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.