I saw this painting in The National Museum in Cardiff and it inspired me to start painting after a long period of inactivity – thank you Robert Bevan – after yet another period of inactivity my husband brought me the same painting on a postcard, even I could see the serendipity in that!! I haven’t stopped painting since and have no plans to ever again if I can help it! We need to be inspired by other’s work also, another’s expression of beauty helps inspire one’s own humble attempts at expressing the beauty all around – “Maples at Cuckfield” – a wonderful painter.
This painting is of the back of the beautiful gardens lying behind the Caldey Island Monastery on the holy Island of Caldey Island, off Tenby in West Wales, UK. Caldey Island is a veritable ‘Eden’ when the sun illuminates this tree bunched island, the only Welsh island to have trees planted, and so many of them and in such rich variety, each speckling and sculpting shadows in their own way.
The atmosphere on this Holy Island is so relaxing, while peculiarly uplifting at the same time. There are seals frolicking around in the salt-watered topaz and jade, rich turquoises and biro blues which lap on to the gorgeous rough and ragged coastlined ridges which strain and arch to keep this island out of the Bristol Channel.
Peacocks honk and ponies bellow, all meshed in a pot pouri of sound with a medley of birdsong and the plaintive sound of the Cistercian monks singing Divine Office drifting from the Chapel to intermingle as it does with this natural orchestra of the island. The all rejoice in this Creation, give thanks for this plenty. Psalm singing with and without words. It is a very special place to be particularly when God showers the island in sunshine and His glad tidings.,
See the original work by clicking here on Artfinder
This abstracted landscape or ‘refractionist’ work sees the light broken down into light filled colour segments or ‘blocks’ to create an almost pre-perceptual image. The foreground dark reds are juxtaposed against the light-singed orange and lushy leafy greens to suggest a green distant solace from the scorching heat, with the darker blues suggesting a progressively deepened experience of this respite and solace from the sun’s baking rays. Thus we see a transition from scarlety red via the purply blue path through the burnished, charred-edged oranges and fruity greens to the darker recesses of the oil ink blues like a colour spectrum from hot to cool. Again another use of the refractionist motif. Not only are my paintings often refractionist in terms of e.g. light coming through materials as through tree leaves, shedding light ‘stain glass-like’ but in this case symbolising a progression of temperature and the experience of this variation in heat. The rich boiling bloody reds in the foreground also contrast to the purply blue colours of the path. This spreading of light across these different temperature textures also has a ‘lava lamp’ effect’ as if the oily colours slide across the canvas. The path’s purply blues suggests a transition, a comfortable inviting passage to the cooling shade of the far trees. The far ice cool blue contrasts from the initial, foreground liquidly purples, which in their calm serenity suggest relief from the distress of the exasperated, bad tempered heat.
The top of this painting has echos of Cezanne in it; quite accidently I am sure. My husband is a devotee of Cezanne but I have always failed to see the attraction. While in Paris, my husband dragged me reluctantly to an exhibition of Paul Cezanne’s earlier, transformative work. I was far from impressed I must admit, trying desperately to ‘get into it’ especially as my husband looked almost despairing at my inability to ‘get it’. Most of the ‘classics’ were missing for a start – we wandered through the actual pictorial representation of years of Cezanne’s attempts to find ‘his style’. This was quite encouraging in the end, to think even the ‘greats’ have to delve and dig to unearth the technique that most expresses their artist soul. It was reassuring to realise even Cezanne struggled to find his artistic voice. There is hope for us all. I was quite prepared to leave the gallery with this reassurance that maybe even for me… maybe one day. In the final couple of rooms there was a beginnings of the art ephiphany that my husband must have experienced before. Cezanne was beginning to illustrate how we see, not paint what we see with accuracy. He was almost painting the act of ‘seeing’, the experience of it . The breaking down of light, colour, form into ‘patches’ which then all sort of ‘added’ up to the final image; this was illuminating. Why had I not seen this before?
It was a perception in the making according to my husband, who researches neuroscience and is fascinated by perception, how it is constructed. But here we have a painter, an artist, nearly a hundred years ago showing how perceptions is built, via these ’patches’ 0f colour and form. He added that these ‘patches’ are more representative of what and how we see than some other painting of something which is dead to the experience of viewing it. A facsimile of the image. Expression thus may not just be about the feeling or experience of seeing something but a representation of how we see it. How could I have been so blind!? Thus I now paint to express how one feels while ‘perceiving’ the movement of the heart that accompanies the taking in through the senses. The exhilaration of seeing and perceiving. The wonder in the everyday, the extraordinary in the ordinary. Perceiving as a ‘dynamic’ act – an act most ‘vital’ not ‘completed’, finished or done with but being done. Not sunk into canvas or laden with inertia but alive , invigorating, changing, in construction, moving. Not categorised but fluid, still being defined, joyful and light not itemised and final. Not an interpretation but being intrepretated. Active not passive. Now not then. In the present not past tense. Constantly evolving in the moment. Presently present. Here, now, inaffable. Transcending. This what I hope to achieve on this long journey to expressing oneself. To learn how to transport the viewer to the now, to a vaguely remembered, or imagined even, place in the heart. To the obscurely wonderful feeling of being nowhere else but here.
Penmaen is in the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea. This painting is of a ‘peeking out’ view from a car slipping out of a parking area which serves as a place to park and then walk down a rubbly, foot twisting lane, which sports a green grassed mohican, to either the bays, Cliffs or Tor. The view of the road, double yellowed lined, shows a distant bend. The yellow lines warn off and discourage day trippers and tourists from the temptation of parking here, illegally and dangerously. A temptation which is ripe when the wee car park is full, and that doesn’t take much doing. The lines run perpendicularly to the heavy, wooden gate which swings outwards creakingly and inwards invitingly to the ankle damaging, unkempt lane that worms it’s way to the gorse cwtched paths which stumble their way down to the bays. Three Cliffs straight and Tor on the left turn. Each heart sighingly beautiful.
Given their beauty, the wee car park at the head of the walk, around the corner from Penmaen bend, is normally crammed with cars. Hence this area is a busy, at times hectic, part of Gower, in a normally tranquil stretch of road. I have tried to catch this incongruity in my painting. I represent this ‘frisson’ or tension even in the use of a ‘london bus red’ post box and the alarmingly bright yellow lines which are normally associated with more inhabited locales. The double yellows seem to offset the playful trees, bushes and far away hills which balance the painting. The yellow lines also ‘drive’ attention into the distance and the ‘bend’ itself. To those who don’t know or are not familiar with this bit of the world, this tranquil idyll can surprisingly cause some anxiety as the ‘pull-out’ onto the country road requires a heightened vigilance and precise timing as not only does the long distance view, you see in the painting, partially obscure the oncoming traffic, constant during the heady summer days in this awarded area of outstanding beauty, but the obscuring bend to one’s left is acute and allows a limited distance in which to get out onto the safety of the road, with the boot tucked in and away from oncoming traffic, often seen too late as it careers around this left bend. ‘Pulling out’ requires the quelling of the beating heart and a ‘bit of gas’ to make sure. This sudden need for heighten attention always seems odd and jarringly juxtaposed to the meandering absentmindedness of the leisurely dog walking, full lunged, brow sweated rambling, gorse smelling appreciation and generally sunbaked revelry that has preceded it.
I hope there is a hint of quiet, lurking menace in the painting as a result. One of my husband’s favourites this, also. He likes the light in it, particularly. He suggests that the light, to him, is ‘heightened’ and similar to the sophisticated, precise ‘Pixar’ like animated light. Which is an interesting observation. I seek to paint the ‘experience’ of light on colour and form. To achieve this requires the heightening of the effect of light otherwise light can often be dampened or subdued by the absorbing colours. I am much more interested in how light invigorates, resonates, generates or dare I say it animates colour and form, rather than simply dressing it, licking or caressing it. The light is thus generated in this painting, almost coming from within not from without. Without having had the life sucked out of it by colour. This may be what my husband means by ‘animated’ light. This effect is underscored by my use of drawing lines around colours and form, as with the fauvists, and others have suggested this too gives off an animated feel or quality. I also appreciate this observation as I want colour to be the product of being generated, animated by light as if light was the genesis of colour. Thus light creates the colour in a sense rather than colour simply being illuminated by it.