The Artist's Year - By Mary Ann Rogers

Issue 101

Among the questions I regularly get asked is 'which is your favourite painting?' This is an easy answer as it is almost always the one I am currently working on.

The paintings usually are a response to the changing seasons, from the first snowdrops of spring, the sighting of hares in March and April, through lambing time and on until the pinnacle, which for me is the explosion of colour and light in the autumn, followed by the low winter light and bare, windblown trees.

As I write, I have just completed two hare paintings, and a third one is at an exciting point on my drawing board. This leads me directly into another frequently asked question, which is about so-called painter’s block, or ‘do I ever find myself stuck?’. I have never really experienced this, and I have a few tactics to ensure that whenever I return to my painting area, it is with enthusiasm and excitement.

One tip, which I share with budding artists, is to always leave a painting at a point which will be fun to come back to, rather than a blank sheet of paper. Stepping away from a painting when the next step is clear and won’t be too challenging is the key. If one steps away at a tricky point, it will be a daunting proposition to return to it.

Another secret I am willing to share is to work on more than one painting at a time. This particularly applies to watercolour, where the drying process is extremely important. Rather than sit twiddling my thumbs, waiting for a painting to dry before moving onto the the next step, it makes sense to continue the theme, develop the idea and use the colour palette which is already mixed.

Watercolour is a quite magical medium, and some of the most beautiful parts of a painting are where the paint, water and pigment have found their own way, creating quite unexpected alchemy.

Here in the gallery , visitors are coming out of hibernation and enjoying getting out and about. We are situated right on the edge of Northumberland National Park, with its spectacular countryside, just four miles from Bellingham, the historic market town, set on the bank of the North Tyne. The walk up Hareshaw Linn, from Bellingham, is famous for its waterfalls, culminating in one breathtaking waterfall where I plan to take a dip later this year.

The trend for shipping paintings overseas continues, with one off to a fashion designer in Denmark and another to California just this week. A visit from a well known writer/producer with her lovely daughter from the US this month, as part of a bespoke tour of the UK, was very exciting. It was an honour to be part of her visit to the UK, and to have one of my paintings hanging on her wall.

As the lakes and rivers warm up, plans for some swim/hike trips are underway. It would be hard to beat the incredible ‘end-to-end’ swim of Wastwater two summers ago, or the ‘Tadpole Graham’ swims across Crummock Water then Buttermere last year, but training is well underway, and we are enjoying studying maps and reading up on new routes.

Mary Ann Rogers Gallery – West Woodburn, Hexham NE48 2SE.

Open: Tues, Thurs, Fri 10-4 also Sun 2-5 – 07967550772

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