N. Ireland Diary pt2

I’m back in Belfast sorting out my father’s house, which has now been sold. Looking through my photos, I realise the diary goes back a couple of years to when he first began having hospital admissions, and not just since his death in February.

Antrim from Black Mountain

I suppose a death, for a time after, seems like a junction at which things both end and begin, and in this case the beginning of a series painted on road trips across the province as a panacea for grief. But with hindsight the shock of the moment creates this sense of a break from the past.

I got used to flying from Liverpool to Belfast to look after dad for periods since 2018 but especially the past two years. It was hard to resist photographing the aerial views and this has become an ongoing theme that I’m still developing. Above are examples added to the diary page in the Gallery section.

Having left Belfast in 1977, I found myself forced to reevaluate my feelings about a place I’d felt unhappy in due to troubles both personal and political.

Perhaps I’ll write more about this in due course, but for now I’m back on the road with the gift of dad’s car, experiencing my country of birth at ground level.

Look what landed in the post…

Feeling very excited about this book test print, the seed of an idea at the moment. I have lots of work under various themes in sketch books which I thought would be interesting to put together, and several print options to explore.

Themes include: Burton Marshes, Northern Ireland Diary and a ‘warts-and-all’ sketch book with notes.

Let me know in the comments if it’s something you’d be interested in.

Postcards: special offer

I’ve added six postcard designs to a new Shop page. They are £1 each (min. online order is £4, no lower limit if collecting).

SOLD OUT OFFER: 20 sets of all 6 for £5.50 incl UK postage. If you’d like one, please send me a message janinepinion.com/contact

You’ll see that there are also prints available to buy directly. Enquiries welcome.

Wirral Open Studios Tour 2022

The tour returns to its pre-pandemic June slot this year, Sat 11th to Sun 12th 10am-5pm. You can download a free catalogue at https://wirralarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/WOST-2022-Tour-Guide.pdf or, if you’re local, from venues in the borough. If you can’t locate one, I’ve left some in a waterproof box under the bench by the front door, so do help yourself.

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Painting Stories 1: ‘Settlement’

‘Settlement’ watercolour on 300CP 19x28cm 2021

There is little contrast in the sky at this time of year. Clouds are often heavy with vapour, reflecting cool and warm tones depending on how they layer, or thin and let some sunshine through. Rarely the sunshine reaches us but nevertheless I find the skies’ soft pastels fascinating in November through to February. I like the challenge of remembering and creating the feeling those skies give me, of gradually, peacefully settling into the darker time of year.

There are technical issues to manage – allowing the colours to blend evenly means that the paper has to remain equally damp, but not too wet. It has to dry evenly too so preparation is essential and also I have to say somewhat satisfying. Brushwork is vigorous and the balance of pigment to water carefully judged. Too much water and the result will be patchy; too little pigment and will lose depth and tonal range.

The title came from sitting with the finished piece and reflecting on the elements in it. Often I try to express something of the deeper stories that emerge by describing the elements in relation to one another. But on this occasion, one word came to me: settlement. Settlement describes the sense of winding down, of compacting and layering like a soft blanket, but also the suggestion of humans inhabiting the landscape, of making a home there. In this space they are actively engaging in their surroundings, altering them and perhaps, one hopes, respecting the place they’ve come to inhabit. It raises the question as to how we settle on our land and what our responsibility is towards the existing, other living organisms with whom we share our space.

In this painting there’s the suggestion of the settlements along the North Wales coast on Deeside from Flint to where the coast turns sharply west at the Point of Ayr and vanishes from our sight here in Burton Marshes, Wirral. It’s not clear what they are, but in daylight there are many — industrial, farmland, open common, residential and protected natural areas. The scene reminds me of returning at dusk to my starting point after a long walk in the hills, gradually descending to meet the brightening lights of the settlement where I’ve begun. There’s nostalgia in remembering, and yet questions in the present.

Open Studio Sat 20 Nov 21 10-4

If you missed us in September’s Wirral Open Studio Tour, Marcus Leon Drummond and I are opening again on Saturday 20 November 10am-4pm and look forward to seeing you. As Yule approaches, I’ll be offering plenty of watercolours at studio clearance prices and Marcus will have his finely made furniture and smaller wood items for sale too. Accessible entrance available, washroom and kitchen bar providing drinks hot and cold.

3 Zig Zag Rd, New Brighton, Wirral CH45 7NY (map below)

Observing

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I love experimenting with watercolour as there are so many variables – type of pigment, wet or dry surface, granulation and transparency, degree of drying-ness of the painting in progress, brushes, tools and masking. Many of my sketches and experiments focus on playing with any of these, but recently I’ve been drawn to observational work. Continue reading