What is beauty to you? *Full interview
Beauty is this held thing where hope blossoms and love is effervescent. Often we feel it or understand it, but when we connect with light, with nature, with inspiration. The most beautiful places are those where Nature has been respected, where our human touch has been gentle and our convivial lifestyle soft. Often there is harmony in beauty where you can see elements working together that balance and astound us. The most beautiful people are those that truly love themselves and allow that to shine through in their presence. Beauty can be found in moments, those time warping, expansive moments, where understanding is pure and body, mind and surrounds meet. The beauty I find and seek in the landscape can only be dynamically responded to, translated connected with, my own expectations to be surrendered. Controlling the time, the outcome; and my own presence dominates. Connecting. Being. Understanding that we all, all are one. That this wonderful Gaia includes us. This is the secret. Life’s secret maybe. There is strength in beauty.
Do you have a creative discipline or passion which you dedicate your time to? How does it impact your health and wellbeing?
My whole focus revolves around spending valuable time outside. As a plein air artist my paintings are created and produced out in the elements with Mother Nature often playing a lead role in the pieces and outcomes.
Modern life can still dictate a certain amount of time spent digitally connected and sometimes the weather through the winter can be relentlessly fierce and time spent at the drawing board becomes also important. I have however learnt to lean into those shadows and meet that need to retreat. I have never felt so alive as when painting in the driving rain and head wind or swimming in a storm. Shelter perhaps is a comparable thing. Our bodies really are the most amazing creations and recreations. I am humbled by our capabilities daily. Perhaps the trick is beginning with some sunshine and optimism.
There is nothing more exciting than setting out with a backpack full of paints and a huge roll of canvas, knowing, not knowing where the painting will begin. This physical immersion, this weighing down perhaps, keeps the painting present in my mind from the very first steps and keeps the focus. Here, then I am consciously moving through the space, localising myself, connecting myself, tuning in to the comings and goings of the wildlife, the flora, the fauna and the lay of the land. It’s here as I’m moving through that I let the lead colour settle quietly and begin to take hold... (*full interview with Basho Skincare)
Finding the right spot is always a process and many factors here will come into play, including perhaps my own emotional vulnerability at the time. Sometimes the view is so powerful at the top that it has to be painted, but I always have to be wise to my own physical capabilities, the resilience I am holding. Sometimes resonance is more powerful and it is better to connect softly in more shelter. Knowing though, that the more extreme conditions I have painted and swum in, reminds me that I am capable and removes the doubt in my own strength.
The painting itself, when I am in full flow can feel like the most beautiful dance, and at other times can feel harder, pushing me, nudging me out of my comfortable boundaries. The loose canvas on the ground, I am working within the bounds of my own physical body, the perfect simplicity found in the Vitruvian Man. Me, woman, whatever proportions I have, I hold them with my own human condition. The arch of my arm to all four corners of the canvas. These things balance with the very landscape I am painting.
There is something very calming about the rhythmic sound of the palette knife as I am working. The energy is allowed to build, pause, begin again, each stroke has a different tone and scrape against the ground underneath.
*Full interview with Basho Skincare
I feel so very privileged to have built my life around working the way I do. Often I can be drawn into the false illusion that if I’m not inside working at my desk that I am not ‘working’, yet the real work is there outside for me. Where it is myself, the canvas and the colours translating the Wildscapes I see, perhaps with a swimming reward between painting layers.
There is a certain amount of abundance of life and joy to be found in the natural landscape and it is always changing, it is never the same repeated in any given moment. The light, the tides, the movement; it all changes. Working across time is a totally mesmerising phenomenon, watching the canopies of the trees reach out to touch, the bluebells ripple over the primroses in the spring, the landscape to green then burn off as we see its thirst. Seeing the sea change in clarity and tone, rise and fall; knowing the winds and their transformation of the landscape and of course the light, where it moves and how each plant is tickled by it, reaching out for it.
Ultimately though, the viewpoint is from my eye-line, from my own physical position on the canvas, a stand or a crouch, a movement from side to side can totally shift perspective and understanding. I love this knowing that everything is in flux, in movement, in change and importantly renewal. That just like the trees on the horizon our own bodies go through cycles.
The year round skin swimming is a really amazing thing, and I never feel so lucky as to when I’m painting on the shoreline working to the speed of the tide, moving to finish the piece as it is licked slowly yet determinedly by the volume of water now looking to take hold. The paintings are readied to move, the last strokes go on and the canvas is pulled up beyond the high tide line and I can pause, photograph it and take time for myself to let that water pour over me and cocoon me in a very rewarding swim.
My Mum’s home grown and dried lemon verbena makes the perfect warming herbal in a thermos and warms me up from the inside out. It’s a little nourishing joy much like my oils that helps keep me flowing. The return walk with the backpack, the painting draped around my body, my arms in some way to allow it to dry, to keep the paint from melding into each other. Those distances a little longer, with my arms out to the side like a bird, with this canvas and the backpack, should warm me up. Seeing others respond to my canvases, returning home, with the paintings so brightly and excitedly is so rewarding...
Thank you so very much to the beautiful Basho Skincare, what an evening. I'd be lost without your silky renewing oils made with such love. Thank you. It's wonderful to be a Basho Muse!