Friday, 28 February 2014

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.

Energy & Atmosphere

Preparation for the first exhibition of the year is now complete.  The last few pieces went into the frames this week.  I'm interested to see how they will hang together in the gallery space.  My colour palette has changed again due, I think, to the recent intense phase of cloudy and wet weather.  Perhaps there are rather more subdued tones than usual!  However, a preliminary glance at the collection in the studio suggests that there is a richness to the overall colours, and that they work together as a set.

I enjoyed a break into realism this time too, with a painting of a Millie on a morning walk.  In it I included a reference to the skylarks that have been so prevalent of late.  It was a pleasure to portray the surrounding countryside more directly in my work and made me feel as though I would like to do more.  It was very loosely rendered and incorporated some of the techniques and lessons learned from my abstraction.  I find that my walks around the village provide plenty of inspiration.

Something else that's been inspiring me this month is the sea.  Having lived in the centre of the country for over 30 years, it's a pleasure to be closer to the coast again.  Although more than an hour away, it's still near enough to spend half a day there with ease.  I've enjoyed walking along the beach with Millie at Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, and seeing the rough energy of the water as well as its serenity.  I've also discovered large, grassy areas on the cliff tops, where Millie can run.  It's one of the happiest things in my life - to see my young dog do what she was made to do - RUN!  I can sense the energy and excitement in her as I release her from the lead and watch her take off! She will begin by running vast circles at incredible speed.  Then she will suddenly turn on a sixpence and run straight towards me like a rocket, swerving at the last second to avoid crashing into me, and then reeling off to start another loop.  After a few minutes she will canter back, tongue lolling out, tired but so happy, ready now for another slower, exploratory walk.

This aspect of energy is an interesting one for me.  I certainly feel the effect of what is around me, and that frequently finds its way into my paintings whether, as this month, it's the increasing amount of birdsong on bright mornings, or the raw power of the sea.  I also find that it affects my choice of music while I'm working.  I often repeat the same couple of albums frequently throughout the course of making a series of paintings. There is something unquantifiable in them which sums up the mood and links them together.  The nine new paintings produced for this show were all made while listening to the Icelandic singer Asgeir*, alternated with Handel oratorios** and opera***, interspersed with the wonderful randomness of Radio 4, where I find plenty of comedy to make me laugh.

After a few days break, during which I'll clean the studio and un-pack and organise the rest of the stuff from the house move, I'll start all over again on a different series, for a new exhibition, with a new atmosphere and soundtrack no doubt!

* Ásgeir - In The Silence
**George Frideric Handel - Your Tuneful Voice (Iestyn Davies), The King's Consort/Robert King
***George Frideric Handel - Giulio Cesare, Glyndbourne, Sarah Connolly, Danielle De Niese

All text & images ©2014 Carol Saunderson

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.

The Skylarks

The first month of the year has passed in our new home.  It's been a month of wind and rain, but we consider ourselves lucky when we see the flooding in other areas of the country.  Between the gusts and the showers, I have done a lot of walking with our dog, Millie, along the muddy footpaths, looking out across the wide open landscape and rolling distance.  For someone originally from the flattest of lands, this position in the gentle Suffolk landscape feels like the top of the world.  I feel as if I'm living in the clouds!  I love it.  Perhaps that's why I have been so interested in the wild birds that I'm seeing, and why they are weaving their way more and more into my work.  I feel as if I'm seeing the land partly from a bird's perspective.

A couple of weeks ago we were walking at a particularly high point, on a day when the sky was unusually clear, when we disturbed five skylarks.  Up and up they went.  I stood and watched them - powerhouses of song.  Such tiny dots in the vast blue space, but filling the air with sound. They looked like minute kites tethered in the wind.    I thought about Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending", and how cleverly he captured that upward movement and the voice of the bird, in his music.  I can see why he would be inspired by it.  It's quite emotional I think - a tiny creature, full of spirit and beauty.

It's funny really, I feel more aware of the sky here than I did as a child, living on an unbroken plane.  There, it seemed to bear down upon us, almost crushing us.  Here, I seem to have risen up to meet it.  This is ideal for me.  I find it peaceful - the perfect balance.  The mass of mountains is too frightening and the flatland too oppressive, but here there is a wonderful sense of lightness.  I think it is changing the compositions of my paintings and that will be a challenge.  That is, however, a good thing for me.  It will stretch my mind to work with different shapes and viewpoints, and make me look at things afresh.

All text & images ©2014 Carol Saunderson