Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Colourful animals will make you think twice

Colourful animals will make you think twice

AN artist is staging an exhibition in a shop window.

Liz Chaderton was all set to use the gallery space at the Caversham Picture Framer but it has been forced to close for four weeks due to the coronavirus lockdown.

But rather than cancelling it altogether, her pictures will be placed in the window of the shop in Church Road.

Liz specialises in watercolour and her pieces focus on “everyday” animals such as cows, cats, foxes and birds.

She said: “My real passion is painting animals and I specialise in those that we tend to take for granted so I would paint cats, not tigers, cows, not water buffalo.

“What really motivates me is helping people to see everyday animals in a new light and my paintings are inspired by what I have actually seen.

“Living so close to the River Thames, I see a lot of birds such as kingfishers, waterfowl and grebes and I find them inspiring.

“My passion may be a hangover from when I was at university where I studied zoology for a while but I love the variety of animals — I think they are amazing.”

Liz, who lives in Hurst, says part of her motivation for her work stems from her environmental beliefs.

She said: “I am also very active environmentally and sign up to the view that we are destroying the planet. By highlighting everyday animals in my work I hope to persuade people to take the environment more seriously. I want my pictures to be able to tell a story.”

For Liz, her work is about having fun as well, which is why she calls her exhibition All Things Bright and Beautiful.

She said: “Using colour is a way of getting across the character of the animal while at the same time getting people to look at it again — people respond to colour. To see a purple cow or a green cat will make you think and raise a bit of a smile.”

Liz creates her watercolours using sketches or photographs she had taken.

She said: “If I went paddle boarding and found a grebe then I would sketch it or I might use photography and then I would think about the colours.

“I use lots of water and big brushes. A lot of watercolourists are quite delicate and use smaller brushes but I like to create lots of energy and have spontaneity in there.

“It’s not about making sure birds have 8,000 feathers, it is about getting the character of the animal, getting to the heart of it.

“I would put the ink down and then spray it with water so you get spot patterns and sometimes I use odd tools to move it around, maybe sprinkle some salt to get flecks or use a stick or even my fingers.

“When that’s dry you add colour on top, which is very diluted. It is like a stained glass window, you can still see the light through it and because it’s transparent, you need lots of layers. I also use gold leaf in some of the pictures.

“Sometimes I can do a painting in half an hour and the paint flows brilliantly and there are other days where you can’t paint like that. If you are building up the layers it also takes time to dry so the painting can evolve over a number of days.”

Liz has been a full-time artist for three years having previously worked as a freelance writer. She has also written her second book Painting Animals in Watercolour, which is published next week.

Liz said: “The challenge remains how to breathe energy into your paintings and make the animals jump off the paper.

“The practical book offers an accessible introduction to sketching animals from life, to try to capture that essence. It gives instruction on how to approach drawing; covers ideas for materials and supplies to step-by-step demonstrations of different watercolour techniques.”

Liz has had to adapt during the pandemic and when she took part in the Henley Arts Trail this autumn she had a tent on her driveway where people could come to see her work.

She said: “These are strange times and you need to adapt. I didn’t think I would ever have a tent in the driveway at home — or stage an exhibition in a shop window — but you can only do what you can.

“At least people will be able to see my pictures and smile and laugh at purple cows and green cats and wonder what’s behind it.”

All Things Bright and Beautiful runs from tomorrow (Saturday) to Christmas Eve at the Caversham Picture Framer, which is running a click and collect facility. Paintings range from 30cm square to 1m square and are priced from £200. Painting Animals in Watercolour costs £9.99.

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