery and castle ranges of tea towels proved very popular worldwide and my 2021 calendar sold out within a month.

“I am always open to add to the product range if I believe the item is both suitable and popular.”

Kimberley is always really pleased when she is contacted with an enquiry for a commission.

She stated: “I’ve been lucky to have had a variety of different buildings to work on – from castles and palaces through to private homes and landscapes.

“When working on a commission, I request high-quality photographs and the preferred view – or before Covid, I would sometimes do a site visit – and then I work with the client to make sure they are happy with the product throughout the process.

“I provide photo updates during the initial sketch stage and once the painting is finished before sending.

“It is really important to me that the customer is fully satisfied with the end product.”

A number of local shops stock Kimberley’s products. These include Aberdeen Whisky Shop, Braemar Pharmacy, Geek Bothy, Inverurie Whisky Shop, Kilts Wi Hae, National Trust of Scotland gift shops, and also the Celtic House on Islay.

Kimberley said: “I am actively looking for additional stockists throughout the UK.

“Prior to coronavirus, I regularly attended craft fairs with the FOCUS Craft Group and Exclusively Highlands Christmas events held in Aberdeenshire castles.

“I really miss face-to-face meetings with customers and fellow exhibitors.”

Kimberley, who is based in Inverurie, has a dedicated work space within her house, but hopes to have her own studio one day.

She previously opened up her home studio to showcase her work during North East Open Studios (NEOS).

She said: “I really enjoyed the experience and loved meeting so many like-minded individuals.

“It helped me improve the quality of my work presentation.

“I took part in NEOS in 2018 and 2019 and plan to do so again in future once the pandemic has subsided.”

Kimberley also hopes to continue being creative by painting a broad range of buildings and landscapes, while also developing her range of retail products.

She added: “I would love to be working on my business full-time in the future.”

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This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.