Art on show in Brighton and Hove & East and West Sussex
“I take plenty of photographs when I travel,” says Lesley Jones, as we look at the paintings she has on show at Naked Eye for the Brighton Festival, “but I never look at them when I paint. That would interrupt the flow. My paintings are representations of landscape, but I let myself get carried away with the painting. I daren’t look at the photos, or I would adjust my painting. But I do recognise the landscapes in retrospect.”
Interview: Sussex Artbeat spoke with Lesley Jones at the opening of her group exhibition at Hove’s Naked Eye Gallery on 1 May 2015. Classic artist’s skills underpin the lovely show by Ian Hodgson, Lesley Jones and Patsy McArthur. The show will continue for the duration of the Brighton Festival. By Russell Honeyman.
We are looking at “Across the downs”, which evokes Sussex downland at Seven Sisters. In common with many of Lesley’s works, the sky is finely blended, but the land is made up of dramatic strokes and slashes. I ask if Lesley has made some of these marks with a palette knife.
“I start with a big brush and quickly work down. I waste lot of paint, scraping if off with a palette knife and a sash brush. In the sky, I use big brushes and fan brushes. In the foreground I scoop and scrape, carving out down to the under layers. If it works, fantastic, if not I take it off. I have to imagine I am there.”
I’m attracted to the energetic but frothy, light foam in “Rough Sea, Wild Weather”. Lesley says: “I painted this fairly quickly, I got the feel of the wind sweeping over the headland, never too precise, but I captured the particular feel of the headland on the Dorset coast. I did the surf with a sponge, sticking it on and pulling it off. I have been teaching mixed-media classes for 14 years and using sponging techniques are something I often use in the class with acrylic paint, but this was the first time I’d used a sponge in one of my oil paintings. I couldn’t achieve the right froth with a palette knife and realised that I had the answer in my teaching tool-box.”
Lesley always works wet on wet. “I have to complete all my paintings within three days or the paint will dry,” she says.
As we look at “Taking the Long View”, Lesley reveals a secret of her painting practice. “I have some big rubber blades, paint brushes with rubber blades on the ends. In this painting, I got the big blade out. Pulling with the rubber seemed to flatten the paint layers into each other.”
Apart from her show at Naked Eye, Lesley is showing work at the Flint Gallery in Norfolk and the Hicks Gallery in Wimbledon.