Picton Castle and Gardens

Janet Chaplin

Last year I was delighted to exhibit at Picton Castle and Gardens with a large collection of seascapes during the month of August.  As part of the exhibition, I started painting in the gardens to capture the vibrant colours and structures of the unique gardens.  From the Myrtle walk to the Gunnera patches, to the jungle gardens and the benches which punctuate the paths have been my inspiration over the last year.

I paint in a semi abstract style which focuses on contrasts of colours and textures, details and atmosphere.  I like to work from life and take these sketches into the studio.  Some of the paintings were finished in the gardens and some were started in the studio.  I use oils, acrylic, ink, watercolour and salt to create my impressions of the gardens. I really like the way the paint has a life of its own, to me paintings are like a conversation sometimes you agree and other times it’s a struggle to make sense of what is in front of you. The building of surface and texture evokes a tactile experience. A sense of place and my relationship with that place is at the heart of my practise, I work primarily from sketches drawn in situ. These inform my approach but soon emotion and memory guide me.  My inspirations are wide from Seurat’s use of contrasting colours to Kurt Jackson’s layers, David Tress’s use of scratched mark making over fine details and Georgia O’Keeffe epic paintings.  It is an honour to exhibit in the same place as one of my heroes, Graham Sutherland his greens are intense and the way he composes his images have always been a joy for me.

Graduating from Gwent College of Higher Education in Fine Art In the early 90s. I have worked as a Teacher of Art since then, painting and creating when I could. I have always painted using colour as a language to express my thoughts and feelings. In the early years it was the effects of bright contrasting colours which concealed deeper thoughts. During my 40s I used a very muted pallet working over patchwork canvases. I have a multi-disciplined style, soft sculpture, stained glass, bookbinding to name a few. Exhibiting in Italy and showing my work in Wales and beyond, plus excepting commissions have given me the confidence to use media and colour, texture and scale. But it’s my recent painting which really has excited me.