Lackford Cormorants by Penny Newman
MEET THE MEMBER – Penny Newman
Other art societies you belong to:
Ely Art Society
Role in the SEAW :
I have recently volunteered to be the liason person for The SEAW Friends quarterly newsletters. The newsletter is a valuable way for Friends to find out more about our wonderful watercolour society, to find out more about the individual members who paint in a wide variety of ways who form its body and to discover, try out and to share with each other lots of different ideas and ways of painting through our regular Tutorials and Challenges.
If you are a Friend I would like to hear from you with your thoughts about the Newsletter – What do you like about it? What would you like to see included?
If you are an SEAW member please be patient with me if and when I contact you to ask you if you would like to complete a ‘Meet The Member’ questionnaire , or to write a Tutorial or a Challenge to be included in the newsletter. Remember how much you have learnt from others over your years of painting and enjoy sharing some of that knowledge with others. For those of you who are watercolour tutors the inclusion of a piece by you is a great way to let Friends know that you are a tutor, to see something of your style and approach and maybe to pick up some additional interest in your tuition opportunities, whether that’s online at the moment or in person at some point in the hopefully not too distant future.
When did you start painting?
I can remember drawing and painting ever since I was a young child growing up on Dartmoor. My Dad was a draughtsman and I remember many happy hours with him patiently teaching me to be observant and accurate in my drawings. And we had some lovely times sketching outside together too.
What led you to start painting?:
I came from a school environment that didn’t encourage bright children to take up art. So my childhood experiences of art were not continued as a young adult. It was whilst recovering from a serious illness in my late 30’s that I reflected upon what I wanted to do in life and art was the thing that I wanted to take up and explore again. It was a steep learning curve – I felt and still do that I had so much to learn!
What subject matter do you like to paint?
I like to work primarily outside – en plein air. I enjoy being in the landscape with its changing seasons, weathers and times of day. To me, there is something wonderful that transmits itself from the landscape around me to the work that I seek to produce whether this is simply sketches or bigger and more resolved pieces of work.
Big open landscapes, big skies, water and colours in the landscape always draw me. I also like to paint flowers in quite loose expressive ways. Almost all of my work starts from life. I rarely use photos.
Do you have a preference for a painting style? If so, can you describe it?
I think I have a variety of styles that I pick and choose between and to which I am drawn at different times and for different subject matter.
Sometimes this is a detailed and precise way of working but more often I use a looser, more expressive way of painting. This may be with pen and wash, bolder ink and stronger colours, or introducing some gouache. It is the colours and movement of a place that inspire me and I like to emphasise those aspects and my responses to them in my paintings.
Where do you paint? At home? Studio? Outside?
Outside! Almost all of my work is done outside. If the weather turns wet then I might complete a piece at home and sometimes I will add some more defined marks at home. But mostly pieces are started and finished on location. I do not have a studio, but I do have a room at home that gets triple use as a spare bedroom, office and art work room. At the moment during lockdown, I am working more in my kitchen where it is bright and sunny, and also in my garden.
Which artists inspire you and why?:
So many and for different reasons.
- Leonardo Da Vinci for his detailed beautiful silver point drawings
- Monet for his use of colour
- Caravaggio for such bold striking portraits
- Roland Hilder for his use of a limited palette and pen and wash
- Kurt Jackson for his imaginative use of watercolour
- Ann Blockley for her bold and expressive flowers and landscapes
- Lewis Noble for inspiring me to try collage as a way of depicting the elements of the environment in different less representative ways
What galleries do you like to visit?:
I like to visit the Open Art Studios each year particularly in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. There is something wonderful about seeing where people actually do their painting and seeing their equipment, work in progress and sketchbooks.
Where would you really like to travel to and paint? What is it about this place that inspires you?
At the moment as we are in lockdown – anywhere – even the local park!
Otherwise, I would like to travel more to the many different rural parts of the UK which each have different atmosphers and colours. And the UK gives us such beautiful and changeable skies. So perhaps Northumberland, the Pembrokeshire coast, Scotland and the West Country
What is your favourite colour to paint with?
Well the colours that I seem to use most of are ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.
I like to pop a shot of an unexpected colour into a painting sometimes eg cobalt turquoise.
Painting flowers allows me to use such an array of wonderful bright colours – I like to use transparent colours when painting them.
Your favourite brush?
I use a range of brushes and will choose a selection for each painting. Sometimes I like to paint using squirrel mops, sometimes flat brushes but more often a range of brushes including rounds.
I love my 2 travel brushes which have lovely sharp points. They have detachable handles and fit into a small space. Great when I’m out sketching with just a small bag.
Your favourite paper?
I like rough paper best – it enables me to best suggest textures when painting the landscape. At the moment – Saunders Waterford Rough paper is my favourite.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given about art?
It’s only a piece of paper!
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listen to your heart – if it is telling you to draw and paint – do it. Always make time for art even if life pulls you into different directions.