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Work in Progress

"I kept feeling a tug towards the heart of the town..."
21/07/2021
On moving back to Keighley, I was captivated by the landscape and instinctively wanted to paint. Keighley is surrounded by dramatic Pennine hills, which frame changeable weather, nestling industrial (often derelict) buildings, and row upon row of terraced houses all moving with the contours of the land. However I kept feeling a tug towards the heart of the town.

Following on from my project, Worth - Challenging Negative Thoughts and with the added protection of my Covid jabs, I decided to head into the busy centre of the town and start to explore what was inspiring me.

I started by instinctively making marks, ignoring negative thoughts and focussing on just enjoying and being in the moment. This set me off on the right foot - a celebration of marks and colours!
I started by instinctively making marks, ignoring negative thoughts and focussing on just enjoying and being in the moment. This set me off on the right foot - a celebration of marks and colours!
 



I started to sketch out buildings over the first layers of paint. To me these are iconic aspects of Keighley, adding to it's feel and character.
I started to sketch out buildings over the first layers of paint. To me these are iconic aspects of Keighley, adding to it's feel and character.
 
Sketches of buildings over washes of bright paint - 2
 


...Building upon these sketches to form more solid structures.

Building upon these sketches to form more solid structures amongst my initial marks and colours.
 


Once I was able to properly explore this new path, the intricate maze of houses, shops, industrial buildings and old factories were so invigorating, I never felt the stress or nerves I had assumed I would feel. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is teaching me, that if I put ingrained negative thoughts to one side, and focus on enjoying the moment, the more I start to adapt new ways of working, keeping open minded to where my practice takes me.

I put up motivational mantra's around my studio!
I put up motivational mantra's around my studio!
 


I challenged myself to work fast. I challenged myself to start off abstract. I challenged myself to combine different techniques I hadn't tried before. It's funny that I originally thought to try cold wax as I thought it would help loosen me up - an unpredictable substance that lends itself to expressive organic marks. However I really enjoyed finding ways in which I could create neat hard lines and smooth surfaces! This allowed me to build into my work contrast in textures, which I feel reflects the mix of the hard, concrete with the dynamic nature.

Building up thicker layers.
 
rooftops
 


The more I explored, the more the unique juxtaposition of urban and rural, nature and human-made infrastructure, grabbed me. I had always loved how, whatever direction you looked in, when in Keighley, you could always see hills and trees. I wasn't sure however, if I over romanticised this idea. Finding places to sit quietly, especially high up places such as the roof of the multi-story car park for the Airedale Shopping Centre, and just looking and studying what was in front of me, confirmed this for me. There is so much green!

And the hills around me came back into my work once more.

You can always see hills in Keighley
You can always see hills in Keighley
 


I'm currently developing a linked set of nine paintings, that will sit alongside each other to create a panoramic piece inspired by the centre of Keighley. These will be available alongside other recent paintings to view, at our forthcoming exhibition, Worth, from the 23rd September to 16th October ( The Keighley Creative Space). I will be exhibiting with my good friend and fellow artist Letty McHugh. More info to follow.