Constable, Brighton, Skying

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John Constable is perhaps most famous for his traditional, Romantic style paintings of the English Countryside. Idyllic landscapes on large canvases that must have been pretty time consuming to paint; such as ‘The Hay Wain’.

So I was surprised to see Brighton Museum’s current exhibition ‘Constable & Brighton’ which features sketches and paintings that are so different in feeling, they could have been made by someone else. Constable and his family lived in Brighton between 1824 and 1828. During his time there he enjoyed sketching and walking on the Sussex Downs, recording the countryside and beaches as he went.

Constable, Seascape Study with Rain Cloud, 1828

His beach paintings in particular have such life to them. Quick, expressive sketches of turbulent skies and stormy seas. Moody colour palettes and rough textures. Some of these beach studies are very small. He worked on location, pinning paper to the lid of his oil paint box, which can also be seen in the Museum.

I love the life and fluidity of these small paintings. They seem much freer than the elaborate works he is famous for. These scenes were perhaps not painted exactly as they looked, but instead how they felt, with exaggerated colours and angry clouds.

john constable_brighton beach

He was particularly fond of painting clouds and once said ‘I have done a good deal of skying’. He would often add notes to the back of his sky work describing the weather conditions, time of day and direction of light.

The term ‘Skying’ immediately reminded me of the album of the same name by British band – The Horrors. I don’t know if there is any relation between the two, but the video for the track ‘Still Life’ features beautiful imagery and the song now flows into my head when I look Constable’s clouds!


Finally, I especially love the paintings that feature little figures on the beach. Often hunched against the wind and breathing in the sea air. Having grown up in Brighton and taken many a windy stroll on the beach linked arm in arm with a friend, I feel an affinity with them and like to imagine that friends have been doing the same throughout history.

John Constable_Seascape Study_Brighton Beach Looking West

The exhibition ‘Constable & Brighton’ is at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until 8th October 2017. Admission is £5.20 for adults, £3 for children and free for Brighton residents.

Opinions are my own. Images are used respectfully but without permission from the following sources (named in the order shown):

Coast Scene with Boat and Stormy Sky – Brighton Museum Website
Seascape Study with Rain Cloud – Wikipedia Commons
Brighton Beach – via That’s How The Light Gets In blog
Seascape Study: Brighton Beach Looking West – Taken from Constable and Brighton Book

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Be Brave, Make your Mark

I gave my first ever talk  this March at an event called Be Brave, Make your Mark run by the Brighton She Says group. With events every few months, She Says aims to bring together like minded ladies from the Digital and Creative industries to chat, share experiences and get inspired.

It really is a nice format, very friendly and laid back. I’ve met several people through these events who have become good friends and even clients! So I was really chuffed when Rifa, the organiser, asked me to design a flyer for the evening and to speak about my career so far. From my experiences as a Games Designer at Littleloud through to my current Freelancing adventures. Plus the big bit before that where I had no idea what I wanted to do or whether or not to go to university and the numerous ups and downs along the way!

The first speaker, Artist Rachel Mortimer, spoke of a trip to a Dementia care home that changed her outlook on everything. She was inspired to set up Engage and Create, a social enterprise that helps people with dementia rediscover forgotten aspects of their lives by using art as a tool to help them open up and reminisce.

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Beth Granter, a passionate activist from the age of 7 told us about her experiences championing causes of great importance to her. Standing up and volunteering when no-one else would and using her understanding of data and marketing to successfully organise protests and make people pay attention.

I’m really impressed by people who find ways to use their skills and passions to help others. I would love to do this with my illustration and definitely feel empowered after the event to find ways to do this. See you at the next She Says!

P.S. Here’s my ‘advice’ slide from the evening. Stuff I try to remember myself but often forget!

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Four Dimensional Cat

I got involved with a nice little project recently to create an E.P. cover and design for local band Four Dimensional Cat. The brief was pretty open, the chaps wanted something eye catching that tied in with the lead song ‘Look Away’. After some tea and chatting we decided that a simple line drawing of an ethereal lady ‘Looking Away’ would be a good direction to go in, not least as we were up against a tight deadline to get the E.P. ready for the launch gig, and quick line drawings are something of a speciality for me. sketches_4dcat_owlstation

I started off by drawing lots of ladies looking away! Quick sketches in different mediums and colours. Some more realistic, others a bit more cartoony . Next I roughly mocked up the best of these into test covers to see which felt right. I  enjoy this stage of a project, testing out lots of different versions quickly. You come across random combinations and have light bulb moments that you couldn’t plan for if you tried.

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I shared these with the band and they unanimously decided on a messy, purple ink sketch of a girl whose face is partially obscured by her hair. In my early concept using this sketch I’d covered up the middle section of her face with a banner bearing the E.P. title, partly to give her some mystery but mostly because I’d screwed up her nose in the drawing! My immediate thought was to redraw her but despite several attempts I couldn’t recapture the looseness of that first line drawing. Which left me no choice, I had to give this poor girl a nose job. Although I regularly make little alterations to my drawings and use the computer to tidy them, It actually felt a bit sinister doing this. I am mostly anti cosmetic surgery, I like the natural look…but there you go! Luckily the operation was a success and here you can see the final outcome. Four Dimensional Cat were happy and the gig was great fun. Do have a listen, they are extremely funky!

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