BORN under the endlessly blue skies of Africa, Ruth Bond nonetheless relishes the oft lowering landscapes of what is really her native Northumberland.

She has travelled the globe, in the beginning with her parents Wendy and Michael and the latter’s job as a district commissioner helping oversea the transition to independence.

Along the way she absorbed the cultures, colours, textures and the beauty of the natural world she drew on when, her family having long since returned from Zambia to settle in Greenhead, she studied art and later fashion.

But she didn’t actually start painting with the oils that are now her chosen medium until five years ago, when she attended painting classes organised by Newcastle City Learning. “I didn’t believe I was good enough when I did my art foundation,” she said. “And in those days, school only had powder paints or water colours at best.”

So, having spent the intervening years as an interior designer – she won two national awards for Best Kitchen and Best Bathroom designs – she was reinvigorated by them.

“I loved the texture and colours immediately,” she said. “It freed me up to do something creative when the interior design work had become more about project management and less about design and creativity.”

Now her paintings of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, that just happen to be right on her doorstep, are infused with all the light and subtlety her new media allows.

Ruth said: “My seascapes try to reflect the power of the sea, its moods – calm, storm, tranquil, changeable – and especially the light on sea and sand.”

Her most recent work reflects her visit to the Outer Hebrides, where she realised the colours of the natural landscape reminded her of the colour combinations of the renowned Harris Tweeds.

As a result, the paintings resonate with the purple of the peaty rivers, the vibrant turquoise of the seas, the blindingly-white nature of the beaches and the texture of the heathery moors, all of which contribute natural ingredients that go into the dying of the yarns.

“Colour has always been the most important element of my landscapes and seascapes, and the colours I discovered in the Outer Hebrides were astonishing almost beyond imagination.

“Everywhere I went I saw Harris Tweed colour combinations, probably from my fashion and interiors background, and it gave me the idea to link the Harris Tweed swatches with the paintings – the effect it has had on my colour palette has been phenomenal!”

One trip was to the Farne Islands during the spring nesting season, where the quirky and flamboyant puffins caught her eye.

“These birds are such show-offs,” she said. “I’ve tried to capture their spirit and intensify this by embellishing each character with ‘Warhol-esque’ coloured backgrounds, bright and bold, subtle and muted.”

Nature had always inspired her and nowadays she felt incredibly lucky to have a holiday home in Alnmouth, on the North-East coast she loved.

She could often be found walking along the beaches there of a morning, her Border collie Skye at heel. She took photographs as she went to remind her of the sights, colours and emotions she’d experienced, all of which she tapped into at her easel.

“Skies feature a great deal in my paintings, I love painting them in all their transient states, especially when there’s a storm approaching.”