Gardiner, Vanessa (b.1960)

"As a landscape painter I am captivated both by the beauty of the places on which my work is based and by the processes involved during the making of the pictures. In a sense, for me, they go hand-in-hand: the immediacy of drawing directly from the seemingly haphazard natural subject matter, with the careful selection and ordering of the compositions back in the studio. Concentrating on the coastlines around Cornwall, Ireland and more recently the Isle of Skye, I am aware of the connecting elements found within these landscapes; each are shaped and weathered in common by the Atlantic Ocean and all are strongly characterised by their individual and compelling features of grand coastal scenery. Drawing is an essential part of my work. I like to get to know a place well before beginning to paint from it and I start by making a number of drawings directly from the subject. Some of these may be close, observational drawings made over a period of time or quicker notes purely to glean some specific information which I will use back in the studio. In this way I am able to elucidate new elements to use in my paintings, paring down the compositions in order to capture the essence of each of these singular coastal places. I work on plywood or hardboard as they are rigid and robust and give me the freedom to change the composition of a painting easily if necessary by cutting them down; the picture is then not restricted to a prescribed format. During the painting process, I often redraw the image, scouring and sanding back the paint until the surface becomes significantly changed and enlivened. The board responds well to my technique and takes on a beautiful patina, leaving traces and histories of paint in its grain and revealing qualities of its own. It is this physical process, together with the rational ordering of the image in my mind which enthralls me - the linearity of the graphite with the rubbed paint surfaces and the unexpected results which may then occur."

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