© Lazy days - Canal du Midi 70 x 70 oil on canvas
A friend came to see my Dorset Art Weeks open studio exhibition today and reminded me that I hadn’t written a blog for a very long time - the title for the last one ‘Pursuing the elusive’ seemingly had a double meaning! So let me set the record straight – whilst I may have been elusive I have certainly not been putting my feet up. Quite the contrary in fact as my studio has been the scene of a veritable hive of activity, with two galleries to supply here in England and this huge open Dorset studio event that I am currently part of which takes place every other year. (http://www.dorsetartweeks.co.uk)
I had to deliver work to the galleries in the Autumn, so throughout the Winter I needed to produce a lot of work for Dorset Art Weeks. However, I still managed to paint and ‘play', taking time to head off in the car with our new fold up bikes to ride along the Canal du Midi, or along the trails through the wetlands just behind the Mediterranean between Narbonne and the Spanish border. The days out helped to feed the imagination and a new series of paintings featuring the Canal have been the result.
These were prompted by the sad news that many of the grand old Plane trees that line the canal banks are likely to be felled as they are diseased with some new virus.
Painting water has been an interesting challenge for me. Following on from the tunnel theme that preceded this series – the water adds a different dimension to the theme, completing the sense of the tunnel through the reflections. I am still engrossed with the tunnel idea and plan to get back to it on our return to France. Happily, whilst it is a quintessentially English theme, it is one that I can adapt and expand no matter where I am painting. It works on more than one level for me and can be somewhat abstracted giving me a real opportunity to work in the ‘flow’.
I have talked about the problems of getting blocked in other blogs and I think one thing has been very clear through this period of intense production and that is the importance of 'play' time to keep my work fresh and provide me with new ideas. Whilst change of style or even change of medium - are perhaps the most obvious routes to a fresh approach, I have found that just taking time out to play, walk in a beautiful place, or simply head off to explore new countryside has provided me with the necessary creative momentum. That time off away from the studio relaxing and enjoying myself has been every bit as important for my painting as standing at the easel day after day. It is that very special 'thinking space', relieving the pressure, nurturing the spirit and providing the impetus to try something completely different.