After some time on the canal, I’m spending this month travelling around in the van, fitting in family events along the way. I’ll be sketching as I go, so will hopefully be posting as I can, or more likely catching up here later in August.
Currently I have work on display still in Northern Ireland until the end of the month, and was really delighted to receive the award of ‘ Highly Commended Whole Submission’ from the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists for all three Fieldwork prints, currently on display as part of the Friends Exhibition at the RBSA gallery in Birmingham until the 16th July.
More about the inspiration and the making of the prints here and here.
My pastel painting ‘the pathless wood’ has been selected for the Weston Park national open art exhibition, showing for the month of August in the Granary Gallery. When I started exhibiting two years ago, this was the first gallery to accept my work. I was very pleased to receive their support then and now, a great confidence-booster and a fabulous exhibition to visit.
‘uphill’ iscurrently at the framer’s in readiness for the RBSA Prize exhibition in Birmingham, from 4th May until 4th June, 2016. I’m very pleased to have had it accepted. I love working in pastel. It’s such a fresh and direct medium. For me, it’s a great complement to my printmaking, which is just about as indirect as you can get.
This little painting started as a quick sketch of a West Shropshire hillside near the cottage of a friend. The track winds uphill to their house and beyond. The landscape is a working one of low rolling green hills and meandering valleys, with open views to the south and east towards the wildness of the Shropshire Hills, Long Mynd and the Stiperstones.
Resisting a strong tendency to try to draw everything, I focussed on what had originally attracted my eye, the double-curve of the track and the hawthorn tree and shadow just to the right. I worked the composition lines in later. They helped incorporate a sense of the lay of the land in the finished painting; I kept the square format, worked well into the canvas board for the colour and texture but omitted the sheep. I’ve been thinking in green for a while now. Must do some more.
The title is a reference to a line from ‘Birches’, a poem by Robert Frost.
..when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood..
When life feels like that, I go for a walk, usually in the woods nearby. This painting started as a watercolour sketch in one of my sketchbooks that I developed as a woodcut print. I then revisited it last year as a large pastel. I kept the 2:1 height to width format throughout.
Over the winter, I spent some time trying to force a reconciliation between the work I do as a printmaker and the work I do as a painter. Both start from direct observation and resultant sketchbook work. But then they diverge.
In my printmaking, I tend to work from a monochrome start, and get very interested in form, pattern and composition, mostly inspired by urban landscapes around me, often reflected and distanced in some way. My painting tends to the experimental in mixed media, inks, colour and pastel, inspired by landscapes with which I have a personal relationship.
There are many ways we create blocks to our creativity. This is one of mine. The pursuit for consistency, a ‘voice’, whatever you want to call it. So, I’ve decided to be more relaxed generally about any perceived ‘split’ in subject and media. All reflect my interests, all resolve well (or sometimes don’t) in the different media and processes involved. I get a lot of satisfaction and pleasure from both printmaking and painting. Maybe some day they’ll come together, maybe they won’t… in the meantime, I’ll keep sketching and exploring wherever my fancy takes me.
I have work in exhibitions in three countries this summer. Very exciting, and great to be able to connect with other artists both locally and elsewhere.