Lynne Cartlidge is more comfortable painting still life and flower studies in her studio, where she can control her composition and to a degree, her lighting. Her equipment and paints are at hand, it’s convenient, dry and warm. But en plein air painting brings a new set of criteria to the process of painting. It’s unpredictable from the lighting to the weather conditions to people interrupting your flow to not having brought a particular colour paint you wanted. As an artist, your response to the different stimuli can be very interesting especially if the work reflects that.
Chatting to Lynne about her most recent body of work, all en plein air, she says, “I don’t think of myself as a plein air painter at all and I really admire plein air painters. As a still life painter, I find it necessary to think in terms of plains and space relationships and I do the same thing when I’m out. What I find exciting when I’m out is that I’ve got more space to play with. I’m drawn quite a lot to views where there’s a perspective down a street for instance… the houses… I don’t know why but I find that interesting. But it’s the same process where you’re relating aspects within the picture plane, playing with the space.”
She goes on to say:
“…a painting is a happening, and you’re directing it while at the same time you’re responding to what is happening and there’s a certain amount of stuff that’s unexpected. I don’t consciously try to create a certain type of mark, but if I make a mark that I’m not happy with and it sort of throws the painting out of gear, then the wonder of oil painting is that you scrape it off and have another shot.”
Like many artists, Lynne is fascinated with light. Autumnal light is very yellow and becomes so as the sun starts to pull away from the earth and the light has further to travel. This yellow light affects all colour, making it warmer and richer.
Another interesting thing occurs over the autumn months. Because of the tilt of the earth on its axis in relation to the earth’s orbit, the sun’s arc across the sky during our day appears to drop. This is particularly noticeable in the early morning and late evening when shadows become longer. A row of trees or houses will cast a row of long shadows, creating pattern and rhythm that becomes visually exciting. You can see this particularly in Lynne’s paintings, Autumn Cast Shadows and Autumn Shadows on an Edwardian Street.
Lynne says, “Light just brings everything to life… my studio faces south west, I’m used to a lot of changes in the light. When I’m outside I’ve noticed it’s really nice being under the sky because you’ve got this totally different view of the palette… the paintings that we’ve got here are done in the autumn with the light coming through at a low angle and I think that’s my favourite lighting conditions.”
I smile because I agree with her. I love autumn and I now realise it’s because I love the light. Lynne finishes by saying quite profoundly of art, “You’re creating something… a statement, a metaphor. It’s like a piece of visual poetry…”