Over the first few months of 2017 I began putting together a series of paintings based on my memories of growing up in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The collection of 10 paintings will be shown by Kunsthuis Gallery, Crayke, Yorkshire, as part of their exhibition "A Wash of Energy". The gallery says:
A WASH OF ENERGY EXHIBITION 25/08 – 29/10
Kunsthuis Gallery will showcase Watercolourists who we feel are pushing the boundaries of their discipline and creative practice. We want to celebrate excellence and originality within this medium. Kunsthuis Gallery have engaged in extensive research of artists who work within the medium of Watercolour and who, we believe, sit in line with our gallery’s ethos to be the Contemporary Abstract gallery of The North. http://kunsthuisgallery.com/events/
Post-industrial shadow and light.
This first piece recalls the shapes and colours of a 1960's landscape still affected by slag heaps, but showing in the distance, the light sunny forms of hillsides unaffected by the grime. Living in West Yorkshire allowed weekend visits to Holmfirth and onto the Pennine Moors, a landscape which I feel is my spiritual home.
My watercolour work is made with only a mental recollection of place and form. I may have sketched in situ, something I do enjoy, but in the studio a kind of distillation happens and the first layers of colour which go down seem to be made with no conscious sense of planned or realistic representation. No doubt I am laying down forms which most impressed upon me when in the place.
For example, here's how the first image (above) began....
The first washes
In the piece below, scratching the surface of the wet, 300gsm NOT watercolour paper introduced some interesting suggestions of the kind of wiry detritus and abandoned buildings sometimes encountered walking through hills which once supported mining and weaving.
School and Uni field trips took us to various sites to study the flora and fauna of the North York Moors. Scenes like the piece below: "Storm Approaching" are fixed in my mind. The feel of the air, colours and clear sense of space that standing so high on the tops brings. Not to mention the call of the Curlew....
Maybe the above pieces demonstrate that I often enjoy leaving layers of translucent pigment to dry before choosing the next colour, always looking out for those serendipitous shapes I hadn't planned and decide to leave. Sometimes I will work a drying edge of paint with water or a different wash, and watch to see how the capillary action affects the flow of paint over the surface. Granulation typical of certain pigments also adds to the composition. The final piece is always the result of choices made as I go along, simply on the basis of what I like.
I imagine that these examples from the Kunsthuis collection give a sense of quiet, so I'll include one last piece in which I feel I've achieved power and dynamism in the composition. Entitled "Water Falling", its one of several paintings inspired by a walk through the towering rocks and pounding falls of Ingleton Gorge. Its a large piece painted on a favourite paper of mine: Two Rivers paper Company's 700lb NOT - quite a beast to tame, but wonderful stuff.
Water Falling (2).