This month’s choice is a prolific artist whose work inspired me to recently attend one of her ’30 artworks in a day’ courses. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience not just of loosen up and expanding upon techniques but of meeting Lesley herself.
I believe each of us can begin to develop a personal voice and decide what we like and what we don’t like about what we create. I have always painted from a source. “I see, I hear, I feel … I paint” is my mantra – so whether it be a landscape or a bouquet of flowers – I’m working from observation or memory and combining this with my feelings about what I’m doing.
My work has developed over the years through daily studio practice, becoming familiar with my materials and developing my critical eye. No matter what we paint, there is always a bit of the artist’s personality in there. And that is what I try to bring out in participants in my courses. Working with unfamiliar materials can bring out all sorts of surprises in your mark-making and decisions about colour and form.
I always say that even though you may love Joan Eardley or Rembrandt or Joan Mitchell, it doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with who you are in your expression. My practice in the studio has involved mixing media and experimenting with different surfaces – in effect, playing and being in the moment, often moving swiftly but sometimes slowing down. Reflection does not occur whilst painting. That comes inbetween bouts of intense concentration.
I combine simple play with risk-taking. I have always painted this way and enjoy the freedom of expressive mark-making. This is connected to my love of improvisation as a musician. combine simple play with risk-taking. In my lessons, I combine a structured and controlled approach with playful experimentation to enable me to ‘find the beginnings of what I do’ – or at least, to push my practice forward. Some of my exercises involve controlling the choice of media, colour or shapes, thus preventing overthinking.
The painting journey is a lifelong one and so I would hope that the course triggers in participants the joy of play as well as making clear the realistic frustrations and trials of the hard work of painting. One has to be realistic.
Art can be therapy for many and in brief moments we can achieve creative insights that set off us off on another journey. It’s a case of imagination, the eye and the hand . And it’s a case of practice, practice, practice.
Contact: LesleyBirchartist.com where you can also catch up with her latest newsletter, courses and works.