We have interviewed Pendle Artists a few times now as they have an annual exhibition of their work. We have talked about why they are members of Pendle Artists and how it helps them, and we discussed where people worked last year. This year we are focussing on specific pieces and artists.
First up I cornered…
Trevor chooses a subject, like Venice – “Who doesn’t love Venice”, usually somewhere he has been although he doesn’t always paint en plein air and then changes a detail – this work is set in a period time. He likes to add a slant.
This particular work is only Watercolour, he does also use some oils but he says he is probably more noted for his watercolours and it suits his style. “I like the unpredictable” and this can’t always be replicated in oils.
During this work, Trevor used only one large brush (with a round point) and eight colours in the palette. Nothing more: no masking tape or fluids.
It doesn’t take Trevor very long to paint, he is quick and spontaneous – not a planner, he thinks taking too long can lead to things looking overworked, so his work is “all in one sitting”.
Inspired by travel, Trevor has just returned from a trip to Krakow and is going to create some new works based on this.
Love his work? Want to see more? First – come here and look at the painting close up and then Trevor is having an exhibition at the Art Deco Gallery in Whalley in May this year.
Next up I spoke to Donald Holden about his artwork… ‘Ivegate, Colne’.
Donald explained that he doesn’t choose the subject, the subject chooses him. Sometimes he can just turn a corner and see an image and then he paints it. In this case it was the light that attracted him.He works with a variety of mediums. He always starts with a drawing – same size, but on a different sheet of paper. He tends to begin quite randomly; in this work he poured ink onto the canvas and brushed it about and then added collage (mostly tissue paper) to change the texture of the surface. Then he used ink, watercolour and acrylic throughout the work. He uses “lots of stuff to get the image I wanted”. I said, I got the impression Donald was a maximalist.
Donald agreed, as he taught art for 35 years, he had to teach everything and was always seeing possibilities in others work and approaches. He’s still doing this with his own work.
He likes to play with the surface, the surface is more important than the subject. Donald explained “I’m not producing Colne, I’m producing a painting”.
We discussed how long Donald takes over a piece of work and it varies. He says sometimes everything happens really quickly and sometimes he has to put it to one side and let it sneak up on him!
Next I spoke to Janet Grierson, whose work is called ‘Longiflorum Lily in Bud’.
When looking at the subject, Janet explained she likes to paint from reality and is not a particular fan of working from photographs, so she puts together still life arrangements at home. She is space limited so has been looking at simple, natural flower arrangements which she sets up on her grandmothers old set of tables. At the moment she is interested in shadows so is setting up these arrangements to show a clear background which can capture shadows.
Janet works in acrylic, as she happened to already have the canvasses and the paint and likes the fact it dries quickly. She particularly likes the rough texture of stretched canvas and tends to work with several mainly flat brushes. She doesn’t really have any particular products she loves, but always uses artist quality paints and decent brushes.
Janet loves monochrome, when I asked about why black and white she said “I struggle more with colour!”
We discussed technique a little as Janet is attending workshops on how to build up layers of acrylic paint but sometimes she says she gets lost in the middle and just does it!
Her aim is to paint everyday, but as a busy lady, sometimes she has to put a block of time aside to paint. This work took around two weeks from start to finish. The lilies were in flower by the time to picture was completed.
We had a little bit of a coffee break then! Thirsty work all this talking… Here are a few set up pictures....
My next interviewee was Colin Morgan and here is his work, a moorland scene called ‘Yorkshire Moors’.
The subject was a made up picture inspired by taking many walks in the Northern landscape. Colin is originally from Bristol but has lived up North for 35 years now and really loves the moors.
This particular work is an oil painted but it has been painted into wet varnish, which is his own technique. He does a simple coloured underpainting and then covers the whole work in varnish and then he has two hours to work in. He feels this makes his paintings better as he has to work fast. He uses lots of different brushes and then flicks turps in to reveal the picture underneath and uses sticks to scrape away then.
It’s an interesting approach. I like the idea of setting a timer and seeing what can be done in 2 hours! Colin says “I like the adrenaline rush of working into wet varnish because of the speed, it works particularly well for me as the longer I take on a painting, the deader it seems to look!”
Next I spoke to Susan Byrne, who is an exhibitor and also the secretary of Pendle Artists, so she does all of the organising and we email each other quite a bit in the run up to the exhibition. She’s a pretty busy lady during hanging too, so it was lovely of her to spare a little time to talk to me.
Susan exhibits ceramic and textile works but we discussed one of her works called ‘View from the ridge’.
Susan chose this work as she is into sheep at the moment (what I lovely phrase to write!) and has been for a few years. She’s getting into pigs too but that’s only really with her ceramics. (What a lovely whole paragraph actually!).
Susan likes the colours, she enjoys shapes and colours and her work is quite bright.
The work is a background of acrylic felt, which she then needles onto it with wool fleece that has been dyed. Sometimes she dyes the fleece herself using commercially available dyes and sometimes she buys it ready coloured. Then she draws the image with a sewing machine using free embroidery techniques and then hand embroiders the image to finish the work.I asked if Susan had any favourite products and she really likes working with hand spun wool threads. So does spin some herself. She said “I like how uneven they, specially mine” and that makes them more interesting to work with.
It’s quite a long process to create work this way and Susan says if she was working on a piece full time it would probably take around a week.
Last but not least I spoke to Sue Triggs who makes ceramics. We talked through the process of making a Seal Pup from start to finish. I chose to ask her about this pup as just look at his eyes! He got to me, sob!
When choosing what to make Sue often thinks of cuteness (she succeeded – see above) and always tries to think of something that will appeal to people. She does think commercially from the point of sales but also so that she doesn’t end up with a massive backlog of work in her studio that no one sees.
So Sue starts with some clay, potters wheel clay which can be thrown or sculpted and takes a lump and usually sculpts the body first and then the head. She puts the two together and lets it dry until it reaches ‘leather-hard’ and then she adds in details. She likes to use a nail file for this, but has many tools. She makes sure she adds an air hole and then once it is properly dry it goes into the kiln.
The first one is called a bisque firing and the kiln needs to get to 1000 degrees. Sue has just got her first kiln of her own (she used to use a friends) and this took about 12 hours to get hot enough. Then the work needs to sit in the kiln for another 12 hours to cool down enough that you can take them out.Once the piece has survived the kiln with no breaks or cracks, Sue adds a glaze and then the work goes back into the kiln for glaze firing which needs to go even hotter and reach 1250 degrees.
She then has to sandpaper it’s bottom to make sure it can sit steady, and not rock or wobble and then the last part is to paint the eyes. You can glaze them but sometimes the glaze runs in the kiln and it’s mascara run type look which isn’t great. So Sue uses Humbold paint.
It’s a fairly complicated process and each piece takes at least a week from start to finish. Sue says “There is a lot to do, but it’s fascinating”.And, that’s all folks. Do come and see the work if you can. Entry is free. I'll post some more pictures of the whole exhibition soon.