ONE short walk is all it takes for artist Judith Levin to be inspired.

The painter captures Yorkshire in all its natural glory, from its famous moors that have inspired artists and novelists for centuries, to bluebell-rich woodlands.

“One walk can provide inspiration for months and produce many paintings,” she says.

Purple carpets of heather, dark rocky outcrops and waterfalls spilling down hillsides - Judith captures the very essence of the landscapes for which Yorkshire is known the world over.

She has transferred the wild uplands around Ilkley and Haworth, as well as the stunning bluebell carpets in Ilkley’s Middleton Woods to canvas, to dramatic effect.

Self-taught, Judith began painting at an early age, experimenting with landscapes in different styles as well as producing portraits from life, figure studies and simple still lifes. She was just 15 when she began selling her paintings to those who admired them.

“I was really surprised that other people liked what I was doing as to me it it was just a hobby - I did not take it seriously,” she says.

Despite her obvious talent, she did not study art at school and did not consider it as a career.

Settling down, for many years her priority was raising a family. However, once her two children were older and living more independent lives, she once again picked up a paintbrush.

“I was in my thirties and began painting again for pleasure - mostly flower still lifes. This time, though, I found I had far improved skills.”

It was when her husband took examples of her work to a gallery near their North Leeds home that things began to take off.

“They accepted my work and soon my paintings were selling faster than I could produce them,” she recalls.

He then showed her work to galleries in London, where they were also enthusiastically received.

“It was wonderful, although I felt quite a bit of pressure - they began to sell them faster than I could do them.” she says. “Painting commercially forces repetition of a subject - I did many flower paintings.”

Her flower paintings are noted for their contrast of texture and the play of light and colour.

Through the London connections, other galleries both in the UK and internationally began to take her work. “There was also a demand in the USA,” she says.

In her spare time, Judith painted landscapes, in particular the wild landscapes of the Yorkshire moors.

When one gallery owner visited her studio to look at still life paintings, he spotted a large canvas of a heather moor and was drawn to it.

“He said he was certain he would be able to sell it,” she recalls. “And he did - in just a couple of days.”

Despite intending to paint landscapes purely for pleasure, she found the demand was so great that she began to produce them commercially.

“I love landscapes. It’s a joy to work with landscape on the easel and to recreate space or sky or a sense of being there,” she says. “The fact that there is a demand makes it even more enjoyable. I like being under pressure.”

As well as moorland, Judith is particularly drawn to woodland.

“I grew up in Leeds, in an area which was very built up, with tiny gardens and no trees. As a child, from my bedroom window, looking into the furthest distance over the rows of rooftops I could see an area of woodland and year after year I used to watch the colours change with the seasons and wish myself there.”

Amazingly, the spot where she has now lived for almost 20 years now, behind woodland, is that very place.

She adds: “Many of my paintings are inspired by local scenes - Middleton Woods for instance is glorious and well-known for its bluebells which I love to paint.”

She sells to the American market through a gallery in New Jersey.

“My paintings travel much further than I do,” she laughs. “I have just sold two paintings to a buyer from Australia who misses Yorkshire and is homesick for it - one is a large woodland scene in winter, and the other a small heather painting.”

The works were spotted by the buyer at Judith’s gallery in Haworth’s Main Street, which opened in 2018 and is run by her son Joshua.

“Over the years I had sold many paintings through previous galleries in Haworth and thought it would be a good place to establish one,” she says. “The gallery has proved very popular and gives me chance to talk to people which I really enjoy as, like most artists, I spend so much time on my own.”

She also paints miniatures. “I go from tiny, business-card sizes to canvases 6ft across,” she says. “I like the variety in my work, from the subject to the scale. It is interesting to move from one to the other.

She adds: “With really big canvases I have to stand on a chair, as they are far bigger than me.”

Judith, who comes from a creative family of film-makers, academics and musicians, paints in oils.

“Oils will do whatever you want them to do. They allow you to work wet-on-wet or to build layer upon layer. The colours interplay and mix easily, and depending on the brushes the paint performs equally on any scale from miniature paintings to huge, wall-sized canvases.

“I work in the studio and avoid taking photographs when walking because my paintings are primarily about the feel rather than the look of a scene. I work from memory and imagination.

“When a painting needs to be topographical I have to refer to a photograph, but otherwise they are mood paintings. People often say that my paintings evoke memories.

“I don’t ever draw on the canvas first. I work in tones which begin with, and are determined by, the sky.”

Judith starts her working day early. “I get up in spring and summer for the light and am sometimes working for hours still in my dressing gown - such is the beauty of working from home,” she says.

“However, I also rise very early in the darker months and make use of an easel lamp and daylight bulbs.

“Sometimes I work in the evenings as well. I force myself to walk to the supermarket every second day to stay in touch with the outside world.”

The time taken to complete a work can vary enormously.

“Sometimes the compositions evolve over months, whereas at other times the composition itself is complete in the first session, in which case I return to the painting to add layers and detail.”

Judith has recently had a series of moorland scenes in The Bingley Gallery, Bingley, curated by owner David Starley. He described her moorland scenes as “exquisite and atmospheric.”

The exhibition celebrated moorland for its beauty and also its importance for carbon capture and the threat from events such as burning and erosion.

Judith loves seeing her work on display. “I feel a sense of gratitude whenever I see my paintings on show,” she says. “My work is for everyone, not just myself.”

l Judith Levin Gallery, 95 Main St, Haworth, Keighley BD22 8DA

For more information about Judith’s work and gallery opening times visit