Posted on 10 Comments

Echo Of Small Things

Painting of Donegal House

The title of this post comes from a 2005 album by American musician, Robert Rich.  

The inspiration for this album comes from mundane everyday experiences that culture usually overlooks, such as footsteps, casual voices and other ordinary sounds. Although I am sort of  “New Wave” (that’s sooo old now, you’ll probably have to look it up) in my musical tastes, I have a sneaky liking for experimental music, if its “live”. I like how it encourages you to pay attention to all the sounds around you, instead of tuning them out with your thoughts. Its sort of mediative. The ordinary appeals to me.

The other day I finished one of my paintings, placed on the other side of my studio to inspect and found myself quite-spell bound by it. I could not stop starring at it. This is not always the way I am with my finished work. More often when I have been excited about a painting, finishing it is a bit of an anti-climax. Maybe, it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be. All I can see are the errors. The solutions that weren’t quite right, or not as good as they could have been.

So what was this painting that had me transfixed? You’ll probably laugh when you see it. It was a little painting of two blue tits on a branch. Not a spectacular painting, in any sense, I know. I realised, however, that what had me transfixed were the details. This is really geeky stuff. A shadow under one of the bluetits fell onto the branch below in a really pleasing way. It’s hard to show it here.

Two Blue Tits
Two Blue Tits (detail)
Painting of Two Bluetits
Two Bluetits

This is my most recent painting below. I choose to paint this because I liked the juxtaposition of the mountain behind the semi-derelict house.

Painting of Donegal cottage with Mount Errigal
Near Dunmore Strand

I didn’t realise at first that the gable end window is boarded up. It could be mistaken for a blind. Maybe it is a roller-blind pulled down.

Near Dunmore Strand - detail
Detail (work in progress)

I think the back door is also boarded up. These things are not immediately apparent. There is a large boulder to the left of the house. There is also a pile of building bricks and a tarpaulin in the yard to the right-hand side and old rope in the drive. This is a house at the start or midway through renovations. The details I really relished painting were the shadows of the chimney, roof and the telegraph wire that dissects the window at neat diagonal. It’s only by paying attention to these details that the Donegal light can be properly conveyed.

I have always had a fascination for the ordinary details that are easily overlooked. I want to convey what a scene looked like at that moment. If you were really paying attention. Yet, I am not a painter who works in the hyper-realist style. I am not skillful or patient enough for that. I often cringe when I see my paintings close up because I think some of my brushwork is crude. Yet, “perfect” representation can seem dead and unlife-like.

I  think in the errors, the gaps, our brains fill in the gaps the image can come alive. I like that my paintings aren’t just copies of what I can see but an interpretation; the colours brightened, edges sharpened or softened, some details omitted to make for a simpler composition. Deciding what to leave out or simplify is as important as what you decide to include. Rather like Robert Rich’s “Echo of Small things”

 

Posted on 4 Comments

English Corner

English Corner
English Corner

I love Victorian tin chapels. Maybe it’s because a playgroup I went to as a child in Hereford was held in one. I think that one was painted dark green. It was near the racecourse.

This tin building is at the crest of the hill, on Rhyddings Park Road. The corrugated iron is painted cream. It is jammed in by the side of the much larger and grander Argyle and Rhyddings Park Presbyterian Church.

The tin chapel is a friendly and welcoming building. The painted blue door always seems to be open. Playgroups meet here. I often see people with small infants coming and going.

There is a banner hanging above the door advertising “English Corner” for visitors to come and practice their English. This Welsh church has clearly gone out of their way to welcome international students and immigrants. I knew nothing about this community until I looked at their website and discovered that the church has been led by two energetic and thoughtful overseas mission workers, Charles and Molly Chua ,from Singapore for the past 11 years.

English Corner was set up by Charles and Molly after they found two lost Chinese students wondering the streets of Swansea. Charles and Molly took the two students to a Chinese shop and then drove them home. Over a cup of tea, the students pleaded: ‘we need someone to help us with our English!’ So they did something. The church set up weekly English classes on Friday evenings, and “English Corner’ grew rapidly, from 9 to 29 Chinese students in 3 weeks. Now 50-60 students regularly attend. It has since grown to become an international community linked with the Universities and Language Schools in Swansea. This proactive and positive work has had many benefits for the local community, students and new residents as well for the church which has a diverse congregation of Welsh and Chinese, Asians, Europeans and Africans worshipers.

So this unassuming little tin building holds a strong and vibrant community.  I like that.

Find out more about Argyle and Rhyddlings Park Church

 

 

 

 

Posted on 10 Comments

Getting Ready for my Summer Exhibition

IMG_8643[1]
Paintings ready for my art exhibition
I have a confession to make. The person who does most of the “getting ready” is not me – it’s my husband, Seamas. Yes, I paint the pictures, make sure all the edges are tidied up and my initials are on each painting but he does the fiddly stuff I hate. But he’s the one who helps me decide which paintings to have in the exhibition, he goes to buy the “D” ring hooks from the DIY shop round the corner, when we run out. Or yes, and another 4 balls of string. Then, he patiently sits down and measures the spacing at the back of the paintings, screws in the “D” hooks and then has to arrange the string so that 1) the painting won’t fall off the wall 2) it doesn’t hang too high or too long down from the brass hooks they have in the venue. He also went to the venue to double check how many spaces for paintings there are too. He’ll also help with the hanging on Monday afternoon and delivering the flyers to the local business and homes.

So if you are in Swansea in August please call by and have a cup of coffee in the Brynmill Coffee House – its opposite the entrances of Singleton and Brynmill Park and 5 minutes’ walk from the seafront. The Staff are super nice and the cake is delicious and they have gluten-free versions too. You can enter the draw for a limited edition signed print of “Outside Brynmill Coffee House“. There will be limited edition prints and greeting cards available to buy too. My paintings are a selection of scenes and people of Brynmill as well as some Gower landscapes. Photographs of the paintings in situ will follow soon!

Flyer for Exhibition 2017 - Final Version
Emma Cownie Summer Exhibition

 

© Emma Cownie 2017