London Foray to see Pierre Bonnard and Tracey Emin

Pierre Bonnard has long been one of my favourite artists.  He was one of the lesser known impressionists, but painted with such sensitivity and understanding of colour.

After a chance meeting with an old school friend, I arranged a trip to London and couldn’t wait for March to come.

I’ve only been  to London a few times before  so I was pretty excited about my trip to the big smoke. Tricia has lived  in London since she left school and  knows it like the back of her hand, so I had the perfect tour guide for my two days away.  With snippets of history, landmarks, the contrast of old and new, the spirit of each neighbourhood  we visited and how it has changed along with some great food experiences and drinks from the top of the gherkin we walked, talked, had a few wines and a few laughs and it was just the best break .

I digress…

I had been following the Bonnard hashtag on instagram avidly and had a feel for the exhibition before I went, but there is nothing that prepares you for a gallery experience where the scale and paintings comes alive. It was also my first visit to Tate Modern and it is huge!!  The Bonnard exhibition filled 13 rooms and of those Room 8 stood out. Containing the work  he made in 1927, several of the artworks had been removed from their frames to give a sense of them just having been finished and the room had a continuity and cohesive feel set against a soft grey backdrop. (all the rooms had been painted to reflect his palette or indeed the colours of his original home).  The bathroom paintings had such a light which bounced around the room and the garden paintings just jumped out at you with their vitality.

I read a great article by Barry Schwabsky which really resonated with me and helped me explain my own painting practice. ‘Standing on the edge of space, painting the feeling which is constantly changing, the painting is never finished and lives on.  Working from memory, capturing fleeting moments and moods his paintings are filled with the rhythm of life. ‘

In contrast to the Bonnard and totally unplanned Tricia suggested we go to see Tracey Emin at The White Cube Gallery.  Using a limited palette with lots of raw canvas left showing and with massive space around each artwork which allowed it to breath with some huge mind blowing sculptures and vast reflective floors, it was an assault on the emotions.  I wouldn’t have expected anything else from her.  I really liked the palette but I think feminine sugary pinks used almost made you think she has come to terms with  what she was working through.

Very abstract and on a scale that was massive, the gestural strokes had a lot of energy through a very cathartic process of love, anger and loss in   ‘A Fortnight of Tears’.

I could write so much more.  I loved my foray to London and hope that Tricia and I keep the friendship going. I can’t wait to go back. It amazing to be able to live in such a beautiful place here  in Bude, but what a gift to be able to go to see such amazing art on such a scale.

A little footnote.  If you go across the millennium bridge be sure to look down . I can guarantee the little painted chewing gum montages will make you smile.

 

B side social live painting

The B side Social was set up by a group of lovely people, mostly friends of my son Tom who wanted a very social event which has the festival vibe though only for one night . It’s held as a monthly event of dj vinyl, food, Tom’s rum bar, guest beers and art.  Starting at 6pm and ending at 11pm on the dot, it gets lively very early and the party atmosphere doesn’t stop.

This year an 8ft square plywood board is in place which is painted by guest artists every month.

After a busy summer I was asked if I could do the September slot which  coincided with their special ‘girl takeover’.  I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but have never painted quite on this scale before.

Don and I prepped the board the night before with a brown ‘Truffle’ paint.  A great opportunity to get a feel for the scale of it and I quickly upscaled the size of my brushes!.

I wasn’t even really very nervous and decided to go with the flow.  I had seen Jen Dixon working the board before looking very relaxed so took a leaf out of her book and she said I was going to enjoy it, so I was determined to do so and let it be.  I luckily had some emulsions to work with which cover the board quickly and dry fast.

I painted intuitively with a limited palette with  two pop  colours I added for ‘pop’ and they really added the ‘Wow’ factor.  A luscious copper metallic acrylic I have never used and a vibrant pink emulsion I had been given years ago.  ( goodness knows when that was ever used!).  The music led my painting and movements too.

The boys on the Sharps beer bar kept my going with great comments and I had lots of the punters coming up and saying how they loved it.

It was difficult to stand back from it because of the crowd, the light was fading fast and I was up and down that pair of steps more times than I can imagine, but I loved it.  The music was brilliant and keeps you jigging about.

After three hours I called it a day, but wanted to make it special to BSide and Emma helped me come up with a hashtag. Although some were mortified that I put writing over it, it felt right. This was  temporary piece of art, so I hashtagged it #BsSideGirlTakeOver in the brilliant pink.

Danced the rest of the night away and the painting was packed away in the shed for next month’s event.  Yay.. awesome job done and I loved it.

Seascape Commission of Duckpool, North Cornwall

Painting a a commission of Duckpool , North Cornwall, of the sea and a beach I’m not so familiar with, faced me with a few challenges.

The commission came from a lovely family to remember their first and favourite beach in North Cornwall that held so many memories and years of holidays in the area.

Duckpool is a fairly undiscovered spot in a beautiful valley that runs down to the sea from Kilkhampton in North Cornwall.  The roads are steep, narrow and windy and not for the faint hearted, but this affords the most stunning rugged landscape laid out that has not changed for centuries.

The beach is framed by towering cliffs and it’s not difficult to imagine the years of smuggling and hard life in this valley.

I spent some time here just absorbing the feeling of the place and it is often the memory of a glimpse of light that stays with me.  This was the case this October with beautiful low sunlight coming through the waves.  My clients knew the sea well and loved the light at this time of year, so it seemed timely to include it.

We measured the space to get the best proportion for the painting. Scale is so important and I love a large painting to give impact. With a blank canvas of 140 x 90cm facing me, it’s a brave first step to put some acrylic inks fluidly onto the canvas.

The following pictures show the journey…..

The finished painting was framed in a tray frame.  The wave has light and colour and the whole painting an immense feeling of energy and movement in the sea.  The foreground balances the left background with the dark rocks.  The stones in the foreground are loosely painted with a variety of colours giving the whole painting a harmonious feeling.

My best to date?  maybe it feels like that because of the way I felt challenged. It was certainly worth the effort.

Prints of the painting are available. Please enquire here.

A Cornish Seascape -Surrender to the Ocean

Surrender to the Ocean is the title of my centre piece Cornish seascape for my exhibition ‘The Sea and Me’ held in August 2017 at the Castle, Bude.

With no particular aim or scene in mind, I had one large painting to make for my exhibition and I had a blank 140 x 90 cm stretched canvas to fill.

I always have an iconic wave painting for my exhibition each year and I wanted this to be much more fluid rather than drawn, a certain wateriness whilst having vibrancy and lots of movement and energy.

The first washy layers gave me some form and the wave revealed itself.

The finished painting for the exhibition.  It had mixed reactions, but everyone felt like they were standing in front of something quite formidable. I just wanted to dive under it… to surrender to the ocean, but for some it, they felt overwhelmed and feared drowning.

large Cornish seascape of North Cornwall coast titled Surrender

Surrender to the Ocean 140 x 90cm

I had very little time to complete it and after the exhibition, I actually completely painting out the foreground and reworked it, strengthening the whole painting. The foreground spatters didn’t make sense to me and were too random lacking depth and tonality.  The finished reworked painting now hangs in Rick Steins restaurant at Porthleven.

cornwall seascape painting Bude

large seascape painting of cornwall

The Sea as Sanctuary

I spend a lot of time on the beach and in the sea. It has always been my sanctuary, but I hadn’t realised how important it was for me until this year.

Life throws you a sideswipe from time to time. We have been very blessed, but this year so far has been sadness on top of sadness for our personal family and close friends. We lost our dear Mum and Nan in February and then the loss of two young men through cancer and heart failure has touched us beyond measure.

We are very lucky to live by the sea and never take it for granted, but it is only through their passages of grief, I have realised I am certainly not alone in finding sanctuary there. Whether it is time remember watching sunsets, playing as a child or just for the experience of being by the sea, it is a special place for many.

I think we all find solace in the space, the ocean, the clean air, and it is a coming together of all the elements including ourselves to be one?

For me, being in the sea and with my favourite element of water, time stands still. I just ‘be’ and enjoy the experience of invigorating ionised air and the energy of the water as it is pulled by other forces, the weather and the moon.

There have been some epic sunsets of late too which just fill your heart and soul with wonder.