I am currently among the finalists for the Sunday Times Watercolour competition 2020 with my painting 'Ways to Leave Land' and this work will be on show at the Mall galleries in February 2021. This painting was produced during lockdown when I was fortunate enough to be confined to such a beautiful location. Time not spent teaching enabled me to pay attention to a small area of our harbour and create a series of studies based on the estuary, boats and the boat shelter wall. I have recently become an avid daily swimmer and this has inspired a series of more figurative works about village cold water swimming.
I am as interested in the behaviour of the materials I work with as in the subjects I paint and share the view of the artist Anni Albers who said,
‘Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done – the dictation of materials.’
I studied at Goldsmiths’ College, London and have taught art in schools and adult art centres for over 30 years. I have exhibited in London galleries and art fairs such as the Air Gallery Dover Street and Battersea Art Fair, and venues in Hampshire and Devon. Other art work has combined working as an illustrator (Taste magazine, The Wine Society) with producing my own trompe l'oeil painted furniture, supplying outlets such as the General Trading Company, Sloane Square. This venture led me onto appearing and demonstrating techniques on The Afternoon Show, Channel 4 and a feature in Country Living magazine.
In 2013 I moved to Devon and now run classes in life drawing and watercolour. While working in local authority adult education (Learn Devon) I was asked to take part in a nationwide, government funded, community mental health research programme. This entailed tutoring a Creative Watercolour course, while monitoring the effects of adult art education on mental health and wellbeing. The outcome of data from this nationwide project has been the implementation of the NHS's 'Social Prescribing' initiative where doctors can prescribe local art classes to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Having been taught by a pupil of Cecil Collins, I have been very influenced by his particular ideas and methods and incorporate these into my own drawing courses. The aim is to provide a calm space where risk taking and exploration of techniques and materials are encouraged. It is a process-led approach with a focus on experimenting with materials to discover their specific and unique qualities. I was heartened to hear a student say of her own painting recently, ‘The Naples yellow didn't do what I expected it to, but it seems to have come into its own.’
My work can also be seen on Instagram @lou_inst_art, and on the Devon Artists Network website http://www.devonartistnetwork.co.uk/.
Current students' work on