Inspired by Porto

Today I am sharing a selection of paintings inspired by Porto.

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Porto inspired paintings current works in progress in my shed – image ©Mary Price 2016

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Current work in progress  – fiesta colours bursting into the canvas ©Mary Price 2016

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Fiesta inspired work in progress ©Mary Price 2016

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Detail from one of my Porto window paintings ©Mary Price 2016

Curiouser and curiouser - secret lives lived ©Mary Price2016

Curiouser and curiouser – secret lives lived
©Mary Price2016

 

Peering into the windows and doorways of Porto

This series was inspired by a recent trip to Porto in Portugal. The city is full of secret doorways, ancient windows and crumbling buildings peeling with paint and graffitied, with the abandoned nestled up against the very much lived in.

This is a special place and the paintings below are based on memory. I did not draw before making these paintings – I simply wandered, took photographs and absorbed the essence of the place. Returning to the studio I painted what I had seen – none of these windows exist anywhere other than on these canvases. But they have their origin in memory and are a response to my experience of this magical city.

Porto window

Porto window ©Mary Price 2015

Porto window

Porto window ©Mary Price 2015

Cat looking in

Cat looking in ©Mary Price 2015

Porto doorway ©Mary Price 2015

How memory becomes a painting

Details from ‘Memories of Sardinia’ ©Mary Price 2015

Memory has always played an important part in my choice of imagery. I love to travel and always take sketch and notebooks  with me. Moleskine notebooks and little postcard sketchbooks are portable and make it easy to do quick sketches without weighting down bags. I also use the brushes and paper 53 drawing apps on my iPad.

Moleskine sketchbook – View from the terrace at Porto Taverna – Sardinia ©Mary Price 2015

Little sketches fuel later paintings often subconsciously. Sketching allows real engagement with imagery, you are just there with your materials responding to something in front of you. 

 

paper 53 app drawing of ancient stone wall in Menorca ©Mary Price 2015

Drawings do not have to be photographic or representative in realistic detail to be useful. Sometimes the way your hand moves in response to what you are drawing or the marks made to represent something inform the way you later paint as those movements and marks repeat in memory.

view acros the lagoon at Porto Taverna – Sardinia

Photographs are useful too. Here I have responded to the sunlight on an old stone wall. Not a great photo in terms of composition but the way these old walls make me feel is what this is all about. The way the stones are crushed up against each other and covered with growth integrating  the human made with nature.

The painting below shows the first few layers. I have reviewed an unloved painting and used the base of marks as a  jumping off point. It is easy to see here how memory is kicking in with shapes of rocks emerging against a backdrop of cerulean and emerald sea.

early layers of ‘Memories of Sardinia’ ©Mary Price 2015

Reviewing some photos from several trips this year I have been fascinated by the history residing in the ancient stone walls that weave across the Mediterranean islands of Menorca, Majorca and Sardinia. 

Dry stone walls on the walk to Cala Deia in Majorca

Dry stone walls near Valdemossa – Majorca

Hard dry stoney land that has been cleared and segmented by human made walls covering hundreds if not thousands of miles. The walls often re absorbed by their natural landscape of hardy scrubby plants like cacti and sun burned grasses, aromatic herbs like wild fennel and rosemary, colour bursts of vermillion, lemon and orange from oleander and juicy citrus trees and shade cast by olive groves.

cacti plant – Sardinia


These shapes, colours and sense of place fill the memory that stirs the emotion that inspires me to paint. There is so much inspiration in the contours of the snuggled rocks, the bursts of colour and the variation of plant shapes.

Memories of Sardinia 2015 ©Mary Price 2015

Memories of a landscape at sunset when the world is set alight in luscious pink and orange – this inspires the Fauvist colour that I love to emulate.

New painting from old

Sometimes looking at an old painting that you never really liked is a great opportunity to reinvent and start afresh without having to confront the scary blank canvas.

©Mary Price 2015


I had this garden painting hanging on the wall for ages but had never really felt that it was finished or ‘resolved’ with its two clumsy white spots, an excuse for introducing some tonality to the blue meadow inspired imagery.

©Mary Price 2015


So I took it into the shed and started to paint over it in warm contrasting colours to see what I could do to refresh and renew and make something beautiful out of something I had fallen out of love with.

Sticking with the intuitive process that has dominated my art this year especially, I kept at it, adding colours and marks with varying tools to arrive at a stage where the original painting had not disappeared but provided a backdrop for some new exciting things to emerge and start happening.

©Mary Price 2015


Slowly I began to see the outline of a face suggested in the marks and I worked with this. 

©Mary Price 2015


The meadow of the original painting was still there in essence so I started to think about how I could incorporate the two elements to create a figure immersed in landscape. The headdress morphed several times, at one point a bird was flying out of it, but I preferred the organic flowery, feathery, meadow suggestions and brought these kinds of imagery into sharper focus. 

©Mary Price 2015


I’m learning the power of tonal depth, something that my colourful offerings have lacked so much in the past. Flora Bowley showed me how what she calls value contrast adds to the overall cohesiveness of a painting. For this painting deepening the outline of the figure and introducing translucence to the dress has I think brought some tonal contrast to colour explosion that is her headdress.

©Mary Price 2015


My subliminal inspiration for this painting is a vintage 1970s print bought in a charity shop, some photos that I took on a trip to Bali about 30 years ago and drawings of meadows in Branscombe. I love how different aspects of life and memory can impact on how a painting becomes what it is. There are also shades of inspiration from Girl with a pearl earring by Vermeer.

 

 

I will be getting prints done of this painting for sale in my Etsy shop in the near future.

Girl with meadow headdress – mixed media on canvas

Woman with Meadow Head dress 2015 ©Mary Price 2015