THE POWER OF BLUE

There is nothing more important for me than a limited color palette and I have been learning a lot about the colors of Spring these last few weeks.

I am making a point of always walking or cycling with my sketchbook and paints.  I use ink because it dries quickly and is permanent.  Then I annotate the sketch with notes that act as a prompt when I get back to my studio.  Quite often the landscape I have sketched never makes it past my small sketchbook but I love looking back at these and remembering where is was and what it felt like to look at that view.  

 

Spring is all about the greens of course.  But there are also yellows and pinks and cool greys.  Often the final wash in these sketches is one of ultramarine - it turns the shadows a gentle turquoise and cools down the yellows of the Spring rape.   

Spring is all about the greens of course.  But there are also yellows and pinks and cool greys.  Often the final wash in these sketches is one of ultramarine - it turns the shadows a gentle turquoise and cools down the yellows of the Spring rape.

 

I have been using blue to cool down the shadows in this St Ives commission, photographed in the street outside my Winchester studio, and also in my Yosemite paintings seen below.

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St Ives 9

Yosemite rockface

Yosemite rockface

Ultramarine is the blue I turn to more than any other - particularly when it is Michael Harding oil paint.  The tinting strength is such that I only have to use a touch to cool down a colour

COMING UP...

It has been full on through March and April with The Other Art Fair in London and two commissions to finish, as well as another fair at Goodwood next month.  Put the date in your diary and come along if you can..

SUSSEX ART FAIR

GOODWOOD RACECOURSE
17th - 19th May

MARCH FAIRS!

A trip to St Ives just before Christmas was just what I needed to kickstart the canvasses I shall be taking to The Other Art Fair this March.  

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Another fix of that extraordinary light and an excuse to revisit my ‘cornish’ colour palette  - ultramarine, yellow ochre, raw umber, warm white and a touch of pink.  Photographs simply act as a prompt. The real memory joggers are my sketches. 

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Sketchbook

Sketchbook

I have sea and rocks in mind for my next 2 large canvasses.  In the meantime I have completed 2 more large St Ives canvasses inspired by the late afternoon Winter light overlooking Porthmeor beach.  The first was relatively straightforward - the 2nd took much longer for some reason. 

St Ives 8

St Ives 8

Alongside the St Ives paintings I have been working on another series of paintings inspired by my trip to Yosemite in the Autumn.  Memories of burnt trees, pink soil, purple and blue grey cliffs and the intense yellows of the maple trees.   I have completed 3 works so far - each one beginning with spray paint which I apply outside my studio in random shapes of colour.  These shapes guide the painting forward through layers of ink, acrylic and finally oil.  The last 2 Yosemite paintings have been diptychs...one work created across two canvasses - a first for me.  I am playing with colour and mark.  Not too much control - simply allowing the painting to speak to me as I build up the layers.

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I shall be taking my Yosemite and St Ives collection to THE OTHER ART FAIR at Trumans Brewery in March.  Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th.  The same weekend as FLUX at the The National Army Museum which will be exhibiting the remaining paintings in my Ravel collection - all of which have now been framed ready for the show.

YOSEMITE, ST IVES AND THE ANNUNCIATION!

In the middle of October I flew out to San Francisco to visit my entrepreneurial son!  It is an amazing city with amazing prices and I didn’t stay long enough to do more than a few small studies.  Yosemite National Park was a different matter.  We took an RV and camped just outside so we could drive in each day.  Spectacular scenery as you would expect, made all the more glorious by the Autumn colours.  What sticks with me?  The miles of burnt tree stumps from previous forest fires, the pink of the soil turning to purple in the distance and the bright bright yellow of the maples.

When I get back to my studio instead of taking out photographs I simply look at the sketches to take myself back to that place.  I am working on large canvasses with a bright yellow colour palette, muted with inks and spray paint. 

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The first of my Yosemite paintings is now with Cadogan Contemporary in London.  I shall be continuing the series alongside my St Ives collection.  St Ives is a little closer to home than California and I visit regularly to recapture in my mind those extraordinary North Cornwall colours.  My largest St Ives canvas is now back in the studio..just about fitting on the back wall!  There is another underway....

  THE ANNUNCIATION   I am delighted that my Annunciation Series has sold and will be going to the perfect home.  This was a project very close to my heart, which challenged me in a completely unique way and which I shall almost certainly never repeat. 

 THE ANNUNCIATION

I am delighted that my Annunciation Series has sold and will be going to the perfect home.  This was a project very close to my heart, which challenged me in a completely unique way and which I shall almost certainly never repeat. 

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ONLINE STORE

Sadly I cannot just paint, I have to try and pay the studio rent as well, so this week I have spent a couple of days designing an online shop as part of my website.  I shall be regularly updating this - adding paintings and prints that have come back from exhibition or been sitting around for too long.  Some of them are new, some of them are paintings from another time - particularly my pixel paintings which kickstarted my career when I qualified from art college.  It is an exciting time!

RAVEL, ST IVES AND SKETCHING...

It has been a busy few weeks.  I took it upon myself to redesign my website making it more streamlined and less cluttered...and of course it took much longer than I had intended.  Anyway, here it is finally.  I shall use my blog to keep people up to date and actually I find writing a blog a very good way of reminding myself what I am up to! 

Going going gone!

A NEW CONTEMPORARY ART COLLECTION..

Ravel Studies at The Other Art Fair in Bristol in July

Ravel Studies at The Other Art Fair in Bristol in July

I am delighted that 3 of my Ravel paintings, seen here at The Other Art Fair in Bristol in July, have sold to one of London’s best known hotels.  It is all top secret at the moment but suffice to say they are in a very high profile space and will be featuring in the launch this Autumn.  There are still paintings left in this collection.  I have left them unframed and polished the sides with beeswax because the bespoke birch panels were just too beautiful to frame.

Since exhibiting at the Minster Gallery in Winchester I have started a new collection of paintings inspired by the extraordinary town of St Ives in Cornwall.  Although I have holidayed for many years in the West Country I have never made it as far as St Ives.  This year I did.  It was in January and I was blown away by the light and the colours.  So, in a hurry to get started, I painted over a series of paintings which I completed a few years ago.  With the Ravel works so fresh in my mind it was only natural that the mark making has carried over into the larger St Ives works.

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St Ives.  Ravel.  Oil on canvas, 160 x 110cm

Another advantage of redoing my website is I have had to rethink and rewrite my artist statement - an essential I am afraid when it comes to submitting work for open exhibitions or national prizes.  It is also a good discipline for me to sit down and work out exactly what I am about.  I try to keep it as short as possible, and you can read it in the ‘about’ section of this website.

Re-inventing myself with this website has also encouraged me to get out there and try new ways of working.  In September I did a 3 day landscape masterclass in the South Downs.  The emphasis was very much on sketching rather than photographing.  Absorbing the landscape and then carrying just one or two big ideas into the studio.   Putting aside any visual references, mixing a colour palette and simply allowing the painting process to guide you.

From left top - digital sketch and oil on paper - South Downs

From left top - digital sketch and oil on paper - South Downs

I am carrying that idea with me now wherever I go, together with a sketchbook, inks and graphite.

the footpath to Greve de L’Ecq.  Jersey

the footpath to Greve de L’Ecq.  Jersey

And finally...as part of all this rethinking I have reorganised my studio so that I can breathe again whilst I am working.  All the old paint tubes have gone and I have moved things around so that there is more white space and a working easel that I can see from a distance.  Bring on the Autumn!

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My Winchester Studio - open most mornings and by appointment