Can you tell us what events particularly inspired your new exhibition?
I draw on my life for inspiration, especially my two grown-up daughters who now have children of their own. I run a home and garden with my husband, look after my pets, (including chickens), go for walks, shop, watch TV, cook, read, and of course I paint. My subject matter and my life are so intertwined that they are one and the same. So, I get inspiration from all or any of these daily interactions, and when something significant happens like the birth of a grandchild or a wedding then these experiences get absorbed and processed visually, sometimes being incorporated into a painting.
“Wedding Day” is based around my eldest daughter getting married last year from her London home, she looked so stunning amongst a halo of flowers. Such a lovely subject to paint. On a less personal but very connected subject is “Spring Equinox” painted last spring when day and night lengths are equal. I wanted to symbolise spring by painting half the composition with a strong cadmium yellow then using dark violets and blue-reds to balance out and create contrast. A simple device but a strong brief to work with.
What is the significance of the exhibition’s title “Blue Moon”?
A deliciousness of whimsy! A mood, a feeling, a sense of mystery, female energy, infused saturated colour, an inner light, a pool of serenity … all the ingredients to help me play with paint and conjure up ideas that make me happy. There was so much media coverage last year concerning blue moons, red moons, super moons, eclipses and harvest moons that I just wanted to join in the celebrations.
In your repertoire, flower paintings feature constantly, are they from your garden?
Yes, I love painting flowers, and a few years ago, when my daughter had a wedding from home, we turned the vegetable plot into an herbaceous border, to brighten up the garden and provide flowers for the tables. The vegetables are now in the polytunnel (another one of my painted subjects), and over the years the flowers beds are looking more established and very enticing. I now have a constant source of subject matter. But in the winter I will still venture into the local florist and purchase some beauties like the “Chrysanthenums” in this show.
My favourite flowers were and still are dahlias and I buy new tubers every year to add to the crazy and heady mix that I have built up over the years. There is now every colour, shape and size you can imagine, all tumbling over each other and some reaching four foot in height, so you can imagine how starry eyed I get. It’s so exhausting painting a large arrangement of flowers like “Persian Flower Arrangement”, as there is a time-limit before flowers droop, petals drop, and stems rearrange themselves. I might have to spend 20 hours of solid observed painting on just the flowers themselves, so it can be draining. It feels like a real achievement when I have finally finished and bring them into the house for their next role which is to brighten up the home.
How and when do you paint?
My style is quite idiosyncratic and continues to develop. My priority has always been to put the physical attributes of the paint and the enhancement of colour first. Everything else comes second. This means that I can set out with a clear idea in mind and end up with a completely different composition as I have to follow the language of colour and form, and this happens in the dynamic of painting. Of course, composition and planning are essential and I think a lot about this and plan it down to the last detail, but I am often proven wrong and I have to humbly listen to what the paint is telling me to do next, and put my plans aside. This can make finishing a painting a long-term process, and sometimes means repainting an area over and over again before it’s resolved. Then sometimes a painting goes well from start to finish and it could be finished in a week and I might never have to work on it again, but this would be the exception rather than the rule.
I paint impasto with a palette knife, this produces a thick textural paint layer which in itself becomes another aspect to my finished piece, creating its own world of shadows and highlights. I paint from life and bring objects into my studio to paint, I collect and source visual information like textiles, pattern books etc and then everything else is from my imagination.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t create pictures and I have never had, or can imagine having, any other occupation. In the early days I had to be very strict with myself and do my eight hours a day, but now I cannot divorce painting from any other part of my life, it’s just one and the same to me.
Need to Know: “Blue Moon” is on at The Doorway Gallery, 24 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2 from May 2 – 30; www.thedoorwaygallery.com.
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