You recently won Devon Life’s Landscape artist of the year with Before the Start of Day. Can you tell us a bit more about this work, its influences and techniques?
I actually won Devon Life’s Landscape artist of the Year with a couple of paintings. Before the Start of the Day was inspired by a very early morning visit to Beer and watching the sun rise. The wonderful colours have been exaggerated in this painting to create an atmospheric abstract seascape. The blue was important to me and ended up being the overriding colour in this painting.
The other painting is called Perfect Day. Last winter I was so inspired by the skies, which were so wonderful full of many colours. This is a painting inspired by those awe inspiring skies and perfect days spent in the Devon’s many beautiful places.
In both these paintings I have ragged on oil paint all over the canvas to create an initial atmosphere. Then I work with big decorating brushes and other diy tools to layer over the paint using some cold wax and linseed oil. I work on my paintings over a 3 or 4 days layering paint until I create the atmosphere that I’m after.
What was your route to becoming an artist?
I trained at Chelsea School of Art in Illustration. This was a big influence on me as the course was quite expressive and I spent my time painting. I then went on to Brighton to do an MA in Illustration and Editorial Design. From then for many years I worked in greeting card companies, such as Hallmark and ended up running my own greeting card business, designing all the cards. I wound up that business a few years ago after I fell in love with painting again after a trip down to Cornwall. Ever since I painted that first landscape painting that was it. I was hooked and have been painting ever since!
Has any artist living or dead been of significant influence in the development of your work?
One day about 4 years ago I went into a lovely gallery called White Space and saw a Louise Balham painting and I loved it. I think it was at that moment I thought I’d like to paint again. Also Turner is a big influence with his atmospheric skies, which are so wonderful. Another painter I love is Joan Eardley for her wonderful textural landscapes.
Your current body of work focuses on Devon’s woodlands. What is it about this subject that particularly inspires you?
We recently got a dog and I found myself doing a lot more walking! Recently I have regularly walked in the woods around where I live. I find woods magical and inspiring. I love the way the light comes through the trees and the contrast of light and dark. It was exciting and different to work more in the vertical for a bit, although I’m sure there will be a lot more seascapes on the way as I hope to spend some sketching time on the beach this summer holidays.
Can you describe other sources of inspiration?
I do a lot of teaching and workshops. I do find these a source of inspiration as I’m always thinking of new ideas for courses and this pushes me to try new things and experiment. I think it’s so important to keep pushing yourself.
How significant in the development of your work is the use of a sketchbook?
I think a sketchbook is essential. I use it in the landscape and seascapes and also in the studio to develop new ideas. But I also think photographs play a part. You can capture a beautiful sky or a particular atmosphere and can be very useful. As I live a busy life with 3 kids all doing different things it’s not always possible to have time to take the time to sketch, so then a photograph is a brilliant way of capturing information.
Can you describe the development of your style from when you first started to paint until today?
Initially when I started painting again I worked in quite a realistic way from photos. I’ve slowly moved away from that to something more abstract and atmospheric. An art course I went on in Newlyn encouraged me in this direction and I find it more exciting, although surprisingly harder as you’re never quite sure what the final result will beWhat are you currently working on?
I am still obsessing over trees! In a few weeks I’m spending a week at the North Devon beaches, so I expect a series of seascapes might follow.
What is the time scale involved in making this work and technique of working over a surface to create texture?
The tree paintings tend to take me 2 or 3 days, as I let each layer of paint dry off a bit before applying the next. I find this quite affective in creating depth and texture.
How would you like your work to evolve in the future?
I’d like to keep exploring landscape, but also I have in my head that I’d like to try something figurative, so watch this space.
Belinda email email@example.com
Belinda Website http://www.belindareynell.com