Monday Motivator: Paintings that are Reactions not Representations

Monday Motivator Inspirational Art Quote

“His paintings are reactions not representations … presenting with enviable vigour and dynamism a conspectus of landscape that embraces history, geography, art history, geology and archaeology.

… The paintings are equivalents of the landscape, and this is the landscape [Jeremy Gardiner] walks through, inhabits sporadically in his mind, and takes possession of fully through his imagination.”

Andrew Lambirth, “Vantage Points and Variable Perspectives”, in “Jeremy Gardiner: South by Southwest”, page 29

I’m pulling together a set of paintings for a forthcoming online exhibition with Fife Contemporary that all come from the same source of inspiration: beach pebbles. They range from representational rows of pebbles to abstracted paintings based on pattern and/or colour. I find it hard to write/talk about my reasons for painting these, but it starts with my getting mesmerised by small sections of beach as I wander along, and my enjoyment of pattern and colour.

Painting of a row of beach pebbles
Row of Pebbles I. 50x20cm. Acrylic on canvas.

There’s an array of colours in the geological mix of pebbles on the east coast compared to the fairly uniform black-greys of the volcanic rock of northern Skye. On different occasions my eye is drawn to different pebbles: stripes, circular, broken revealing the ‘inside’, white quartz, orange-and-white, conglomerate, red sandstone. How the water smooths and arranges the pebbles, how it changes with every tide if the pebbles are small, how at times sand hides rocks I know are there.

To try and find the words I need for an artist’s statement I’ve been delving into books on my shelves on artists who paint “non-representational landscapes”, which is what led me to the Monday Motivator quote above. I think “reactions” is a useful description. A painting such as the one below is my reaction-in-paint to the patterns and colours of pebbles. Painted wet-onto-wet so the colours spread and mix with not-entirely predictable nor controllable results, like the sea washing in.

15x15cm, acrylic on wood panel

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