At the start of this year - 2018 - I decided to rethink my approach to painting. Whilst you may not see any radical changes, I am now working on several particular ongoing series, with a focus on smaller paintings.
My painting work series:
still life 'from life'
I began painting this series toward the end of 2017. However, the ideas for these paintings have been gathering for some time. I have painted botanical shapes, gardens and motifs for many years, including them in both painting and monoprints. Cottages and houses have featured in my gouache works for many years. This current series marries ideas, creating landscapes with quiet tones and delightful details. Inspiration comes from walking in my local neighbourhood where there are many older properties and interesting, sometimes quirky, cottages and small houses. I am also fortunate to live near a large park with woodland, giving inspiration for year-round botanical shapes. Birds appear in these paintings, from time to time.
Working on a small scale has always been an interesting challenge to me. I feel am naturally inclined toward working on a smaller scale and enjoy the approach to 'seeing in small detail'. In a world often dominated by big to work on a small or even miniature scale seems quietly radical. In these small landscapes I aim to create complete worlds that may relate in ways to historical art and folk art but have the starting point in wishing to tell a story. The story, however, is not one fixed narrative. I like to play about with narrative. I've worked with gouache for many years but these paintings see a new approach and a heavier layering of paint than perhaps I have used previously. These gouache paintings are on mount board primed with gesso, with additional patches of linen to create interesting texture (with a hint toward grander paintings on canvas).
This ongoing series of tiny works features single figures. Each work measures just 88mm by 56mm, the size of a bridge playing card. I wish to create works that can be collected one or several at a time, added to over time. My hope is that I can continue to make new tiny portraits over the months ahead, seeing how they may evolve. They are painted in gouache using a limited palette. The gouache is on mount board with linen, primed with gesso. The imagined figures featured in this series include queens and princes, angelic figures, figures dressed in historical or theatrical costume. Their stories are many and various. Inspiration comes from folk art including art in old churches, old textiles and ceramics.
Much of my painting work is imaginative, though inspired by experience of place and/or story. To balance this and to continue to develop my observational skills - and for the sheer love of it - I am aiming to paint a small still life work each week. This may be a detailed painting or a study of a single object, as time allows. I may, at times, find myself painting more than one a week, as inspiration comes about. Working mostly in gouache, these still life works will be on paper and quite modest in size. Painting directly 'from life' I hope to explore a range of subject, with a focus on the natural world.