2019 Oceans Apart, 1st series
Towards the end of 2019 after the Corona virus restrictions had eased Nan looked to her studio on the fifth floor of an old textile mill for inspiration for this latest body of work. An entire side of the studio are metal-framed windows from mid-height to ceiling and from the windows that look out across a flat landscape to Manchester on the horizon, and on a clear day, beyond towards Warrington/Merseyside and North Wales.
These paintings developed from an exploration through making, mono-printing from the windows, constructing through collage and playing around with materials.
Nan’s research into Richard Diebenkorn, a mid-century American painter concerned with landscape, light, colour and abstraction on the West Coast Bay area of San Francisco was the starting point for this body of work.
“I am particularly interested in his Ocean Park paintings, which in turn were influenced by Matisse. Diebenkorn’s flattened abstractions offered a way to develop this project and I made a series of paintings responding to the grid-structure of my studio windows; using them as a frame through which to paint the weather, the landscape and the changing light in this Northern location.
As we were moving towards winter, I found I was painting layers with a lot of transparent white, cold hues and thread-line pencil drawing into the oil paint. I deliberately chose square supports, using drawn margins to slice up the space and suggest a frame – but sometime the frame would be compromised and become part of the landscape and sky outside. Hard wooden panels created a smooth and finer surface, and switching to canvas loosened up drawing in paint, richness of colour and the surface texture.
The thread-like marks I drew into the paint at times defied the grid, led it off course to create panels of colour that might be fields, buildings, panes of the window and using thin layers of paint to build up transparency as if looking through the window, but then also looking through the landscape or clouds in the sky.”