Friday, September 05, 2008

Shared memories - and a breakthrough!

The Lemon Tree House - now available as a fine art print
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've noticed that quite a few of the people who are responding to my post about collecting art (see Do you collect art? Are you an 'art collector'? ) are indicating that they like to collect original art if they can afford it - but also collect fine art prints if they can't.

I make fine art prints of my work available through my my site at Imagekind - which means I organise the uploads and leave Imagekind to sort out the production and despatch on a 'print on demand' basis. Yesterday I created a new Gardens Gallery which now includes a new fine art print - The Lemon Tree House.

Is this work available as a print? I wanted to highlight this fact partly because it came about because somebody wrote to me and asked if it was available as a giclee print. As a result I found the digital file, uploaded it to Imagekind and it is now available to purchase in a range of sizes and in a choice of finishes.

Memories There's a bit of a story behind this work. I went on a painting holiday to the island of Chios in Greece in early May in 1995 and was based in the village of Volissos - which is supposed to be the birthplace of Homer.

I'd been working in pastels for a while but was enormously busy at ("real") work and travelling all around the UK and consequently I hadn't been able to get into a rhythm of painting in pastels. I guess I just needed to have some dedicated time - and this holiday was it!

My new fine art print is of a particular pastel which was done on my big breakthrough day. In the morning I sat working away at the side of the road leading out of Chios - looking over the sea to Turkey. I think I was passed by two cars, a bicycle and a donkey! I managed to complete a pastel of a bank of spring flowers in the morning (same size - 19.5" x 25.5") - which you can see in this blog post Getting started with soft pastels.

Then in the afternoon, and after a very nice Greek salad lunch, I decided I'd have a go at the Lemon Tree House as I'd already noticed that the afternoon light produced really interesting shadows on the white walls - and I felt like I was 'on a roll' - so why not! This time the road was even quieter, the early May sun was even hotter and the pastel just flowed onto the paper and it was completed in just under 3 hours.

It was really quite amazing as it was in theory incredibly difficult to do - mainly because the supposed straight lines weren't straight at all - nothing was in that ancient hillside village! Plus of course the light and the shadows were changing all the time as I worked. It was one of those curious times when you look at the painting at the end and ask yourself "Did I do that?" - and can't quite believe that you actually did!

I told this story to my client yesterday - and this was her response
This is a wonderful story!! I knew there was something magical about it. I do a lot of traveling myself and when I saw the Lemon Tree House, it reminded me of all those lovely, quaint houses you pass in a quick second as you're driving by the road through nameless villages but a certain something about them imprints their charm indelibly on your mind. The minute I saw your print, it took me right back to those fleeting images that linger bittersweetly in your heart. The ones where you wonder who lives there and what their day is like and wishing you could know them -- the ones that evoke that longing, fleeting feeling that you want to walk through the gate and know those people and be part of their lives but you can't because you're flying past them so quickly and your life is in another world.
I guess the really nice thing about being an artist who works plein air is that you do stop - and stand and stare - and then start sketching or drawing or painting what you see. I can remember this house and that still, hot afternoon in a remote village on a Greek island as if it were yesterday. That's why I work from life and why I work plein air as much as I can.

Would you like a fine art print too? If anybody spots a work on my website which they'd like to buy as a fine art print do let me know and I'll let you know if that's possible. If it is, I can upload an image and then you can check out the options offered by Imagekind and the prices. It's no bother for me and the only issue that ever arises is whether I can locate the top quality image quickly!

You can see more of drawings of houses around the world and their gardens in the Houses and Gardens gallery on my portfolio website.



  1. Lovely work!

    I had a recent plein air with pastels breakthrough that is similar to your story. The similarity is that I returned to the spot several times, and this helped me to "get it".

    Then I remembered Vincent did the same thing - returned to a painting site!

  2. Good point Casey.

    With both the paintings I did that day I'd looked at the subjects quite a few times before I settled down to do them. That really helped with knowing what was the best time of day to tackle them and also what might be the best way to crop the subject.

    For me, it really shows the extra value to be had from working in the same place or working on something which is easy to come back to. Getting to know a place first really helps a lot!

    Plus look at Nina Murdoch (yesterday's post and winner of the Threadneedle Figuarative prize) - nearly all of her paintings are of the same place - a tunnel in Battersea!

  3. Imagekind seems to be having a problem displaying the image at the moment.

    I wrote to them 20 minutes ago and asked for it to be sorted.

  4. Beautiful beautiful!

    Just wondering why can you take a photo and paint from it comfortably at your home?

  5. I'm not sure I understand your question Lily.

    Let me try. Do you mean why don't I take a photograph and then use that to paint at home?

    Well first of all I'd have missed out on a very pleasant experience and a really great memory.

    Second photographs NEVER produce an image which is the same as the one you can see in front of your eyes. There are sound techinical reasons for this - it's nothing to do with anybody's camera!

    Third, I do take photos as well. However I find that it's my sketches - even when they are imperfect - which really take me back to the place and remind me of what it was like. That's because sketching makes me observe and look very closely at a scene in a way which I'd not do if I was just taking a photograph.

    I find the most difficult drawings I produce are the ones produced when I'm relying on the photograph for reference more then I would like. Those are very hard.

    By way of contrast, I find drawing in front of the subject to be much easier - you see more, you 'get' how it works much quicker, you see the subtleties and the magic more easily.

    Everybody can do it - just like everybody can draw. It's not difficult. It's only a question of practice - and maybe a bit of help from somebody who does it all the time! ;)

  6. that is absolutely stunning. I love how you completed it on site. I can always tell whether something was done from a photo or not, and not that anything is wrong with using that reference... It's just that something painted on site is so refreshing, spontaneous and wonderful. I love the energy in this piece.

  7. Hi Katherine,
    That's exactly my question that you've answered perfectly. Thanks.


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