'There's a story behind every picture' is the overall theme in most of my work. Stories are important. A strong storyline which I've chosen this year is GENERATIONS OF CHANGE; not just the three large canvases which are grouped under that heading (and were inspired by Matt Armour's song of the same name) but the capturing of moments in changing landscapes and local life.
The paintings around the East Neuk of Fife were inspired by communities which evolve - successfully - to new circumstances and challenges, though the old way of life still shows up ('Droothy Neebours', for example).
The Orkney paintings are a tribute to a history so ancient we can hardly comprehend it, and yet it is part of the fabric of modern Orkney life.
And the Canadian paintings show in part a landscape that has dominated humans, but is now showing a relentless alteration through climate change, and its potential for danger.
You may see more and different stories in the work - I hope you do.
11 July 2019
How did I get here? I had to ask myself....
Starting to Paint
The artist who emerges from Art School has the inestimable benefit of those precious years of learning techniques and ways of thinking, of experimenting and discussing, of trial and error to use as building blocks for a developing professional career. There are also many – like me – who want to create art works, but have earned a living another way and so have used spare time for their art.
There’s great encouragement now to be creative. We are lucky. So picking up a brush, squeezing paints on to a palette and giving it a go is the start. When I had time to follow that long-held ambition to take art more seriously, there were other considerations too.
You have to practice, you have to learn. You have to try new ways to produce your work, and new ways to think about it. And it’s really hard to do this on your own, even with the array of excellent ‘How To’ books and magazines on the market. For me, evening classes, once I’d found an excellent tutor, were valuable for teasing out the problems with work. Masterclasses and summer schools taught me the techniques in practical detail and, as I paint in oils, the chemistry of paint. Handling materials with skill and taming them to give you what you want to see on the canvas is the all-important beginning. It takes time.
It’s possible that may be the resting place and you can interpret what you see with great satisfaction. It was the next step which brought me most satisfaction. It was the discussion, the critique, the ‘Why?’ and ‘What?’ which made sense of it.
The Art Class
It’s a bit of a cliché, really. A class for those fortunate enough to have the time to paint and money for materials. Lots of ladies, like book groups perhaps. But actually I found all my many and varied courses were attended by both sexes, and the evening and weekend ones had young and old together, who talked and looked at each other’s work and learned.
What was so useful, once the basic skill of making recognisable marks on paper board or canvas had been honed, was to realise that your mind was the viewfinder, not your camera, or even just your eyes. Your own selecting and highlighting made the image important. It was on a course at Edinburgh University’s College of Art that I had to articulate what my vision and purpose for my own work was. And I floundered for a while. Talking it through I realised that I was telling a story, sometimes a song, narrating through art, and it was a light-bulb moment.