Countdown to our show ….

With just under 4 weeks to go until our exhibition at Ashdown Gallery, we have set about getting ourselves organised. As well as producing a robust body of work, there is a significant amount of planning and ground work needed in the run up to the show. We thought it might be of interest to write a little of our processes here. This might be a bit dry, but bear with us.. or look at the lovely picture of the mug of tea and cake, of which we have plenty too!

Each work is photographed and catalogued here at our studio. It’s a useful start to keeping track of a sizeable portfolio, particularly when each piece is at a different stage of completion. We keep these in a chronological file and add notes as we go; size, medium, print run for example. It’s a really good habit to get into and provides really useful reference to answer any enquiries. (Files can later be marked as sold, archived or the relevant gallery where the painting is being shown can be noted.)

We have selected 2 images to be released as limited edition giclee prints during the show. We use the most excellent Jim Holden in East Hoathly, East Sussex, who creates the most exquisite reproductions of our work. He goes to such lengths to precisely colour match and ensure the tonality is perfect. We love working with Jim and are very proud of the resulting prints. These will be the images used, please note they are our snaps!

We wanted to have some cards available too, so have used high resolution jpgs of the following 4 paintings;

The company we always use is Digital Colour Services and again they are fantastic. Be sure to send CMYK files, not RGB, as the professional printers won’t interpret the colours quite right. This is a standard requirement of most reprographic services and Photoshop is a good place to start to convert your files.

We have spread the task of framing 22 or so paintings over several months and have used 2 excellent framers close to home, Denny’s and Bury Framing Centre and my old favourites, Uckfield Framing Company in Sussex for the very large pieces, (so that they can be easily transported to the gallery). We are so grateful to each of them for their professionalism, high standard of craftsmanship and vision for each piece. We are delighted with every single painting and each one is presented to its very best.

Finally the framing is almost done, cards are packed and prints are in the hands of Mr Holden. Next on our list is to sign the backs, print certificates of authenticity for each painting, and generate a comprehensive schedule for Ashdown Gallery… oh and publicise the show as much as possible! We are delighted to have such a nice article in Ingenue magazine and have been adding each new work to social media platforms of course.

It would be so wonderful to see some of you at the exhibition, but we will be posting full coverage for those of you who can’t make it.

Finally thank you all for your support and kindness, we really appreciate it.

Lorna and Stephen x

 

 

‘The Firebird’

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‘The Firebird’ watercolour, ink and pencil on monoprint

This particular painting has taken us on quite a journey. We had planned to begin a diptych of Adam and Eve, but the woman staring back at us simply suggested something else. We went with it and reserve our initial intentions for another day…

Here are a few stages in her development. She was drawn on a full sized piece of St Cuthberts Mill Bockingford paper that had been monoprinted with ink and watercolour. Lorna referenced Rossetti in her initial drawing; the classic freshness of her face and gripping gaze was a good place to start. We had also been researching traditional Adam and Eve imagery and Stephen began to work into the hair using Dürer as a marker. The combined elements and strong colour took us on an exciting tangent and after several sessions in the studio, our Firebird gradually emerge instead.

For us it’s important to maintain an open approach to our work and the resulting subject matter, it’s essential in fact. We work with what the image dictates and respond to each other’s marks. We sometimes have a firm idea, but have learned that that can often change; each painting has its own story to tell and we embrace the journey they take us on. One of the many wonderful things about working collaboratively is that the development unfolds with at a pace that is challenging and reactive to each other’s marks. We can be both subjective and objective at the same time. Each piece is deeply cognitive, full of discussion and debate with complete equality in direction.

 

Icarus

We have been totally enthralled by painting this image and were up with the lark this morning to finish it off. Again Rubens provided some inspiration, but only when a strong arm became apparent after looking closely at what the initial watercolour and ink marks suggested. Stephen began to draw some extraordinary lines around what was fast becoming an elbow. They seemed to suggest wings to us, (Mercury perhaps, though ideally they would appear on his ankles) and then we realised that we were staring straight at Icarus. He was the son of Daedalus, the creator of the labyrinth and died not heeding his father’s advise and flew too near to the sun.

Stephen and I both worked alternately on the wings, encouraging them to look tattered, burned and melted. We used a variety of ink pens to vary the marks and encouraged them down the right hand side of the figure.

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Some details below of Icarus’ marks and textures and the Rubens drawing that helped to lead us there.

 

‘Lay of the Land’

Our latest piece is a small study inspired by Rubens. We love to explore the possibilities that a good anatomical sketch presents, seeking new forms and interpretations as always.

Here is the original Rubens sketch, our interpretation drawn over some highly textured marks and finally the finished piece, rotated and redefined.

Maiko in the making, new work in progress

We return to our deeply inspirational trip to Japan now for our latest series of work. Using material Lorna gathered from an evening in Gion corner in Kyoto, two new paintings are emerging simultaneously.

Again, the first step has been to apply bold washes of watercolour. Strong colour and plenty of textured, gestural marks offers emerging forms and exciting opportunities. Into these we begin to work in turn, finding the balance between strong drawing, abstract forms and the excitement of the automatic line. Within that we strive to find an image that can be read two ways; resolution comes with a twist most often and that is what really excites us.

These are a few details of the two paintings in progress and we will publish the completed works very soon…

 

 

‘Perseus and Andromeda’

This piece began with a study of the Three Graces; the interplay of arms drew us to the image. Once the initial phase was completed, Stephen explored the intriguing abstract quality of the third figure on the right hand side. At this point, we started to consider its strengths from different angles.

The power of the two arms reaching from top to bottom were important for us to preserve. They have weight and serve to emphasise a sense of motion. We enjoy the ambiguity too, as the hands read in a variety of ways.

We continued to work into the marks, finding contrast with fine lines and dark swathes of ink. Stephen worked into the remaining female figures’s hair with a fantastic cascade of texture, echoing the gravity of the upright composition.

It became evident that a male form was emerging at the top of the painting and it was at that point, that we realised the emerging image was of Perseus and Andromeda. The refining of his head brought balance to Andromeda and encourages the viewer to trace the action from top to bottom.

This is the completed work