Wednesday, 18 June 2014

New Paintings for Aldeburgh

Just delivered a big consignment of paintings for Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh today, which always gives me a great sense of relief.  They are off in a van down to Suffolk, to be photographed for the catalogues and publicity for my August show with Scottish artist Stephanie Rew.  

As Stephanie is a very precise, figurative artist, I took the opportunity to explore some more expressively semi-abstract work in order to form a complete contrast in the exhibition.  I based the work around the Aldeburgh area, and the coast up at Walberswick.

The show has been two years in the making, and each painting is the result of a mass of on-the-spot observation and photography, textural studies and mixed media explorations of my theme.  

This picture, for example, started as a huge monoprint, with additional embellishment in pastel and watercolour.  It shows a view towards the mouth of the River Blyth at Walberswick, which, because of the muddy banks,  has wooden landing stages built out into the river for the boats to tie up at.

Landing Stages, Walberswick (Mixed Media, 28 x 40)

Here's the same scene, but in a different medium - oil.  It's a very expressive and textural painting, informed by the monoprint.  In it, I allowed paint thinned by turps to forms patterns on the surface, and incorporated tissue paper into the surface for texture.

Landing Stages, Walberswick (Oil and Mixed Media, 22 x 40)

I spend long hours on the shore at Aldeburgh and Walberswick, taking photos of the waves.  I get quite obsessed about finding the 'perfect' wave, and looking very carefully at the North Sea colours as the water curls over, catching the light and the reflections of the pebbles, and watching how the waves act as they break on the beach.  

 The Beach at Aldeburgh Looking Towards Thorpeness - (c) Stephen Nunney

There is a very low tidal range at Aldeburgh.  The beach, covered in pebbles, stretches out long into the distance on either side, the horizon has the occasional tanker or yacht, and the sky is huge.  The gulls are crying overhead, and this is the beach where a production of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes was staged, so all that is in my mind as well.

Each painting may look abstract, but it is a record of a precise observed moment.

Dark Wave, the Sea at Aldeburgh (Oil on linen, 32 x 32)

The next one is a particular favourite.  I love the zingy punch of pink and orange colour at the bottom right.

Pale Horizon, the Sea at Aldeburgh (Oil on linen, 32 x 32)

A large painting like this gives the chance to explore the characteristically long, flat landscape of Suffolk coast.

 Bright Day, North Sea (Oil on linen, 32 x 48)

I wanted to something more gentle in this painting.  When I'm in Aldeburgh to do the initial work for the show, I get up at dawn to take photos of the early morning, when the colours change and there is a very special light over the sea.  Again, at sunset, there is a lovely glow to the sky which reflects onto the waves.

Sunset Clouds over the Sea, Aldeburgh (Oil on linen, 16 x 40)

It's not all seascapes, though.  To balance the show, there will be plenty of my landscapes, from the Peak District and Lake District, up to the Scottish West Coast and Skye too.

It looks like it's going to be a really exciting show, and I'm really looking forward to it.  It's been two years in the making, so it will great to see it finally hung on the walls.

The show opens with a preview on Saturday 9th August, from 11am-4pm.  I'm going to be there, so if you can come along, please do!  All welcome.

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