Five of the nine watercolours I’m currently showing at Blue Moon Framing & Gallery 182 Telegraph Road Heswall Wirral CH60 0AJ – Blue Moon, managed by owner Sue Webster, also sells cards, prints, sculpture and jewellery as well as being a popular framing hub. http://www.bluemoonframingandgallery.com/home/4578835022
Preview: Friday 10th July 5-8pm Exhibition: until Sunday 2nd August at 5pm. Sketch Crawl: Saturday 11th July from 11.30am – Lark Lane Art Works, Liverpool L17 Further Details
I’ve been out with Liverpool Urban Sketchers since the start of the year. I have to say that drawing buildings was akin to sticking my head in a vat of boiling oil, but, like trees and water, I knew that pushing against my limits is always rewarding in the end.
Liverpool Urban Sketchers is part of an international movement which began in Seattle in 2007. Their motto is “See the World, One Drawing at a Time” and all work is done on location rather than from photographs. http://www.urbansketchers.org
It is great fun meeting up with others – 10am on the first Saturday of the month at a different location each time – and then sharing our work over lunch. I was quite shy about drawing in public spaces but knowing other artists are around makes it so much easier. Artists come from all backgrounds and disciplines. Some are experienced, others are not, and I have learned a great deal.
Friday 10 Apr 2015 to Sunday 10 May 2015. The painting above is called ‘Marine Life’ and is a mix of watercolour, acrylic and emulsion prints. For a while I have been thinking about the totality of my experiences when out walking, so that a single scene is insufficient to say much about a whole walk, although brilliant for drilling down into an experience. In this case, I’m bringing together a number of facets of walking around Wirral. It’s an experiment and one which terrified the life out of me, since I decided to created it during the week before handing in for the show. It could have gone horribly wrong, but it sold.
I’m aiming to refresh the display of my work that Alex Corina has kindly been showing at his gallery, Lark Lane Art Works. It’s a lovely space in a busy bohemian street, out of the city centre but in popular L17 close to Sefton Park. Here’s a taster of what’s to come.
It’s happened again tonight, a delicious madness that ends in tears which merge, often literally, with the paint itself. I find myself on the other side of the room from my easel, not really sure how I got there, heart racing, gulping air and crying out. It sounds painful and in some ways it is, but it’s become a regular and welcome experience in my new work about the sea.
I suppose it could be like drowning, raw and visceral. I think painting the sea means touching the power of it and the cycles of tides and living species submerged in it through a process of examining what it looks and sounds and smells like, what it means, the stories it carries, the stories I carry, and so on.
Then there’s the technical stuff I really love – a flick of masking fluid here, some broad welts of squid-ink there, a fat hogshair brush or a sword-cut sable. I feel like a surgeon under my spotlight, selecting a series of precision tools. I’m slicing in, not knowing what I’ll find, checking I’ve got all the right settings, checking all the records I’ve gathered which culminate in this operation. I’ve painted this wave before but it’s not the wave I’m painting – I’m searching for something in the experience of this bow-wave; it’s not what I set out to do but it’s how I discover whatever it was that subconsciously drew my attention.
The paint runs and merges. I have a new brush, a filbert with whiskers which tickle the thick paper and send little snake tongues of acid yellow into a blend of phthalocyanine, alizarin and paynes grey. Across the lacy swirls of masking fluid it settles into small muddy dots on the surface and with a slap of lamp black the underside of the wave makes its presence known.
At once the feeling is of both power and vulnerability. The lacy spray of seawater/paint catches me unawares and I’m at the mercy of both the sea and the art itself. Against all the complexities of managing daily life this feels elemental and necessary!
I’m very lucky to have achieved my childhood dream of living by the sea and later resolving my adult dilemma of city or rural home. The area I live in has a curious maritime history of pirates and sea-shanties, a run of blossom-sweet cottages and its own castle walls where the Liscard Battery once was. Across the bay, a Manhattan-like view of Liverpool’s world famous waterfront is majestic by day as the ships dock and leave, and magical in the evening as the sun goes down and city lights begin to shine instead.
There’s that moment when the sky is a deep warm blue and the electric lights warmly amber that I find very appealing. Added to the view is the Mersey and sandbanks visited by hungry seabirds. As the tide goes out it is very pleasing to hear the sounds of water and birds and human life and look at the colours and shapes of pools left behind.
In the summer I ride out to Leasowe Bay where the sand is firm enough for me to enjoy a cycle along the water’s edge and if it’s warm enough, a swim. I’ve recently learned some digital photography skills and have recorded the patterns of the coast – waves, sandbanks and light, particularly lovely in the evening.
With all this at hand, there’s the risk of making art that is clichéd or that I can’t explore. I like a challenge; I like not being sure how I’m going to approach a subject or what is has to say to me.
One day I took a trip on Tuskar with Liverpool Bay Marine Life Trust. We sailed our way out and through the wind turbines, across to Hilbre Island and back. I felt raw and energised scooting through the swell and as we returned past New Brighton and turned into the estuary, I became mesmerised by the bow wave – the swell made as Tuskar sped through the tide – and the gash in it made by the boat’s hull. Clean jewel blues, blacks and greens offset by the white and creamy crusts of the wave top appeared in around forty pictures I took that day.
I began sketching and drawing in pencil and pen, producing several images and then developing works in watercolour and inks. As I painted, the painstaking detail of the distant town became a distraction and I ended up obscuring it with a dark pour of Phthalo, Veridian, Umber and Black mopped in places and spattered in others as I relived the excitement of the sail.
Heswall’s annual festival fortnight includes a substantial arts trail, including Two Rivers in Heswall Library Gallery. Here’s the link: http://www.heswallfestival.com/index.php/other-events/art-trail-2014
I’ll be showing half a dozen or so paintings as part of the group. All welcome.
These watercolours came from a series of photographs I took on a visit to Thurstaston beach last summer. I merged the photos into a curved, wide horizon. The view across the Dee estuary is of Flintshire and the Point of Ayr. Much of the estuary has become salt marsh, but at Thurstaston the tide still ebbs and flows. Early paintings were studies, but in later versions I felt able to be more expressive, sometimes using white wax crayon as an under-drawing.
Liking Ivon Hitchin’s landscapes a lot at the moment.