Journal

Prussia Cove Artist Retreat

I’ve long wanted to have the opportunity to join several other women artists on a week long retreat at Prussia Cove and finally got an invitation from Jacqui to share a week with another girl Karen.

I’d been there before and admired the timelessness of the secluded coves and the arts and crafts house nestled in under the cliffs.

It’s now part of a larger holiday letting estate called Porth en ‘Alls and they have several properties to let including coastguard cottages.

The house was pretty antiquated. An attempt to keep it’s authenticity and charm, but the cold bathrooms and lack of showers took a little getting used to.

Anyway the weather was exceptional for the time of year and most of the time was spent outside either walking the coast path or just taking a cup of tea down onto the little beach early in the morning.

It was solitude in nature and blissful.

 

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.

Liquid sunshine , Cornish Gorse

The liquid sunshine of Cornish gorse has filled my coastal journeys this Spring.  The beautiful May coloured the coast a vivid yellow matched by my cadmium yellows dark and light and filtered into many of my new paintings.

I usually make a cocktail to match the theme of my annual solo show and this year it has to be the vanilla coconut fragrance and taste of the gorse flower.

The Cornish call gorse ‘Furzey’ probably due to its apparent fuzzy nature but picking the buds wasn’t so easy.  A slow arduous process as the darn bushes have some nasty spikes.

There is also a lot of folklore associated with it. The proverb ‘ Kissing is out of fashion when gorse is out of blossom’; it was often used as wedding decoration and if a sprig was tied to the door on May day, you could get a glass of milk and slice of bread as a gesture.

I love painting gorse…..mixing cadmium yellows with paynes grey gives a beautiful warm greeny grey that is in the dark tangled undergrowth and with my loose spatter style, a myriad of yellow profuse and mix to make a dense yellow carpet to depict the gorse in full flower.

gorse bushes on the cliff edge Widemouth Bay

 

Gorse painting

Art trip to Dublin

I’ve been using just oil paints for a month. I’m not ditching the acrylics or inks, but wanted to grasp a feel for this new buttery greasy feeling paint with new techniques, experiments and stronger deeper paintings.  But I have found I’m working just like I did with acrylics and inks.  Am I meant to just use acrylics and inks as I can get the effect I want or will oils give me a new repetoire and more subtlety and depth to my work?  I felt like I needed to see some great art for inspiration and when the invitation to Don’s cousins book launch in Dublin landed in my inbox, it felt like Dublin may be the perfect place to find it.

Cheap flights, a cheapish (nowhere is cheap in Dublin) hotel with a great location so we could walk everywhere. we arrived with a list of the major art galleries and museums.

Don spent a lot of his late teens and early twenties here, so it was a trip down memory lane for him. The major sites haven’t changed, but the city has grown and very much become a tourist destination now.  The last time we both visited was eight years ago with Annie Kent. My memory of it for one short day, was of intense disappointment at the drab and grey of the city with very high brick buildings, so this time I went with no expectations.

This time Temple Bar felt vibrant and colourful with some great eateries and the Grafton Street area still felt authentic.  Dublin is easy to get around using the tram or on foot with several bridges crossing the Liffey.

 

The National Gallery had incredible works on display and so varied for it’s timeline and style.  Loved the modern portrait exhibition there and although not my thing, learnt from it.

The highlight, The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) was quite a walk so I might suggest the tram to the nearest stop. It had fabulous gardens and changes exhibition frequently.  The current exhibition of ‘Coast Lines’ featured several Cornish artists. Just to see the scale of work and get up close is always worth going in person.  Art really feeds the soul.

We also revisited Dublin City Gallery and worth a visit any time to see the permanent glass encased studio of Francis Bacon. Has to be seen to be believed!

The colourful streets of Temple Bar