Sketchbooks, Memory and Imagination - 2023 is my Year of Field Study Work

Sketchbook work and final painting in progress

It's been a while since I made something new - I painted every local landscape I could get my hands on last year so that I could build up a stock of works, and I still have a good few both with me and in retailers, which is great! 

I feel like I need to do something a bit different this year though, a project to expand my artistic skills in another direction;  make some new marks, use unusual colours, something... like that.  I've not yet been able to be an artist that says "this is what all my paintings should look like, from now on", and maybe I never will be one of those artists, I am always pulled by something that inspires a change, or at least a development in my existing style.  So I fancy a little departure from straight-up painting, at least in this first part of 2023.

painting of ballyholme cloudburst on wall

Being so busy with art fairs and markets in the run up to Christmas gave me a good couple of months to think this over, and I realised that I had already started a new process over the past 12 months with my sketch book walking group.  I had started to draw more, and regularly - choosing a spot each month and working up a series of drawings and mark-making exercises, taking between 30 seconds and half an hour.  Along the way I started to use a set of very vibrant coloured pencils rather than just a pen or pencil, in some cases disregarding natural colours in favour of a limited palette of brights, whatever I had with me.  At the same time, being immersed in the place I was drawing and noticing all these little things that get overlooked, or taking an hour to properly look at the place and absorb its essence, which can't always be distilled from a quick photo.

As I had more fun and really started to let go of straight perfectionist studies in favour of more abstract shapes and gestural marks, I

found I was itching to develop them in to something else as soon as I could.  So Saturday afternoons became a sort of development lab for what I'd captured in the mornings, and I wasn't using photos, or trying to make something I thought someone would buy, I was just having a great time being creative and properly making something from my heart and soul, for the joy of it.  But these development pieces were still in my sketchbook, or in mini A5 drawing experiments, some of which I took out at Christmas and sold.

So I have decided to continue in this vein.  The rules are, I have to go to the place

with my sketchbook.  I draw whatever inspires me, make notes about things to try, whatever I can do with my sketching tools.  Then I work those drawings and samples up in to larger paintings/drawings and mixed media pieces using only what I have recorded in the sketchbook pages, what I remember from being there, and whatever shakes out in the process of making it.

So here is finished abstract landscape painting number 1 - as yet untitled.  Pictured with the sketchbook page that inspired it from a dark twilight sketch down at Ballyholme last week.


You can check out my Tiktok video of it here too, just scan the QR code.

The first opportunity I will have to show new works of this type will be from 14th February to 26th of March at North Down Museum Cafe, as part of the North Down Craft Collective's "Regeneration" exhibition.  See social media for details in the coming month! 

Do let me know what you think of the new artworks, that's why I'm making them, to get a register on how they connect with people, what it would mean to have one in that perfect spot in your home, or maybe they inspire you to try something new.

Happy new year, wishing you all a bit of an imaginative spark in 2023!  Jenni x

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