To the slopes ( Wellington Monument )

This week our artist of the week is Somerset-based artist Mary Vanderplank.

“Paintings such as ‘To the Slopes (Wellington Monument, Somerset)’ and ‘Floods X (North Curry Moor Somerset)’ depict the rural beauty of Somerset. Do you have a particular favourite Somerset place to paint?”

Living above North Curry Moor means that most journeys from home will involve looking down onto the levels. It is therefore difficult not to notice the changing states brought by weather and season – most dramatic when it floods. This panorama has inspired a whole series of paintings and commissions. The floods of Somerset are essentially a recognisable feature of the area entrenched in its history both beautiful and tragic. I am always drawn to this temporary water, fascinated by the wildlife and the eeriness of kayaking across them . It is perhaps inevitable that these floods are a big source of inspiration for me

Floods X (North Curry Moor Somerset)

Can you tell us more about the main themes that run through your work?

Fundamentally my eye is always captured by reflections whether on freshwater like those floods or salt like the big open beaches of North Devon. With that I have a love of unsettled skies which provide the best contrasts and interest for a composition ; if the sky is blue, I doubt I will be painting more likely be in or on the water! Brought up on a Cotswold hillside, overlooking the Vale of Evesham broken by the Malverns and Welsh mountains behind ,nothing really beats a stunning view as a source of inspiration. So I guess the aim so often is to try and capture a much loved view in something the size of a small window.

Skinners’ Walk(Isle Brewers Somerset

 “In Skinner’s Walk (Isle Brewers) you depict reflections of the landscape on the surface of water. Can you tell us more about the techniques involved in realistically capturing and painting reflections?

Being I suppose an instinctive painter I usually stumble when asked about technique; oil is a very forgiving medium and that makes it easy for me to drift into a painting without too much planning. For Skinners’ Walk the subject perhaps dictated the approach. The willows encase most of the pool in dark shade ; it made sense to create a good dark base of greens, blues and browns that needed to be allowed time to dry thoroughly. This then avoided “muddying” when the lighter colours were added and so weaken the clarity of contrasts.The lighter colours of the reflections were fine to apply as and when, allowing for either blending or sharp lines as required. That first underling dark layer lends the depth and coolness of the water and the lighter hues a sense of movement . Depicting water in oil is ideal as the medium allows for such flexibility.

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