Lorem Ispum dolor sit amet
The website of the National Acrylic Painters’ Association.  A non-profit making group organised by artists for artists
NAPA
National Acrylic Painters’ Association
Artists Artists Contact Contact Membership Membership Contact Contact
Gerry Halpin
Bolton, Lancashire
“……an artist must think, the eye is not enough, it needs to think as well.” Paul Cezanne Aix-En-Provence,  France (1839 -1906) Arriving at the studio each morning is the beginning of a marvellous and privileged opportunity to paint. An opportunity to make visible those images which have been maturing in my mind from the sketches I previously made after walking both the moors and beaches where I find my sources of inspiration. Working in an interpretive, expressive style, I am a landscape painter who, after rambling about those inspiring places and making on site ‘aide memoire’ sketches, prefers to paint in the studio rather than ‘plein air’. For me, it is fundamental that I engage totally with the landscape, recording those images which first caught my eye and which fired my imagination and then returning to the studio where the equipment I need to complete the painting is to hand. Initial sketches are vitally important to my practice and I can’t emphasise enough how much I rely on these in the studio. They are not detailed drawings but simply record the essence of what I noticed and remind me of that when I start to paint. They avoid unnecessary detail which would distract me from those feelings and sensations first aroused, and integral to that observed moment, ensuring my mind becomes involved in the process of painting beyond pure mechanics.  I wholly agree with Cezanne, the eye is not enough, the mind also needs to ‘see’ which results in personal and therefore unique paintings, paintings which after time and with consistency of approach, have become identified as the work of a particular artist . COASTAL PAINTINGS Prior to Lockdown, when air travel was available, I was always fascinated by looking down on the landscape from an aircraft, be it holiday flights or from occasional trips in a two seater piloted by a friend. I would draw quickly recording the marks revealed from looking down on the landscape, marks geographically natural and those made by man. The results, by not including a horizon, were linear and the necessary drawing speed added to a sense of abstraction. I was aware that they might lean towards ‘pattern’, but the texture and mark making inherent in my approach avoided that kind of stylised result. In her autobiography, ‘Out Of This Century’ Peggy Guggenheim made the observation, when flying home from San Francisco, that “the landscape below was amazing, better than any painting”. I might agree with Guggenheim, but if one adds Cezannes’ notion to the mix, ‘seeing’ through the ‘mind’ as well as the eye and not being tied to the reality of the view, allowing feelings, sensitivity and personal interpretation to play their part, then the resultant painting can be equally amazing. The late Peter Lanyon is a marvellous example of an artist who painted the landscape from above, recording the ‘sensations’ and not the descriptions of  the observed world, from his many glider flights above his home in Cornwall. Since Lockdown, I haven’t flown and relied on my earlier sketches for starting points and, whilst I had always been especially interested in the possibilities presented by the interaction of the sea on the land, I have recently become excited by the shoreline itself. Not from a great height as before but rather from head height if you will. Walking about and looking down, focussing on the flotsam and jetsam left behind by the tide, strands of fishing nets, buoys and seaweed. Disused jetties, rusted breakwaters and twisted groyns along with tumbles of rocks and scatterings of pebbles and shells were all marvellous object of intrigue. These were the objects of my eye, but also the movement of seawater between pools and the shifting of object caused by the ebb and flow of the tide were additional considerations, sensations of the mind prompting a gestural approach to painting. My coastal shoreline paintings therefore are interpretive re- presentations of both objects and sensations and are quite unique, abstract works. Being a restless painter, I love working with acrylics, mainly for their speed of drying which allows me to scratch and scrape with all manner of implements to achieve the rugged textural effect that I have noted. It also allows for overpainting to be achieved quickly and for any changes needing to be made as a result of those important moments of contemplative sitting and looking from the ‘minds eye’, to be added without a long wait. When dry, the surface readily accepts marks of pastel and charcoal which I add in the final stages when working on either canvas or heavy duty watercolour paper.