Bishopstoke artist Lucy Pick
PUBLISHED: 17:02 06 June 2016 | UPDATED: 17:06 06 June 2016
Lucy Pick is changing the way people see abstract art with her colourful boards of oil strokes says Sandra Smith
I hesitate to say this too loudly but sometimes I struggle with abstract art. An excuse for personal gratification, my subconscious whines. Too much inside the head of an artist at the expense of perplexed onlookers who would surely prefer to be entertained or guided, challenged at most.
In more objective moments I admit to harbouring a shamefully unhealthy attitude. Indeed, although I would no more dismiss a style to which I don’t naturally gravitate than avoid exploring the artist’s mindset to uncover the lure and process behind unique compositions, I am aware of the need to dissipate my intolerance.
How fortunate, then, when an opportunity presents itself in the shape of a Sunday afternoon with Lucy Pick. Our discussion, intended to provide an opening for the 42 year old to share her work with the Hampshire public, gradually evolves into a two way collaboration by the end of which my perception of this genre has flipped, enlightening me about the qualities and characteristics of abstraction whilst promoting empathy for an artist as stimulating intellectually as she is artistically.
“There’s an assumption that people don’t get abstract art but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s true,” Lucy suggests. “Because it’s open to interpretation it allows people to have an emotional response, to see different things at different times. If you have a painting in your home that you see daily, you don’t want it to be assertive. Art has to be more than decoration.”
Quietly spoken yet with a sound self assurance, Lucy’s thoughtful communication is concisely delivered.
“A painting is a series of marks which capture the moment. I bring everything about me that day. As I paint I get more and more brave and that’s often when the best marks are made, because my cognitive processes are stepping away. I’m bringing feelings and emotions to it, my history with art and the understanding I have with other artists.”
I love that she’s so passionate about her work, so in tune with the mental process. And I marvel at the frequent use of the words ‘marks’ and ‘it’ confirming this artist is more precious about her calling than the superficiality of vocabulary.
After studying at Portsmouth Lucy attended Wimbledon School of Art but missed the countryside and coast so much she couldn’t wait to return to Hampshire. A career in bookselling followed with painting relegated to her spare time. Then, over a decade ago, came a shift in priorities.
“This advice from my art teacher kept ringing in my ears: ‘Do you want to be a Sunday painter or an artist?’ I always knew this was more than a hobby. It matters that my work is out there, exhibited and sold, in a bigger arena. My first significant exhibition was at the Guildhall in Winchester in 2002. I loved it! It gave me a focus and a push to get a body of work together, the motivation to paint.”
Lucy has exhibited every year since then and her “very English” paintings are regularly displayed in Winchester’s River Cottage Canteen. Visits to London galleries remain commonplace, safe in the knowledge that an overload of emotions from the Capital easily dissipates once home.
Being task led, Lucy confides that she prefers to create paintings with exhibitions in mind though is also keen for other success.
“Art is a strange world. People don’t always feel confident of their own judgement. Competitions matter. I’d like to win or get some sort of recognition from a competition.”
It is at this point I declare my admiration of her palette. Bold, intense colours, matched by courageous brushstrokes fashion a signature style which reflects an inner tenacity.
“I’m famous for being colourful. At an exhibition someone saw me alongside one of my paintings and said it all made sense. My palette is quite vibrant though I don’t want to jar people. Colours sit alongside each other naturally in my eyes.”
I wonder whether diverting from oils is ever a consideration. Her response, that she loves the tactility of the medium, how it matters that the viewer sees the paint and the honesty of not trying to be anything else, confirms why oils are right for her, and reveals the intensity of the relationship between artist, tools and image.
Minute by minute, my awareness of abstraction continues to flourish. It’s all about a desire, if not need, to create conversation, Lucy emphasises, so whether or not people recognise an image doesn’t matter. Indeed, this is an artist who promotes ambiguity, promoting engagement with paintings from an individual perspective rather than being led by the creator.
In a converted and messy garden shed at her Bishopstoke home where numerous pots house dozens of brushes, Lucy increasingly favours board over canvas, the latter prone to “fight the paint”. The starting point of every piece, however, stems from fear of a plain, white background.
“You need to start somewhere so I look at previous paintings around my studio. That first mark is something to bounce off, the opening line in a conversation, but doesn’t necessarily dictate where it goes afterwards. There’s the dynamics of marks against each other. I might make the first mark on two or three boards at one go and they react differently.”
Lucy’s artistic instinct influences every fragment of her art and life. Naturally surrounding herself with creative people fuels her soul and she has a desire for recognition.
Embracing Twitter over the last year or so has resulted in many sales and particularly favours those who are intimidated by galleries where they sense a need to justify their visit.
When we touch on the subject of frames my presumption that these structures are more important to the buyer is gently readjusted as she emphasises their importance in holding a painting together, allowing it to bounce back on itself and keep the eye within the piece.
Talking about commissions brings a less surprising response.
“I’ve done a couple and they’ve been interesting. Someone wanted a title included within a painting. Initially I thought that was fine but when I thought about it, I wasn’t too happy. So I said I’d paint a picture the way I always do and he agreed. I have to be true to what I want to do. My style is evolving as I’m growing up. My paintings are emotional, a snapshot of time. It’s important to use a common language it is an interpretative language and people see reference points. Finding things within a painting gives them a safety net.
“The most satisfying thing is when people own my work. This finishes the process. I’m only doing two thirds, the final bit is someone living with it. I don’t want my art to be self indulgent but there for someone to see.”
The afternoon getting to know Lucy Pick has been an absorbingly informative experience. Abstract paintings aren’t one dimensional images, they are about unseen layers of thought, knowledge and emotion that culminate in distinctive and accessible images, and thanks to this artist I have cultivated a connection with a style of art that had previously eluded me.
See more of Lucy’s work at www.lucypickpainter.tumblr.com
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