The poster for the exhibition of my latest monotypes now showing at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devonshire, TQ13 9AF open daily 10 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. until 9th October 2017
My latest exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen is of my monotypes and references me as an artist and gardener.
My first gardening memories are of helping my grandfather water his garden. He grew beautiful phlox and had borders neatly lined with thrift, and dug weeds out of his lawn by hand. My parents gave me a section of garden and I spent hours tending the plants and transplanting them fascinated by the juxtaposition of colours and forms in nature. I created order and pattern in my planting where nature sought disorder. From an early age favourites developed: the happy faces of violas and pansies, the delicacy of snowdrops, the brilliance of poppies, the enormous scale of hollyhocks and sunflowers. I grew annuals from seed and learnt how to propagate from cuttings.
Visiting great and famous gardens is always a joy, a source of ideas and inspiration for my own garden. Visiting national galleries and special exhibitions is equally imperative for inspiration for my art work. The Royal Academy’s curators of the exhibition “Painting the Modern Garden, Monet to Matisse” selected artists who were keen gardeners and this helped form my ideas for this exhibition.
My passion for gardens and gardening runs parallel with my passion for painting and printing, for colour and texture. The prints in this exhibition are monotypes, developed from studies in my sketchbooks of grand gardens and developed into my own secret garden.
The freedom allowed in the monotype technique gives scope for freehand drawing and was a process used by Degas in his drawings of ballet dancers, which he worked upon with pastel. Many of my monotypes have 3 or 4 printed colours in oil based printing ink and some have added hand colouring with pastel or oil paint. They are printed by hand using a Japanese baren on Fabriano paper.
This is my first blog of 2016: My new year’s resolution was to get fit and take a daily walk along the South Devon coast path, with camera. Those photos will be the subject of a future blog!
Meanwhile I have been reviewing the walks and photographs from last summer. On all my excursions I was looking for GREEN and my camera recorded green from the North of Wales to the South of France. Let’s start in North Wales:
Spending a few days in the Llyn Peninsula on the north coast of Wales in the small town of Nefyn I was lucky to be able to take some photographs in perfect weather, capturing the beauty of the sheltered bay.
It is always a joy to hear the Welsh accent and in Nefyn the Welsh language is spoken by most of the locals. Nefyn is an old settlement dating back to the Iron Age with a hill fort, Garn Boduan. Fishing for herring was an important part of the economy in Nefyn during the 18th and 19th Centuries. There’s an excellent local maritime museum in the renovated St Mary’s Church, run by volunteers, which admirably tells the interesting stories and history of Nefyn.
I love the contrast of this man-made turquoise green net against the natural greens of the wild flowers on the cliff edge, overlooking Nefyn beach. Nefyn is now a popular holiday area for families with a safe sand beach and yacht club. Everyone seemed to know everyone on the beach with families returning year after year to their beach huts and boats.
The beach huts are a necessity for the picnicking or barbecuing equipment as well as all the swimming and boating gear. I love the colour, order and pattern of the beach huts, and imagine the stories they could tell.
Walking along the sandy beach at low tide I marvelled at the seaweed, a different variety from those on my local beach at Meadfoot. I wondered if this is the Welsh seaweed for laverbread or is it a sea lettuce? The themes of land, sea and sky, the textures of the landscape, the shape and forms of rocks are of continuing interest and all will inform and be referenced in my future artworks.
I photographed many beautiful stones, and this volcanic pebble had to be selected for my blog just for its greenness!
I walked along the stretch of the coast path which skirts the golf course and overlooks the picturesque Porthdinllaen Bay, enjoying the views and the wild flowers, the contours the golf links and the varying green hues of the grasses.
How many greens? Fifty at least!
And at least fifty blues ……
“Land, Sea and Sky” is now on exhibition in “Celebrate” at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, until 6th September.
For my next project I am exploring a green palette. Hence the title of this blog Fifty Shades of Green.
For inspiration I have been looking back at my photographs of the bright fresh greens of the Peak District in early June, while staying at Blore Hall, near Ilam.
The sunlight on fields, woodland trees, dappled shade over rivers and ponds.
I adored the fields of buttercups – the golden yellow hovering over the green – the texture is just crying out to be captured in a collagraph plate.
How to create this range of greens in the studio? I have printed lemon and primrose yellows over ocean blue and turquoise lake; and over crimson on white and black Somerset paper. By varying the transparency and thickness of the inks I am obtaining differing hues and tones of green.
My visit to the Peak District timed perfectly for the hawthorn blossoms. The clear white flowers and the bright translucent leaves against the blue sky made for a perfect June day.
I love the shape of the gnarled wood of the hawthorn hedge and the patterns the branches have made interwoven with the remains of a fence.
The boundaries of fences, hedges and dry stone walls and the lines of pathways all form inspiration for boundaries and edges of shapes in my prints and collages. For the printing plate I am using textiles – blanket pieces hand stitched with a herring bone stitch to create the pattern of fields. These are textured with an artist’s medium before being sealed and printed by the intaglio process. This creates a beautiful rich embossing.
I have been printing sheets of paper for use as collage, just as Matisse did for his Cut Outs, The magnificent exhibition of these works at the Tate Modern gallery last year was a joyous inspiration.
Mondrian’s shapes and compositions are reminiscent in this farm building in Tissington, and also in my work in progress, prints hanging up to dry in my studio. These may well have further printings and/or collaged printed papers applied. I shall be working on these prints over the next few months, heading towards Fifty Shades of Green, with the deadline for this project being “Life Illustrated” 12 October – 15 November, which will also show my sketchbooks. The sketchbooks and workbooks will form a future blog.