TIME OUT: Deeply into her painting . . .

YOU could call it the ultimate watercolour. Except maverick painter Caroline Appleyard has to use some smart paint, not to mention unusual techniques, to fulfil her wish to paint underwater.

A keen scuba diver and photographer she chanced upon the idea of doing something beyond snapping beneath the waves.

"I thought it was a shame I couldn't paint underwater instead," she says ahead of exhibiting at the 2010 Great Sheffield Art Show tomorrow.

"It's taken a couple of hundred dives to work out how to do it. I use oil pastels so I don't pollute the sea.

"But they wouldn't stick to the canvas, which floated away.

"I tried lots of primers and ended up painting on hardboard."

And talk about suffering for her art. "I've been cold and been bitten, nipped and stung," says Chesterfield-based Caroline, who now paints full time in spite of no formal training.

"Crabs run off with my pastels – they are especially fond of cadmium yellow – so I'll be laid on the seabed in my dive gear painting away and my pastels start walking off. I had a lionsmane jelly fish land on me: I looked like something out of an Alien film. That really stung."

Add to that the fact Caroline listens to fast metal music on her MP3 player so she paints faster and enjoys working at WW1 German wrecks and you've got one of the more unusual artists at this year's three-day show.

She also likes to include a snail called Brian in her oceanic work, named after her dad who was a Magic Roundabout fan, but does turn her attention to local sights in Sheffield, Derbyshire and beyond.

Also contributing to the 1400 exhibits inside Sheffield University's Octagon Centre until Sunday is Doncaster's Julie Cross who follows the motto 'where there's muck there's brass'.

The 5000 visitors expected at the 23rd annual show will be able to view her painting Power, featuring Ferrybridge Power Station.

Inspired by "the industrial, the mundane and even the downright decrepit", Julie has also submitted one of the colliery that employed her grandfather.

"I like to make people think a little when they view my work," she says. "Featuring these unusual subjects makes the viewer stop in their tracks and wonder what it is about this common or garden subject that merits attention."

Celia Smith interrupted a holiday in the Lake District to travel to Sheffield so she could submit paintings to the GSHA selection committee for the "biggest, best, busiest and most exciting" show in the area.

Trained at Doncaster School of Art "many moons ago", she was fortunate to have all six of her entries accepted, including one of a cheetah painted from a photograph taken by a friend and named Don't Mess Wi' Me.

Pat Abdurrahman, from Shafton, Barnsley, is an Octagon first-timer after taking her painting more seriously in the past 10 years. A Barnsley Art Society member, she also paints with a group called Art Buddies.

INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed British artist Natty Brooker has an exhibition of his work at Sheffield's SmartArtGalleries from next week.

Best know for his collaboration with seminal bands Spaceman 3 and Spiritualised and following successful shows in Los Angeles, Berlin, Copenhagen, Glasgow and London, The Art Of Spaceman 3: The Hallucinatory Art of Natty Brooker, opens at 249 Baslow Road on July 17.

Curated by friend and former bandmate Will Carruthers, the show is the culmination of a lifetime's work for the artist, currently battling cancer.

"Natty is a genius pure and simple," said Will. "His influence as an artist on the British music scene was far reaching."

The launch will feature live music and DJ sets from 8pm till late.

Got a view? Leave a comment below.

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