Welcome to the neighbourhood! - What it's like to move from the city to the country for an artist
Updated: Jun 12, 2018
So here we are, my first blog post! So it seems fitting to write about the forthcoming Bishop's Hull Summer Party, which will also be a first; an introduction of my work to the local neighbourhood!
I've been living in Bishop's Hull, Taunton for just over 6 months now, and I had no idea that moving from Bristol to here would impact upon my creativity in the way that it has. When I moved I was looking forward to no longer living on a busy street and the relentless traffic noise that I used to put up with. However along with the peace and quiet has also come space, birdsong, and hills!
It took a while for these to percolate through and find themselves at the end of my paintbrush, but it felt as if Spring opened up my eyes to how all this natural beauty could be a source of inspiration for my art. I imagine it sounds like stating the obvious; I mean, to move from the city to the countryside, of course you're going to want to start painting some trees! - but I suppose to begin with I was worried about expectation, which is an ongoing issue with me!
What do I mean by this? In short, I am referring to expectations I put on myself, and the perceived expectations of others (most likely to be an illusion!). I have been fortunate enough to have had opportunity to exhibit my work, and my linocuts of racing cyclists have proved most popular in the last few years. I have been obsessed with movement, dynamism, and bold shapes...and all this has come from urban living. Even when I designed prints of cyclists racing through the countryside (as with my print 'Breeze') I feel the design is very much from a Londoner's viewpoint - seeing trees and ploughed fields almost as if they are a direct parallel to the tower blocks of an urban landscape.
I suppose when I stopped to think about my art (when I first moved here) I came to the conclusion that my work just wasn't about nature, and that I had no interest in making pictures about trees, because I didn't know how to in an interesting way. Then the weather got nice and I just couldn't resist! I took a little gesso panel out on to the Quantocks with a sack full of oil paints and wanted to see what I could do with a view that I had admired on my very first visit to Taunton.
Painting en Plein Air has become an unexpected passion for me. The best thing about it is that it stops me over thinking about what I do. I've formulated a routine which works for me; I have a canvas bag full of my favourite oil paints, a palette, a handful of brushes and some solvent. I go up on to my favourite hill, I sit on the ground and paint with the board on my lap. This negates any need for heavy easels or chairs. I've finally learned that you don't need to struggle with outdoor painting, and to make it as easy as possible will no doubt result in a more enjoyable experience, which in turn results in a better painting.
It's a great relief to find that the more I paint out of doors the more I find a way of approaching my painting and drawing that doesn't feel entirely out of my comfort zone, and I'm starting to recognise my creative identity within the work. Making pictures hasn't become formulaic yet, there's just enough challenge, and each time I've gone out there I've discovered a new way of putting on the paint, or a way of mixing the colours, that feels really exciting. I've no doubt I'll hit stumbling blocks in time, but at present, I'm finding my painting hugely stimulating and enjoyable.
Hope to see you at the Bishop's Hull Summer Party, 16th June 2018 at Milligan. It's on 12-4pm, and I will be showing some of these paintings.