Monday Motivator: Joan Eardley

Monsieur P painting“Eardley did not make conventional preparatory drawings in Catterline; rather she made … pastel drawings as exercises in studying light, colour and composition.”

Joan Eardley Exhibition in EdinburghThis quote comes from one of the info boards in the “Joan Eardley: A Sense of Place” exhibition which I went to see on Friday (it’s on until May at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; go see it if you can!). Looking at her landscape paintings I was taken by her use of colour, the contrasts between grey skies and colour elsewhere which is sometimes muted, sometimes high key (dominated by light tonal value), sometimes intense, often layered yet opaque.

It reminded me again how important it is, for the type of painting I aim to be doing, not to think “I’m painting this landscape and it’s got these recognisable features, this hill, this tree etc” but to look at the colours, the shapes, the light. To convey my sense of enjoyment of these — and I’d add pattern to the list — foremost and to suggest rather than dictate the representational aspects or “likeness”. And to get my box of pastels out again.

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