Circles, colour and the trees of Epping Forest are among the inspirations for self-taught artist Sue Mayne, one of many local creatives to join the recently founded Woodford Arts Group.
As a traveller, I have always enjoyed looking at art as an art tourist, and it was while in Madrid in 1988 that I went to the Prado Museum and saw The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. I was captivated and my love of art history began.
Frustrated with my career in the banking industry, I decided to return to study in the 1990s while still working full-time. I did an A level in Art History and the following year enrolled with The Open University and studied all the art history modules available at that time. By 2002, I achieved a BA Honours.
While studying a modern art module in 1999, I decided to have a go myself. I bought a set of acrylics and some paper, and never looked back. I’ve been painting now for nearly 20 years.
Over the years, I have experimented with pretty much all media, but I always return to acrylics as I love the flexibility and immediacy of the medium, which suits my style of painting. I often change my mind about a planned composition or colours, and with acrylics, it is usually easy to paint over and change. With such a diversity of types of acrylic paints on the market, experimentation is so interesting and rewarding. I rarely produce a painting in one sitting, and if it’s of a local scene, I often revisit the site many times to contemplate the next stage of the painting.
I always have my camera with me, taking photos of good compositions for a painting and reinterpreting them back in my studio at the bottom of my garden. My paintings cover an eclectic mix of genres from still life, landscapes and seascapes, animals and flowers to various abstract themes I have developed over the years. I love painting water and mountains and have travelled widely, including spending time living on the south island of New Zealand.
My abstract paintings generally follow a theme. In 2002, I began a range of paintings based on ‘colours of the rainbow’. I started out strictly using seven colours, but in later years used more, or less, to make my paintings more diverse. In 2005, I began my circles paintings. Based on the ‘colours of the rainbow’ theme, but using circles, I brought in basic colour theory that says the eye is attracted to ‘fire’ colours (red, orange and yellow). The intention is your eye is drawn to the centre of these paintings, and moves around and out to the edges containing the ‘cold’ (blues and greens) colours. That’s the theory anyway!
I am always looking to explore a new idea, not necessarily taking a ‘conventional’ approach to the subject matter. There is one thing that just about all of my paintings have in common whatever the genre… they are very colourful!
A love of walking, especially in the forest, has inspired me to focus on my paintings of Epping Forest over the last few years. Every forest painting is a specific location – favourite spots include Connaught Water, High Beach, Highams Park Lake and Wanstead Park.
I have exhibited and sold many paintings over the years. My first solo exhibition was at the Lopping Hall Gallery in Loughton in 2016. In November 2018, my second solo exhibition was at The View in Chingford. As a member of Essex Art Club, I exhibited at their recent exhibition at The View and also took part in Woodford Arts Group’s even more recent exhibition at Packfords Hotel.