Q&A with Anita Langham
Q&A with artist Anita Langham
Exhibiting until the 6th November 2018
Can you tell me a little bit more about your style of painting?
I work mostly in mixed media, where I combine different mediums, e.g. paint, ink, pencil, charcoal and pastels, to achieve the desired effect. I like to start work on a coloured or collaged base, and as the painting progresses, I often add more collage or texture, as well as drawn marks. I like the freedom this process gives: it often results in exciting and unexpected developments, and gives a richness of texture and surface. Then the work is built up layer on layer. It’s always a balancing act between too little control and order, and too much. I strive to keep the freshness, and not to let the painting get too bogged down in detail. It’s all about knowing when to stop…
When did you start painting and what was it that drew you to this particular style?
Since childhood I’ve always loved drawing. My introduction to painting with acrylics came when I completed a Foundation course, where we explored many different materials and techniques. My paintings really took off a few years ago, when I challenged myself to complete a painting a week of the local landscape for a year, (while also holding down two or three day jobs!) I blogged about it on www.onepaintingaweek.com and the support and feedback I received in publicly sharing my art and process encouraged me to continue, and to exhibit and sell my work.
I was drawn to mixed media because I like to use other means, instead of brushes, to apply the paint, e.g. sponges, palette knives, rollers, even sticks. I love drawing on this textured surface with pastels and ink to introduce linear qualities into the painting. And I like it also because it ties in with why I want to make the paintings. I’m trying to capture my feeling about the subject, and the free approach of mixing media allows me to express myself fully, without being limited to one technique.
Cornwall is obviously a great inspiration to you – can you tell us why?
Simply put, I feel this stretch of coast in North Cornwall is my spiritual home. I spent many happy holiday times here as a child and I returned often as an adult, always with sketchbook in hand, trying to capture the essence of the landscape. When my own daughter was grown, I realised that I couldn’t be content with merely holidaying here: I had to live here and draw the landscape on a daily basis. That was over ten years ago, and I’ve been drawing and painting here ever since.
The Cornish landscape is so wondrous: so varied and complex, even within such a small section of coast. Like Joan Eardley, Kyffin Williams and Andy Goldsworthy before me, I delight in what surrounds me and make it the raw material for my art. My favourite thing is to sit out on the cliffs or on a secluded beach with my sketchbook, and try to distil the moment. I use these on-site studies to make my paintings, always trying to recreate that moment of looking, and the way the rocks and the sea and the land stir my soul.
What do you hope people feel when they view your artwork?
I hope they feel a deep recognition: that the painting speaks to them of a favourite place, or a particular day. The landscape for me is a living thing, changing and alive, and so I guess I want them to feel something, rather than it just be a pretty picture. I want them to feel the power of nature and the solidity of rock: to feel the landscape as a presence. Someone once commented that I ‘ paint it like it is’, meaning I capture the real essence of her native land, and I was hugely complimented.
What are your hopes for the future as an artist?
I have so many projects and plans in mind for the future – always! I completed studies for many paintings for my exhibition ‘Beautiful Bude’ at the Castle, Bude, and I still have a wealth of ideas and material, so continuing the series is a definite must. And as I’m currently living in Tintagel, a series of paintings of the Castle and the coast there this winter is being planned. As an artist, I’m interested in seeing how the controversial bridge that’s being built there will change the look of the place, and I’m keen to capture my view of the place, as it is now.
I’d also love to delve into different techniques – printmaking and pastels, and I also yearn to try my hand at sculpting. I’m also a textile artist, creating narrative paintings from cloth and stitch. There just aren’t enough hours in the day …! So my overall wish would be to continue doing what I do, painting and drawing and being creative, and hopefully communicating something along the way.
Who are your heroes of the art world and why?
As mentioned above, artists who paint and draw en plein aire, out in the landscape, speak to me most strongly. So the Welsh artist Kyffin Williams, who uses a limited palette to such great effect to portray his native Wales. And Joan Eardley, for her ability to render the city street children as well as the Scottish coast with such empathy and feeling. Old Masters that I return to again and again are Rembrandt and Van Gogh, for the breath-taking beauty and bravery of their paintings. And I have a special interest in women artists, like Kathe Kollwitz, Paula Rego and Paula Modersohn-Becker, for the obstacles they’ve often had to overcome to fulfil their ambitions.
Among contemporary artists, Kurt Jackson and John Virtue stand out for me, because of their consummate skills as landscape painters and their constant striving to go beyond. That’s something I strive to do in my own painting, always challenging myself to move beyond my comfort zone and try new approaches, subjects and techniques.
A huge thank you to Anita for her exhibition here at The Castle, Bude. To find out more about Anita, and to view more of her work, please visit her website here: http://www.anitalangham.co.uk