I often find that when I have a dry spell and hunger for  bit of inspiration, then looking to my favourite artists does the trick. I was having one of those times recently when what I really wanted was to jet off somewhere for a cultural experience or a shot of gallery viewing. Second best was an Amazon trawl of books to inspire. I searched some of my favourite contemporary artists and was delighted when  this book, Adventurous Watercolours, came up.

Turkish Cup - Jenny Wheatley

I’ve been an admirer of Jenny Wheatley’s work since I saw her at an Art In Action eon’s ago. She was painting at her stand and was so friendly and bubbly and just enjoying herself. There was colour everywhere and when I spied the teacup paintings I started to feel that feeling, you know the one where you just have to join in somehow. It was years until that experience percolated into something tangible for me but I often look to clippings and cards of Jenny’s work for inspiration.

Ramatuelle - Jenny Wheatley

My feeling of Jenny, having read this book, is one of a very accomplished and well taught artist who can talk formally on composition and colour etc, but doesn’t necessarily. She is enthusiastic and energetic. She works with her sleeves rolled up lifting out colours, washing them in, sprinkling pigment directly onto the paper and rolling it in. She dabs and scratches, flicks and paints, blots and stencils.

Telephone Exchange - Jenny Wheatley

She bends the rules and breaks a few too. This book is full of rich advice about how and why and just encourages you to have a go and not be precious. She often over-paints mistake paintings or washes the whole thing off in the bath!

Deux Garcons at Night - Jenny Wheatley

Amazingly Jenny hardly ever touches white. She gets the sense of white by blotting out washes so that they glow and by putting in really dark tones around.

Neighbours Nice - Jenny Wheatley

She builds her paintings up layer after layer; sometimes as many as twenty. But she has a clear idea before she starts what the composition should be but she does allow the paint to surprise her along the way. She is a fan of wet in wet painting (me too!) which allows unplanned for bleeding of colours.

Through The Gate, Down the Valley and Out to Sea - Jenny Wheatley

She uses  brush marks to be gestural not accurate representations of a feeling or emotional response. That said she is committed to working on sight whenever she can (even if that means sitting by a rubbish dump) and believes observation and drawing on site is vital in observing what is unobvious or comes as a personal response. Photographs are tools to aid the memory but a direct response is the highest way in her opinion.

Interior Conversation - Jenny Wheatley

She breaks the rules and mixes media and add collage. Although acrylics dry with a slighty shiny surface, jenny still washes over with watercolour pint to get a broken texture.

“Our response to colour is subjective and individual. We see colours differently and this, together with our character, our painting skills and other factors, influences our interpretation of colour. In my view, this response to colour is something to exploit.”

Japanese Interior - Jenny Wheatley

Similarly she is happy once she got a true picture of a still life or building, to play compositionally to interpret, emphasise or reorganize the elements to make the picture say something in a certain way. Layering of colour and marks to build up a mood or composition.

Early Morning View - Jenny Wheatley

I love her idea of using a square frame and composing squares within squares compositionally.

Passing the Time of Day - Jenny Wheatley

She gives hints at perspective through layering and brushwork and uses negative space and pattern to communicate to the reader something of the scene.

Place aux Herbes - Jenny Wheatley

In fact she has inspired me to get on with a little project that I have side lined for years – so I hope to steam into that later this week. Hope she’s inspired you too!

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