Experimenting & Loosening Up…blog update

As someone who hardly lifted a paint brush during my time at uni, and even prior to that, wasn’t exactly known for painting, I have recently been spending my time attempting to get to grips with the medium. Even though it has a reputation for being difficult, I have chosen to work in watercolours – glutton and punishment spring to mind! I haven’t had any formal lessons in watercolour – I’m very much ‘going with the flow’! I’m sure watercolour purists would be horrified, and I’m probably breaking every rule in the book – but you know what they say about rules….

Using this medium, along with lots of water, has also provided me with an opportunity to ‘loosen up’ Sometimes I have a tendency to work ‘very tightly’, as in an earlier piece I did called ‘Bowed But Not Broken’ –

Bowed But Not BrokenI want my paintings to be more expressive, more about the paint and the marks – abstracted in a way, although still with a nod to the landscapes I love.

Initially I experimented in my sketchbook – the good old Seawhite!

imageimageimageimageI used Winsor & Newton Professional watercolours along with some Daniel Smith colours – both very good, worth paying that bit extra for! Eventually I could put it off no longer – I had to experiment on ‘proper’ paper! Although the saying is that a good workman should never blame his tools, I think this is definitely a case of ‘the better the paper, the better the result’! I therefore treated myself to a selection of watercolour papers from Jackson’s Art Supplies – highly recommended for their easy to use website and prompt service!

It’s been really interesting learning what the various papers can take! First off I tried Fabriano Artistico Extra White HOT press 140lb. Lovely smooth paper, the paint, along with a fair bit of water moved beautifully over the surface. Here, I should admit to not stretching the paper beforehand…I know, I know – rules… As well as using paint brushes, and here I’m admitting to a bit of hero-worshipping – I use Jean Haines Watercolour brushes (again, worth every penny!) I also use sticks, wooden coffee stirrers & old/unwanted plastic store cards. On this paper I was able to swirl and push the paint around very easily without damaging the surface.

imageimageAlthough the paper withstood quite a lot of water, it did buckle a little – perhaps a reminder to stretch it prior to use. However, I see they do the same paper in 300lb so I might order some of that next!

Next I tried the Bockingford NOT 250lb paper – an altogether different surface! This paper withstood a LOT of water but I found I couldn’t use the plastic card to move the paint around so much as I damaged the slightly rougher texture of the surface. Instead I used my brush along with a wooden stirrer (used very lightly) as well as tilting and turning the paper to create runs.

imageimageimageI was impressed with both papers and would be hard pressed to choose a favourite! Not so my choice of colours, I seem to have a thing for Payne’s Grey, Indigo, Raw Umber and Yellow Ochre – reminding me as they do of the North Norfolk coast in winter, and the autumnal fenland fields of my childhood.

I have yet to try the Arches Aquarelle 400lb sheet or the Two Rivers 300lb – mainly due to my lack of confidence in my ability and the cost… When I do pluck up the courage I will let you know how I get on!

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Opening Night – Inspired by Nature…blog update

Well Thursday 30th April saw the Private View of ‘Inspired by Nature’ at Blue Owl Art, Grantham. Lincs. For ages it just seemed like a date on the calendar but last night saw the materialisation of everyone’s hard work!  The exhibition features the work of nine artists in a variety of mediums, sizes and all importantly prices! And even though the exhibition was themed ‘Inspired by Nature’ – this too, saw a wide variety of responses to the subject.

imageMy work sat alongside that of photographer Peter Roberts, artists Mary Jane Alexander, Jackie Berridge, Jackie Cheetham, Daniel Goodchild, Kate, Robotham and Sue Rowland, and jeweller Sheila Kerr.

imageMary Jane Alexander’s work depicts both landscape and still life in oils. Large and small, the work is rich in colour and texture and possesses a movement, almost rhythmical in nature, that draws your eye around the paintings. I particularly liked The Cherry Orchard and the one of the Downs (the name eludes me for which I sincerely apologise).

imageimageAlongside Mary Jane’s figurative work sat Daniel Goodchild‘s more abstract landscapes. Daniel explores the materiality of the paint, thickly applied (is the term ‘impasto’?) layering marks and textures to produce an abstracted response to the landscape. Standing back from the work, one got an overall feel for the topography and form, but the work drew you closer to explore the textures and colours, to see the detail in each of the marks – luxurious and opulent were the words that came to mind to describe the richness of the oils.

imageimageSue Rowland has a passion for textiles and surface patterns and where better to look for inpiration than the landscape. From her prints and textile piece, you can see she has an eye for the details of the flora and fauna of the natural world – the little things that often get overlooked. The wall hanging was rich in detail as well as colour and textures. My own sewing skills are negligible, so I was hugely impressed with the work and stitching in this piece. Again and again, you were drawn back to the work because you had suddenly spotted another gem – a leaf, a flower, an egg…

imageimageKate Robotham and I studied Fine Art at Loughborough University together so it was great to catch up and hear all the news!

Kate’s work aims to capture some of the mystery of the world around us, encouraging us to investigate further and to take pleasure in our sometimes mundane surroundings. Using composition and texture, her works are rich in colour (I think she has a penchant for blue..) and although two of her pieces in this exhibition were large scale, you were still drawn to take a closer look – just as Kate wants you to do at your own environment….

imageSitting amongst the figurative and abstract works was Jackie Berridge‘s pieces. From a distance they appear naive, childlike even.. but when you investigated further you saw they portrayed a darker side…. Set within imaginary landscapes (inspired by Italianate gardens and English arboretums) which include anthromorphic figures – animal heads set atop human bodies, the work explores relationships both good and bad. Unsettling is the word here…..

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Now for some apologies…..

 

Apologies to Peter Roberts – I haven’t got any images of your work – but as you know I think your landscapes are wonderful – loving the Seaton Carew sunrise and the Beacon Hill Snowy Rocks (not that I am at all biased…)

Apologies also to Sheila Kerr as I haven’t got any images of her jewellery (my photos didn’t turn out well – I’m blaming my Ipad, glass cabinet and spotlights.. nothing at all to do with the Prosecco!) However, she produces the most beautiful pieces of jewellery; bracelets, necklaces, rings… Well worth a look! (Get saving P – got my eye on a bangle…)

Finally apologies to Jackie Cheetham – no images of your work (second glass of Prosecco and lots of talking…) Jackie works in oils and is experimenting with colour and this shone through in her works on display; Magpie – black and white, and another one of daffodils, vibrant and rich in colour!

Also taking place last night was a performance by Lincoln based artists GAST. Take Heed was a piece concerned with the invention/development of the game of tennis – well the gallery is set within Grantham Tennis Club! Everyday is a school day so they say and I certainly learnt a thing or two about the game. Did you know that the scoring system originated from the winning player taking an egg from a basket at the side of the court. The wiiner was therefore the player who had all the eggs in his basket  The french word for egg is l’oeuf which got anglicised to ‘love’….

These artists must be very fit because they ran around for the whole evening…

imageimageI heard lots of positive comments about my own work and the exhibition in general which is always good! Many thanks Jette and Belinda for all your support and hard work. Now if I could just sell some pieces….