How To Choose Art Materials

“the richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration”

I am frequently asked how I select my art materials. Oil paints, brushes, canvases, palette knives and even rags are, of course, necessary tools. However, equally important are my surroundings. I always paint outside and the elements are a less tangible material that shapes the painting and contributes to the final image.

Oils In Contemporary Paintings

“some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun”
Pablo Picasso

My experience and training have given me a deep understanding of the way that different painting substances work together. This has led me to exclusively use oils in my practice. Their luminosity, jewel like qualities and their slow drying tendency allow me to manipulate and develop surfaces as I build up layers. I adore how oils have the ability to shape shift from something very transparent and dreamy, akin to a watercolour, through to something that is thickly impasto and much more textural. Oils have a beautiful ability to lend themselves towards the creation of a multitude of surfaces. They have been chosen for centuries by painters for both their depth and longevity.

Masters both past and present inform my own artistic practice. I frequently visit exhibitions in London and beyond to feed my inspiration.

The beginnings of my paintings have a very soft, ethereal quality. I began my career as a watercolourist and traces of these roots are evident in my paintings today. I use heavily diluted oils in the initial layers to create a translucent, atmospheric wash that embraces light. I choose zest-it to accomplish this liquid transparency as in comparison to turps and white spirit it has a much reduced toxicity. It also smells good! Monet used this dilution of colour in his landscapes and helen frankenthaler in her colour soaked expressionism.

The final layers of my paintings, in contrast, are much denser and are reminiscent of artists such as gustav klimt with his use of gold leaf and jackson pollocks thick, abundant application of glosses. Research and immersion into the work of many ground-breaking artists all provide a springboard for my own imagination.

A commitment to excellence is central to my work. I am hugely discerning of the oil paints i select. Michael Harding paints are saturated with intense pigments and are simply a joy to work with. Though phenomenally expensive the tiny tubes contain the exact hues I desire. I also enjoy working with Daler Rowney – georgian oils. It is essential to me that i can create the whole colour wheel. I mix all of my own shades to invent the unique palette necessary for each painting. I feel like an alchemist at this stage of the process. I love this journey of weaving rainbows!

Painting In Nature

“the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.”
Jackson Pollock

As I always work en plein air the whole journey of a painting is an organic process. Nature is central to my practice. The weather very particularly contributes to the creation of my art. Howling gales and gentle breezes influence how the oils land on the canvas. At this stage of the work, when paint flies in the wind, there is a surrender. And risk. I am both a conductor and a dancer as the image reveals itself.

My working environment is rural and unquestionably idyllic. I am surrounded by open fields, flower filled meadows and tumbling, kaleidoscopic hedgerows.

As I am based in the south west it rains fairly regularly at my studio, which is nestled deep in Devons folds. When the skies open droplets make organic watermarks that bring a unique quality to the finished piece. In contrast, in the summertime paint bakes with the heat and causes a crackled reaction that I love. The winter months bring icy mornings that slow the whole creative process down. These short crisp days are much stiller and painting becomes like a meditation.

I am captivated by this relationship to mystery and wildness in my practice.

You can see the effects of working with the elements on my original oil paintings.

Art Brushes

“one really beautiful wrist motion, that is synchronised with your head and heart, and you have it. It looks as if it were born in a minute.”
Helen Frankenthaler

I employ brushes to produce many different results. For instance, fine sable brushes create tiny details. In contrast broad domestic brushes lend to energetic and bolder movements. I use palette knives lavishly to apply thick oils to a smooth consistency. Rags are used to merge soft oils; these are sourced from the rowcroft charity shop where my mother works. I have lost both my best friend and father to cancer so this process brings a direct connection to these supportive institutions.

Painting With Glitter

“in nature, light creates the colour”
Hans Hofmann

I use various grades of glitter in my canvases to embrace and reflect light. These glitters are woven into the very fabric of the painting. Some have small grains of diamond dust, whilst others have rainbow and holographic qualities.

Joy And Painting

“joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
Mother Teresa

Painting for me is an offering. My intention is for a person to stand in front of my work and feel moved. I want to communicate joy and beauty. My art is a celebration of love and makes a stand for all that is good in the world.

Art Inspired By Song Lyrics And Poetry

“if I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
Albert Einstein

“if I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
Charles Darwin

I love music. My husband Mike is a DJ and I’m constantly surrounded by musicians. My first degree was in literature and philosophy and I, therefore, have a profound passion for words. I often name pieces inspired by my favourite songs, lyrics and poems.

Take a look at song inspired prints here:

‘Your Love Is King‘ – Sade.

‘Into the Mystic’ – Van Morrison.

‘Heart of Gold’- Neil Young.

‘Groove Is in The Heart’ – Deee-Lite.

‘Pretty Thing’ – David Bowie.

‘I Believe in Miracles’ – Hot Chocolate.

‘My Girl’ – the Temptations.

Follow Your Heart

“two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference”
Robert Frost

Authenticity means choosing the path that is best for ourselves. Listening to that quiet strong voice within. Daring to be different. I have always followed my heart and I know this to be a powerful force. This, along with a lot of hard work, I believe has been the key to my artistic success.

Five top tips for emerging artists

Remember it’s not about having the most expensive materials but rather having the passion to express yourself.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog, if you would like to learn more about my practice and stay in touch with what i’m up to, sign up to my monthly newsletter.

With love and blessings

– Yvonne