Artist profile - Lindsey Cole
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 March 2020
Having begun her artistic career painting in front of Poole Pottery visitors, Ringwood’s Lindsey Cole wasn’t intimidated by a national televised art competition.
Imagine an apprenticeship with one of the country's most familiar brands where, having learned the skills of the trade, you demonstrate traditional ceramic hand painting skills to the public. If that was your first job offer, would your reaction veer towards gratitude or trepidation? For Lindsey Cole this early performance opportunity set a trend which continues to influence both her professional and personal life.
'When I left school I didn't have the qualifications to go to university but I was lucky to get a job with Poole Pottery,' says the 57-year-old. 'I stayed on and off until 1996 while my own art was always there in the background. I also play double bass with a bluegrass band.'
Not only do Lindsey's subjects reflect the artist's appreciation of nature, but they portray movement via the most creative brushstrokes. 'I'm always trying to challenge myself, to learn something new. Things like wanting to conquer speed or movement is where animals come in, exploring what the paint does, experimenting.' She makes the process sound effortless. When I insist her basic skill set must be superior, her response is down to earth. 'You have to have an eye to begin with and the imagination to push the paint, know what it's going to do, but making mistakes is a big, big learning curve. You can take the positives from a painting that's gone wrong and push them into the next one. Accidents always turn out to be happy accidents.'
Preferring the rigidity of board, the painting surface is first prepared with gesso primer using a stiff brush. To the resulting textural base thick layers of acrylic are added which, once dry, are scraped back using blunt blades, palette knives and anything else to hand. With an appreciation of watercolours and oils, Lindsey insists: 'There are no rules as long as you know what each medium is capable of. You can't put acrylic over oil, it will just peel off, but you can do it the other way round.' Lindsey's muted tones seamlessly flow into each other, something she can't explain. 'It just happens,' she insists. But she is aware of a degree of abstraction in her subjects? 'I'm glad you said that. This is another learning curve, another journey I'm on at the moment. I'd still like to go that little bit further but also want the subject to be what it is.'
At her Ringwood home, a few minutes' walk from forests and within easy driving distance of the coast, a log cabin style garden studio doubles as a venue for workshops and exhibitions. 'I'm a messy painter and love my space. Here I can shut the door on the outside world, get lost in time, early morning or late at night. My partner never expects dinner at a certain time!'
I'm readily distracted by thick sketchbooks full of 'rubbish, valuable rubbish' and their informative value even when a finished painting 'comes out nothing like the original.'
To enter Sky Arts' Landscape Artist of the Year is to expose your skills and techniques not only to highly respected judges, but millions of viewers. There's time limitations and members of the public watching over your shoulder, none of which floored Lindsey. 'In 2016 I submitted a few current images and, although not chosen as a main artist, I had the opportunity to go through as one of 50 Wild Cards. Sky give you a list of locations and I went to Worm's Head on the Gower Peninsula [near Swansea]. Despite the wind and rain I loved every minute and learned so much from the experience.' So there was no hint of intimidation, feeling daunted? 'No, it was exciting and I was overjoyed to be the Wild Card winner. At Poole Pottery we had to paint in front of tourists and from my music I've learned to perform in front of people.'
Although Lindsey has yet to progress to the final stages of the competition, her determination is relentless, declaring: 'I'll go for it again in 2020.'
Lindsey's striking use of colour, ability to blend tones, and inject movement are captivating. And I'm even more in awe because she consciously has one eye on the commercial market. 'The process is as fulfilling as ever,' she states. 'I paint what I want, what inspires me, but it's also nice to be able to sell. And I'd like to get into more galleries.' With her background, determination and artistic skill, this engaging, talented artist is bound to fulfil her ambitions.