Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Beach Studies

I've spent a few weeks at the beach recently, on the East Coast of Mauritius, in Trou d'Eau Douce, where I have a weekend house.  This is what I did:

8 x 10" Pink Ripples
8 x 10" Patterns on the beach
Pink Rock 8 x 10"
6 x 8" Storm approaching done onsite
6 x 8" Storm approaching 2. done at home afterwards.
8 x 10" done at home afterwards. oil on board. Storm approaching 3
Pink Sand 6 x 8" Oil on board.
8 x 10" The Shallows. Oil on board
Deserted Beach 8 x 10". Oil on board.

6 x 8" oil on board. Calm after the storm.

Vol au Vent, Mauritius

I went back to a favourite spot of mine, Vol au Vent, Henrietta, where there is a superb view over the West of the Island of Mauritius. I was going to carry on with the paintings I had been doing on site there since last year, but as soon as I had set up my easel and paints, it started to rain and a huge cloud descended and almost blocked out the view. These are the old paintings I was going to carry on working on, this is what they looked like in the beginning, but I had put them together to make a diptych and had worked many times over them.:

                                            Picture 1.
61 x 75 Sun coming up. Stage 1 July/August 2011

                                         Picture 2
61 x 75cm view over Medine Sugar Estate, West Mauritius. Stage 1


 Picture 3
61 x 75x 2   I put them together and worked on them on site. Stage 2. I painted over the 2 paintings above.

This is Picture 1 and Picture 2 put together and worked on many times over. I still wasn't happy,so was going to go back and work some more on them. I suppose I should have left Picture 1 alone,and not fiddled with it in the first place, as now it has gone!

I lay them flat on the ground and worked on site every time. Or put one up on my easel. It's a heavenly spot, all alone on a ledge looking down over a huge space. One can only hear the birds and the wind.

This is the study I did in the rain, on Monday 13th August:

                                           Picture 4.
8 x 10" in the rain. small study in oil

61 x 75 oil on canvas, painted over the 2nd picture above.
 At home I painted over the classical view you can see in picture 3 above, the left hand picture. I decided it wasn't 'me' so took my quick sketch I had done in the morning and transposed it on top of the old picture.

Then I did the same with the other one, I took this quick sketch I had done last year, Picture 6,  and transposed it on top of Picture 3, the right hand picture, above to make Picture 7.

                                         Picture 6
5 x 7" oil done on site.
                                         Picture 7
61 x 75 oil on canvas done on top of picture 1.Stage 1.
same as above, stage 2.

This is what it looks like now. You might ask why I paint on top of old pictures. The reason is that I'm not happy with them and when I go back to the spot I ask myself  'what is it that really interests me in this view" and the answer with this view is the lines of the hills as they go off up to the horizon. As I hadn't put them in the first picture, picture 1and 3, I decided to move the whole picture to the right, and in doing this, I had lost the original picture. But it doesn't matter, this is how we progress as artists and how the picture develops. One mustn't be afraid of losing a picture, a better one always come in it's place, it's just the initial courage that one needs!

My pictures are becoming more abstract too, more modern which is a good thing, I'm painting the feeling of the place.

Friday, 10 August 2012

7 Cascades, 4th Pool, Blue/Red Form and Space, the thought process and unfolding of ONE picture over 9 months.

In October 2011, when I was down at the waterfalls, sketching most days I did this charcoal sketch:

 25 x 21cm Moleskin sketch book. Charcoal.
 It kept coming back to me in my mind so, I suppose a few weeks later, I made a study of it  in oil on a 10 x 8" board:

25cm x 19.5cm Oil on Hardboard.

Then I made an oil painting of it using some bright colours:

65cm x 50cm Oil on linen canvas, primed with rabbit skin glue and oil primer.

That was the end of the painting for the moment.

In July 2012 I went to the UK to visit my family and went to see my teacher, Richard Webb for a tutorial. He looked through my pictures and made a comment on this painting saying how much he liked it. I too, liked that particular picture but as it was 'half finished' and had left it, was quite surprised by his comment.

When I got back to Mauritius, in July,  I kept thinking about the picture, so took it out and decided to make some small colour plays of it.  I took my new pigments, oil, glass palette, the whole lot, and a very large canvas too and went to paint with a friend. These 4 paintings are what I did all on one day:

Oil on MDF 20.3 x 19.5cm

Oil on MDF 20.3 x 19.5cm

Oil on MDF 20.3 x 19.5cm

 107cm x 89cm Oil on linen, primed with
rabbit skin glue and oil primer

I posted it onto Plein Air Artists website and made a comment about not liking some parts of it. I had been looking and admiring Thomas Wezwick's  work so decided to have another go at the picture using bigger brush strokes and using all of my studies rather than just enlarging the small sketch. The artists who inspire me at the moment are: Wolf Khan,  Chiam Soutine, and Paul Wonner. It was the messiness and huge brush strokes that I loved.

I also tried not to 'copy' the smaller sketches, but to let the painting tell me what to do. I was aware that I wasn't doing this enough when painting big pictures, so I kept my eyes in front and tried to feel what to do, and it worked.

This is what I produced, it was painted over the picture above, I had no idea that it would change so much:

117 x 89cm (34 x 42") Home made oils on Linen, primed with rabbit skin glue and oil primer.

I was aware I was expressing myself emotionally at the time, something I haven't done before. I worked in a fast fury in the evening from 9 till 1.30am, I was totally transported! I find it easier to work at night when the house is quiet and all the housework jobs are done. I appreciate it is very hard for women to paint at home, and little tricks like this:  painting early morning or late evening, going to paint with a friend, or having a friend come to paint with you are very important and help us to concentrate and work.

In Khan's book by Justin Spring he says "This intuitive interpenetration of forms and space is one of the most personal features of an artist's method of composition, standing in stark opposition to the mechanical and experientially false system of linear perspective, which both the impressionists and Cezanne had rejected. The new sense of spacial recession, achieved with colour, became an indispensable part of Kahn's vocabulary." I feel I am doing this, it is space and form, interpreted by colour that are my major sources of inspiration. I feel colour for definite parts of my paintings when looking at the landscape. This has always amazed me. When I go back again to a place and carry on a painting, I will pick exactly the same colour for a particular part without looking at the canvas first.

I feel it important to explain how a painting takes a long time to develop, slowly in it's own time, over a matter of months. I wait for the painting to tell me what to do and it does. I am in the dark all the time, not even aware that I am building the blocks of a painting, until it comes together at the end. I just keep doing what I feel I should be doing, whether it's going out to paint on location or working from sketches.  I can also leave it for a while, travel for example and do sketches there, then will carry on when back, not interrupted by the break.

I hope that by explaining this I will help other artists in their search for the needle in the haystack, and encourage them not to stop looking, they will find it!  It's not the end result or the taking part that is important, but the journey of discovery.