The summer is an amazing time of year to be living in North Devon. With the warmer weather, I can head for a surf at one of my local beaches before finding a spot to pitch up and paint the view.
Diversifying from the watercolours and gouache of previous months, I often painted with oil paints on board when on location. Painting on board was liberating, as I usually paint oils onto expensive aluminium sheets, so naturally you are more careful in your approach. I experimented with oils in different techniques such as ‘impasto’, where you layer the paint down so thickly that it protrudes out of the surface, almost sculpturally.
Whilst I love painting coastal and city scenes, I wanted to push myself further out of my comfort zone by tackling a completely foreign terrain to me – mountains. With this in mind, I planned a road trip to the Alps, driving from Calais through France towards Mont Blanc. Until experiencing the mountains in person, I had no idea how truly monumental they are. Besides their immense scale, the light of the alps is breathtaking. I was struck by the effect snow has in reflecting sunlight upwards, making shadows appear an intense blue hue on a summer’s day. I stopped off at several beautiful locations to paint along the road, including a Van-Gogh-esque sunflower field, and numerous French cafes.
My trip to the French Alps gave me such a range of inspiration for new work, and reiterated the importance of getting out to new places to keep your work fresh, as so often I am painting scenes that I am familiar with. There is nothing like that feeling when you experience a place for the first time, and respond to it with paint – the artwork created has an immediacy and authenticity which cannot be matched.