The idea of calling this show ‘Chasing the Light’ came from my experience painting from life, in the open-air studio (plein air), a practice made famous by the French Impressionists.
My first memory of plein air painting was when I was 19, riding my bike in North Wales, where I was at University. I stopped to try and paint a lane with evening sun and shadows on it. A farmer came to have a look and asked me, ‘why are you painting that?’, I said I wasn’t sure, I just liked painting the light and the shadows. He looked at me oddly and then left.
Despite the challenges of plein air painting, fickle weather, rising tides and curious passers-by, I prefer to paint in front of my subject. I complete landscape work on location, with only minor adjustments back in the studio. All the answers are there in front of you, you see people and stuff you just can’t invent. It’s always about the effects of light. I have to work fast to capture the image before the conditions change and for that reason, most of my paintings are small. Some of the larger ones in the show required repeat visits to the same location, when the conditions were similar. The large ‘Accommodation Paddock’ painting was a particularly difficult one to complete. My attempt to get what I wanted from the small, on-site sketches, wasn’t working in the studio. I ended up carting the canvas up to the location in the central highlands several times before I felt I had what I wanted.
The subjects of the paintings in this show are random things that I found attractive at the time. Most were painted on location in Tasmania but I have included some done while on holiday visiting Tasmanian friends now living in Collioure, France. Some may think a few of the subjects were an odd thing to paint, but for me they were beautiful, transformed by the particular light and atmosphere at that time. It’s the way I see things that I want to convey to the viewer. It’s a language. I enjoy it when someone connects with the image as I saw it.
Lady Franklin Gallery, 268 Lenah Valley Road
Exhibition now closed. Thank you so much to everyone who attended!