My art practice during 2017 saw me constantly working towards exhibitions and creating paintings to suit either the venue or the group I was exhibiting with. None of this was a problem for me in terms of creative reward but it did not take me out of my comfort zone. I wasn't stretched and I like to be stretched!
I explored images of the sea to exhibit at Whitestones Gallery and Cafe on Portland which I shared with Stephen Bithell (plein air landscape painter) and Darren Wheeler (woodturner and sculptor). Our work hung well together and I was happy to see some paintings find new homes.
I developed close observation of the patterns and surfaces of pebbles that I had started painting in 2016 and pushed them through a formula; first by 'unwrapping' the surfaces then enlarging parts of those studies to large abstract paintings that described the geology, elements and history of the Jurassic Coast .. and not a fossil to be seen! This work was shown at Shaftesbury Arts Centre with the ceramics of Jonathan Garratt, who I invited to share the space with me in June. The colours and mark making in our work worked was complementary. In retrospect I see that some stages of the process were unnecessary or did not go far enough.
Following swiftly on from this was my contribution to the exhibition 'Fifty Bees and the Interconnectedness of all things' coordinated by Lydia Needle at ACE Arts in Somerton. During the winter months I had explored and produced a choice of companion pieces to my assigned rare solitary bee, Hyleaus Incongruus! I learned so much about bees, spent a lot of time observing my bee's typical habitat down the lane and making work about what interested me visually. I became attuned to the insects that pollinate on our meadows and hedgerows as Spring became Summer and this fed into paintings for the next exhibition.
DefinArtly was a group exhibition at Shaftesbury Arts Centre which I coordinated inviting painter - Karren Burkett, textile artist - Amanda House,and metal sculptor/blacksmith - Colleen du Pon. With an unwritten theme of landscape and nature, I developed work from the observations of hedgerows and meadows that I had been recording throughout the summer and produced paintings that were expressive and often bright and on the verge of abstract. It was a lively and complementary exhibition in November, attracting visitors thinking of Christmas presents.
One of the visitors to the DefinArtly exhibition said to me that it looked as though I was on the brink of being an abstract artist and just needed to make that leap. So I have been thinking about that ...