For the last few years I have been coming out to the Limousin region of France to help people who are holidaying, with painting as a daily activity. Travelling by train sometimes, but mostly by car which is my preferred means of transport. To be able to pack all the art materials I could possibly want and to bring my dogs. (Also many pairs of shoes – I do not pack thriftily. )
This year I have extra time in France for a bit of exploration. We drove to the coast directly east of Limoges and were delighted by the contrast in landscape. In an hour we progressed through vineyards, sunflowers and maize crops to vast expances of wetland with turquoise sea just visible, shimmering – way, way in the distsnce. Muddy and seaweeded. We walked and paddled in warm pools which formed where people had dug down for clams. Straggled, structures of rusting, rotting posts, rigged for the growing of oysters rose from the flats.
It is my last week teaching at this venue in France for now. I don’t attract enough people. It maybe coming from Scotland makes it a little more expensive or difficult for my contacts, And brexit has added uncertainty to the process. Whatever. I will savour the time and give those attending exclusive care and attention. It’s been a most pleasurable place to work, the chateaux ambiance, hospitality and charming people. A grand experience and great studio space.
The temperature is rising. The lake shimmers the midday sun but remains a murky green. Not reflecting the unbroken blue of the sky
I have driven here with Sue, my friend for nearly 50 years. We walk the dogs and share so much history, but there are still plenty of interesting gaps to fill out.
Could also be called making space for the future.
I went delving into the dark space under a tarpaulin (that is in the barn to protect varies object from swallow pooh) and found an old suit case of my grandmothers. Not filled with lost delights of hers, but with sketch books that I filled in my college and early years.
They smelled of mould and had the bloom of mildew. But also contained far more drawings of friends and family from that time than I had remembered.
Tia Lambert – who was a close friend and ally in my foundation year at Canterbury College of Art. Also went on to study fine art at Farnham with me. Although we lived in the same accommodation (West Cottage, Wrecclesham ), we didn’t have the same connection. I know she is now living near Malvern and still making the most lovely paintings. By co incidence I worked with a man from that area a couple of years ago, he knew her and gave me good news update.
Friend since she joined the same class as me for the long secondary school years at Tonbridge Girls Grammar. Sue Doe, this drawing was done in 1979 when we on a barging holiday together. The drawing probably made her looks older than her years at the time, but she looks just the same to me now. We walk and talk and share so much common ground.
Sheena Broom became a dear friend when she came to lodge with us at Frailey Hill, Woking, in 1980. This was a short time before I married Paul Duley. She stayed for two years and of course moved on – after some ups and downs since then, she has lived mostly in New Zealand. That has meant our times together over the years have been rare treats.
I have been preparing for the Marcliff Charity event – Painting Demonstration, for months. It has been the main marker in my diary and so the focus of my mind. Paintings have been mounted and framed, paper stretched, mounts for display have been cut.
Planning (in my head) how I would approach the painting evening. With two pieces of work, one loosely painted making advantage of wet in wet and the other a more controlled piece of flowers painted to form a composition across the page.
The time didn’t fly by, but I was caught out by how long it took me to paint with my hand shaking. I felt quite ok, but the adrenaline nearly got the better of me.
The room at the Marcliff was pretty well full, the audience had a good number of families faces, so not unfriendly or intimidating. Except when it went completely quiet. And hot under the lights. It must be a bit like the experience of being an actor. The questions from the audience were helpful as I found I could paint faster and more confidently when I was taking the edge off it by talking.
I am grateful for the opportunity to test myself and glad it is behind me.
– so today I can relax.
But I have managed to finish off the longer piece to my satisfaction.
The left hand cornflower inserted to cover up a pink dribble. And a bit more detail on some of the flowers and stems. Euphorbia added at the request of the purchaser.
My legs ache from walking on hard pavements and marble hallways but as always for me – viewing of fine art – particularly paintings; is like a blood transfusion to the creative soul. Uplifted by others, I feel revived.
Thanks for visiting the new website for Susie’s artwork, posts will be made of news of events, workshops and new work… If you’ve any comments or questions, please send Susie an email via my contact form.