Since open studios I've had plenty of time to focus on my work without the pressure of an exhibition! I also made it to Rhossili when I was in Wales recently, and was very inspired to paint the delicate hues of the sea.
Painting outdoors has been great for me to put a lot of technique and observation into my practice. The sunlight does shift and change throughout my sessions, which I initially found quite a pain, but through some determination and battles with the great British weather, I've got rather fond of it! This painting below was achieved by going back to the same place at the same time of day. (I did two sessions of this painting so far, painted between 11am and 1pm). I was very focussed on getting the right tone and colour of the rooftops, experimenting with architecture in the landscape, in preparation for the 'Pintar Rapido' competition in London. I will have Saturday the 29th July from 9-5 to create a painting, which will displayed for an exhibition on the Sunday from 11am in Chelsea Old town hall. I've not done it before and imagine it to be quite a big competition, but I like a challenge and meeting lots of artists! Canvasses are stretched, primed, and frame has arrived so only the day needs to arrive…
Sometimes the subject matter I choose often feels very eclectic, and recently I've been writing in my sketchbooks what I've been trying to achieve, understand or investigate. Flicking through Instagram one morning I found a quote by Francis Bacon, where he states 'the job of the painter is to deepen the mystery.' I can sit and think about those words a lot of the time, which is why I like them. Painting is certainly an emotional experience for me, both to capture the expression of the subject and complicate it with my own emotions. Painting is a mysterious entanglement of intense observation soaking in visual information and conveying it backwards onto a surface. The artist mirrors the world to an extent, through a complex and interesting surface of their personality. Sometimes the weight of pressure I give myself to produce something ideally beautiful makes me stop and think at the canvas sometimes too often. I often just paint scenes from everyday life to keep me painting, to keep my practice moving and interesting.
Actually, despite all the conceptual side I have buzzing in my head, wandering around the garden has been my main interest. I've seen so many changes, colours and shapes I am in fact full to the brim with ideas, just not enough canvasses and space! This painting above, was inspired by the evening colours and light upon the roses. I left many of the shapes and details left loose and expressive, as I notice more and more that paint often naturally speaks for the subject untouched. I now find some of my portfolio of work since leaving University has moments of coherence, so I expand and develop my work using the brush marks I liked on a previous piece. This painting of roses has left me interested in more shapes and colours around the garden, particularly shadows. It has been a bright and sunny day today so I've been drawing around shadow shapes, making some interesting patterns.
Another shadow study, painted outdoors.
The cows were initially very polite when I started painting on location here, but actually became rather too friendly and started nibbling at my canvasses and painting box! Artists quality indeed!
Something I hadn't done in quite a while, was life drawing, so I was quite keen to give it a go after so many years. Fortunately the techniques and hand eye coordination hadn't all been quite lost! (And hopefully aided by painting outdoors) Working on toned paper is my preferred way to draw during a life class, as it helps to express the mid tones without too much effort and wasted scribbling. These were conte crayons on a pad of earthy toned papers that I bought in Pegasus art supplies (an excellent art shop to use, even if you're not nearby they do deliver). Conte crayons are notoriously difficult because they can be unforgivingly hard and reluctant to be rubbed out, but if you apply delicate pressure they achieve similar effects to charcoal.
These two -unusual- paintings were a commission I have been working on for quite a while. I was given the topic of 'cells and dna' and given the opportunity to produce two paintings that will be going to the new office buildings of Akesogen in Atlanta, which has been super exciting! They are a biotechnology company who provide research services in genomic data – really interesting, and quite a hot topic in science, and their research has been featured in National Geographic magazine. My biology knowledge only extends to GCSE…My science interests were mostly in physics and astronomy, which I took to A level! So I began looking at images of plant cells under the microscope, bizarre images of different cells clustered together and came up with two abstracts. One of my artists friends said he was often irritated by the people who claim that abstract art is 'easy' and 'so relaxing..!' I almost want to agree with him, as the amount of thought, layers, re-thinking, second opinions and colour choices that went into this was tremendous! I began with a simple sketch and one black and white electron microscope photo, but that was it. Exploring these abstract shapes really opened up another part of my brain and got me focussed on the canvas. These are only photos of the pieces taken in my studio, but now they've arrived in Atlanta I'll be looking forward to some images of the works in situ.
One more thing I must mention, is that I will be doing a solo show of my work at the end of this year..! Save the dates Monday 27th to the 3rd of December, with a private view evening of the 27th, because you're very welcome! It will be at Lansdown gallery, Stroud, and will roughly hang about 20 paintings, so I envision a lot of work and thought to be going into it.