Sunday, 4 September 2016

Exhibiting at the Great Wall

I have just had my first solo exhibition in China and right next to the source of my inspiration! I am so proud that in just over 11 days studio time and quite a few nights in my room, I made something like 55 paintings and then set up a show in two hours with the help of my hosts. 

This photo shows me with one of the pivotal pieces I exhibited which is called 'Mosaic Mountain,' and which is based on my walk up to the Great Wall. While others took the chair lifts I wanted to walk. It took me about 45 minutes and I thought about all the people across the centuries who walked up that mountain and their lives and footsteps became patches and shapes of colour. This painting also extended an approach I had begun on raw canvas a day earlier and with both of these pieces I mixed different mediums: acrylic, ink, collage, pen and marker pen. They are both 54 by 40 inches and I hung them from nails by string in my show.

 In this photo you can see that I laid my large paintings on rice paper on tables. It was not the best way to see their shapes and colours but I had limited time. In the background you can see several of my works on watercolour paper hung by clips from string! Right behind them through the window you can see the Great Wall strung like a garland along the mountains - as this next photo will show.


My canvases were along two walls; the larger ones together and two smaller ones by some Windows. I also had some more watercolours hung from two black bamboo screens.

I had spent the previous night thinking how I could hang these pictures as it is not easy when work is on raw canvas and stuff is unframed.


It is always positive to make a show because it gives you an overview of the various strands of thought - though I don't like to be too cerebral about something that rests on a lot of mystery - and I could see where elements had gone forward and which ideas I will develop in the UK. 

Preparing for my show near the Great Wall of China

Today I carried all my work back down the road from my studio in the village (not far) and have sorted it into two sections; to hang and not to hang. As I have limited time to hang the work and generally people get bored after seeing 20 paintings I am only showing 20: 6 on canvas, five on rice paper ( large) and 9 or 10 on watercolour paper. I wish I had had the chance to do the really large painted I envisaged before I came but ordering a stretched canvas was going to take too long. I am posting a photo of me in the studio with 'Mosaic Mountain,' and the rice paper painting I made yesterday called 'He worked in the field under the Mountain,' and another of my 'Fiona's China Journey.'




Preparing for China Exhibition

On a day when the rain is torrential I am busy doing a painting on rice paper in my room - too wet to go up the road to my studio - and listing the works that will go in the show tomorrow when I set it up. Roughly it will be the six works on canvas, two of which will hang like tapestries, plus about 10 (of 36) on watercolour paper and possibly 5 of my 11 on rice paper. How I will hang it all remains to be seen! It will require some creative thinking! For this post I am adding a couple of rice paper works and one on watercolour paper.




1. 'The Moon illuminated the Mountains and the Corn-creatures
2. 'Fiona's China Journey.'
3. 'China Poem.'

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Two weeks Later!

More than two weeks have passed and I gave up doing the blog because it would not post on the Internet ( a job for when I am home). I am getting ready to make a show here on Saturday! I have done a lot of work - six on canvas, around 50 gouache on paper and ten on rice paper. I am going to post a few of the works. The first two are on raw canvas and around 54 X 40 inches. The rice paper painting is 98 X 96. I am also posting a view of my studio.





I am in to my 4th day here and while still coping with jet lag I have managed to make around 16 paintings on paper. Mostly I work in the hot afternoons or at night. The thing about a new place is finding a painting form and structure for your responses, and of course first you have to sift through a lot of material. So many sights interest me here,  from the golden ceramic slabs ( animals or dragons) that sit on paving or in greenery, to the tiled roves and abundance of greenery, and the calligraphic lettering that jumps out from buildings. I am not a painter to 'copy' a scene - nothing wrong with this but it doesn't satisfy me. I need to find brush strokes and colours to catch the spirit of China as I feel it. So a journey into the unknown! They are my visual poems.
This is one of my first paintings. I am alternating between abstraction and some figurative reference. I am planning to get the bus to Beijing for art materials soon so will absorb some of the local atmosphere. I am not expecting to resolve my ideas here - they will probably evolve once I am home - so I am just gathering material.
(My room with its own garden and my paints)

Second day!

It is my first full day and I slept well, sticking to local time. I just woke once at 3.30am and ate a little chocolate to get back to sleep (it works!) so far not major jet lag though I know from last time that it kicks in about the third day! 
(A photo taken at Carles de Gaulle airport)

(Painting on the floor in my room late last night - I made three !)

It is very hot and humid today and clouds are rolling in and bringing some coolness. I have had breakfast and been for a short walk to the village, Beigou, just up the hill. Painting materials are now unpacked and ready to take to studio! Can't wait!
Here are some photos of the area........

And views of the restaurant and garden.....


After some 30 hours of travelling I am now sitting in my room near the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu. It is a lovely self-contained room with a view of the mountains (not visible in my photo). Here it is breakfast time and I have been offered some but my system is quite confused!

What impressed me first about the area was the many shades of green. On the long and rural drive from the airport, I was surrounded by a burgeoning tsunami of greens, intertwined around and between trees, with the most luxuriant carpets of low growing plants everywhere. Some huge yellow flowers hung from garlands of large leaves, many of which were growing up trees.

I think I had not expected the mountains to be so huge and rugged. I am looking forward to going exploring when I have had some sleep, but I feel that many elements here will revive and impact on my paintings.

I have been out and exploring the area, and had a lovely supper in the restaurant (lots of fried veg!) and I sat by a small pool and watched the mountains darken. It is much cooler now and I came back to my room because I want to paint! I already took a number of ideas. Tomorrow I will post lots of photos but I can see that this is going to be a very productive time!

As it is my 5th Wedding Anniversary on Friday I have put my husband's card next to my bed.