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Lynette Hemmant is one of the decreasing number of artists who generally work en plein air, i.e. outside, behind the easel, from life. A bit of fiddling may happen later, in the studio, but the intention is to try to synthesize a place, a subject, in natural light. This means that the window of time during which a painting can be worked on is limited, resulting in a rolling programme of paintings to be worked on, involving a constant battle with changing weather and light.
There are artists who work very quickly, especially in watercolours, who can produce good (sometimes superficial!) results in a few hours or less. But there is an argument in favour of a more considered approach, taking time to find the “sense” of the place and the subject, sometimes finding that the better painting is in the peripheral vision, less “obvious”. The relationships between the traditional landscape subjects, trees, land, sky and water are very complex, even more so are the many layers of a garden.
Monet knew this, and by painting the same subject many times, he explained his relationship with what he saw in a way that has nothing to do with the photographic.
Any artist who continues to work within the old tradition can become slightly paranoid. The Art World says that “Art” is something else, and that to be concerned with the interpretation of natural forms, and through that interpretation seek mystery and beauty (always subjective, of course) is irrelevant and pointless.
The prevailing power group is always conservative and essentially restrictive. The attitudes are just as fossilised as any previous establishment’s, and the sameness of what is “permitted” is pervasive. The more Art tends towards minimalism, the more space is left for the critic as interpreter. The image is then in danger of becoming secondary to its accompanying texts. The critic has space to exercise his/her creative capacities, and since good critics write well, ironically this can be a creative partnership.
There are an infinite number of books on the history of art and on modern artists, and this is no place to try to develop those arguments. However, this work is not historicist; it is modern painting using modern materials; traditional subjects painted with a contemporary eye.
When it’s too cold or wet to paint outside, work continues in the studio. Still life, drawings, sometimes trying to improve summer paintings which haven’t made the grade. It’s also a time for working on imaginary pieces, which evolve over months, sometimes years.
This dialogue with nature has existed for hundreds of years. Lynette Hemmant believes in its value and hopes that there will always be artists with enough self confidence to leave the herd and continue this tradition.