Triplets learned to paint thanks to grandfather

Rachel, Sarah and Rebekah White with their grandfather Alan.
Rachel, Sarah and Rebekah White with their grandfather Alan.
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A set of identical teen triplets, with close family ties to north Northumberland, are making a real name for themselves in the art world.

The 16-year-old trio, who work individually but also together on the same piece at the same time, appeared on last Tuesday’s episode of Sky Arts’ Landscape Artist of the Year.

And it was the girls’s proud grandfather Alan White, a long-term resident of North Lane, Seahouses, who taught art to Rachel, Sarah and Rebekah, from the age of 11.

Alan’s father, Edward Fordy White, was also a very well-known figure in the village, working well into his 90s and playing bowls until he was 98 or 99.

The family lives in Surrey, but the girls have been coming up on holiday to Northumberland for the past six or seven years and familiar landmarks such as Bamburgh Castle can be found among their artworks.

Dad Richard said: “We are big fans of Northumberland; my dad and granddad hail from there.

The triplets during the filming for Sky Arts' Landscape Artist of the Year.

The triplets during the filming for Sky Arts' Landscape Artist of the Year.

“As the girls got older, they became interested in where I used to holiday so we have travelled all over Northumberland really.”

At primary school, a teacher noticed that the girls had a talent for art and when Alan saw their work, he said that it needed to be nurtured.

So he took it upon himself to teach the girls for a couple of hours a week to take them to a level at which they knew all the basic concepts of art.

The triplets’ burgeoning careers started to take off when their mum found a website which printed pictures or artworks onto mugs and other household items and the girls used a painting of a robin.

Northumberland does crop up in their work, such as this 'test piece' of Bamburgh Castle by Sarah.

Northumberland does crop up in their work, such as this 'test piece' of Bamburgh Castle by Sarah.

This first effort proved popular and it all grew from there – before long, people were asking for commissions.

There are downsides to their success, as Richard explained, such as when someone offered £1,000 for a triptych of Parisian scenes which was meant to have been an anniversary present for he and his wife.

The money is reinvested, as it were, in the girls’ art so, for example, they have a home studio at the bottom of the garden.

It is hoped their television appearance will further spread the word of Art by Three, as they call themselves, and the novelty of the triplets working together on three canvasses, making up one landscape painting, certainly caught the eye of the presenters, including Joan Bakewell.

For more information about the girls and their work, visit www.artbythree.co.uk