As Woodford Arts Group make tentative plans for an exhibition in June (with a virtual display back up), group member Ged Rumak compares and contrasts two of his spring-themed paintings
Like most people, I have had a love-hate relationship with lockdown, which I won’t discuss here, but needless to say, it has necessarily created a more restricted artistic view of the world. However, with spring upon us, two of my paintings from 2019 in contrasting locations and with different approaches come to mind – one in Rapallo, Italy (inset), and the other in Epping Forest (main image).
Both paintings are not just a matter of recording the subjects to be painted – though the skills to do this are pre-requisite. In working on these images, I am trying to refine the physical experience of being on location. This process involves many things, certainly the fundamental skills of drawing and painting, space, light, tone, perspective, form and composition, but also gut response, risk-taking and a sound knowledge of materials. If all this has worked, then I hope the images have come to life.
Painting and drawing ‘en plein air’ is a tricky business, especially in spring when weather and subject are likely to change quickly. Places seem to have something different to offer each time you see them, especially after a heavy shower. Making sketches and hastily grabbed phone-camera shots are often necessary before proceeding to the studio, but occasionally so is having to revisit the site to consolidate things. Some conjecture and good-old artistic licence can be necessary, but I normally resist the temptation to tidy up too much – staying true to the basic composition as first seen, for better or for worse.
I share the concern of many of my contemporaries over the degradation of painting and drawing skills taught in our art schools. It is essential to be taught or to teach yourself the rules and master them before you break or abandon them.
Most of my work is based on personal experience. I tried to capture a bright, early spring morning in Rapallo before the bustle of the port begins and the tourists descend on the cafés on the waterfront, changing its character. In contrast, forgetting the rules somewhat by breaking down literal shapes and colour combinations, Epping Forest, again on an early spring morning, still evokes a particular sense of time and space.
To lovers of visual art, or perhaps to those who just enjoy the experience of galleries and exhibitions, it’s worth noting that the Woodford Arts Group is planning a Covid-safe exhibition in early June at Packfords Hotel. If this is not possible, a virtual exhibition will be available online.
For more information on Woodford Arts Group, visit swvg.co.uk/wag