The latest exhibition to bedeck the walls of The Gallery at The Witham, Wondrous Watercolours, opened to rapturous applause last Thursday, and has been bringing light and delight to visitors ever since.
Wondrous Watercolours is an exhibition of bright and beautiful paintings by watercolourists Michael Farmer, Jenny Ulyatt, and Sarah Hill, all of whom take their inspiration from the colour, light and shape that occur naturally around them. Admission to the exhibition is free, and the exhibition is open to the public 10am to 4pm Tuesdays to Saturdays until Saturday 22 April 2017. All work in the exhibition is for sale.
Michael Farmer is a watercolourist whose work is inspired by rural, regional landscapes. Michael lives and works in Ainderby Steeple, just outside Northallerton, the county town of North Yorkshire; he shares his creative workspace, Ainderby Steeple Studios, with his step-daughter, Jenny Ulyatt, and friend, Sarah Hill, who both live in Durham.
Whilst elusive online, Michael has exhibited extensively over the years, and is a highly regarded artist with a wide number of collectors across the region. Sarah Hill and Jenny Ulyatt both come from science backgrounds, but started painting a few years ago under the tutelage of Michael Farmer, a retired architect who first developed his practice as a watercolourist adding colour to his technical, architectural drawings. Upon retirement, Michael turned his attentions away from the “drawing board”, and towards paper and palette developing his artistic practice whilst incorporating his impressive draftsmanship, and keen eye for detail, within his paintings.
Jenny, and in turn Sarah, were both enamoured by the masterful, loose, and romantic skies in Michael’s paintings. Now established artists, and arts workshop facilitators, in their own right, it is easy to see Michael’s influence on Jenny and Sarah’s work. All three artists employ a combination of expressive, suggestive brushstrokes in addition to fine detail. Their works are all beautifully balanced, in terms of composition; but perhaps most striking for artists working in watercolour, is the similarly bold, confident palette employed by each of these three, accomplished artists.
Taking the viewer by surprise, Jenny and Sarah playfully push the boundaries of this traditional medium employing fascinating techniques to great effect. Look closely at some of the works to observe delicate spotting where the painterly pigment has been lifted off the paper have been soaked up by the rock salt crystals that the artists have flecked on to their works. Similarly, Jenny has printed with bubble-wrap to add texture to some of the surfaces in her paintings; she comments, “As an artist I think of the creative painting process as being like cooking – my ingredients include sketches, photographs, memories of places, and my imagination. I find my paintings work best when these elements combine to make something that is more interesting, surprising and lively than the individual parts I started with. Like the tastiest things I have cooked, there is no recipe to follow to enable me to repeat a success. But as all cooks know, the pleasure is not in repeating the last recipe, but in coming up with the next, and in this way I hope I continue to produce new and interesting work."
Initially approaching her creative practice from an arts therapy perspective, Sarah comments on how her work has developed,
“I am a fairly new artist and began experimenting with Watercolour painting about three years ago when I developed chronic asthma. I found that the focus created by painting was both healing and relaxing. Having spent a period of time in poor health I now find that I see a great deal of beauty in simple, every-day things. I am most inspired by the little moments of colour, light and shape that occur naturally all around me and I try to represent that as best I can. I absolutely love the colours, clarity, patterns and fluidity that are so integral to watercolour painting. I try to keep things loose and fresh to allow the watercolour paints to express themselves and create the painting for me! I hope that my art is as calming for others as it has been for me."
In addition to one of Sarah's sketchbooks revealing the process behind her paintings, and the original watercolour paintings for sale in this exhibition, Sarah and Jenny also have limited edition prints and cards of their original work for sale. All purchases should be made through the Shop at The Witham.
by Sarah Mayhew Craddock
Visual Arts Coordinator