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Eileen Cooper OBE RA and The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Eileen Cooper gives Susie Hodge an insight into what drives her work and her approach to coordinating this year’s Summer Exhibition


Summer Breeze, 2016, woodblock print, 15×101⁄2in (38×26.5cm). You can almost feel the warmth on your skin from this image of a figure swinging gently in the breeze. As well as her pose and tranquil expression, the shadows on the sand tell us the story of the tropical surroundings beyond the picture. Overall, the graphic, linear design and limited palette creates a sense of immediacy

At a time when figurative painting was unfashionable, Eileen Cooper bucked the trend and drew figures from life, blended with her fertile imagination. She explores the female perspective with bold, linear compositions in paint and print, focusing on themes such as the dynamics of family relationships, female sexuality, fertility, motherhood, creativity and life and death. Although these themes can be seen as autobiographical, they are also universal and timeless. Eileen explains: ‘My work has always been creative rather than narrative, more allegorical than anecdotal. I explore transitions in life: such as from daughter to mother, girlhood to womanhood, lover to wife.’

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About The Artist

Welcome to our summer issue packed with ideas and tips for painting outside, including Paul Weaver's demonstration showing how to capture the spirit of the seaside in watercolour. Watercolourists will also love Paul Talbot-Greaves' focus on how to use neutral and dark colours to add impact to your paintings, Julie Collins' advice on using ultramarine blue, and our review of the fabulous exhibition of John Singer Sargent's watercolours at Dulwich Picture Gallery. There are inspirational features on mastering perspective, capturing a likeness of a family member in oils, painting the figure alla prima, how to create movement in wildlife paintings in acrylics, and why you should consider the use of digital technology to support your traditional painting methods. Our artists also share their views on the new Winsor & Newton professional canvases and Jaxell's extra fine pastels, while our cover artist, Eileen Cooper OBE, RA talks about her own work, as well as the organisation and decision making behind this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. All this and much more to inspire a summer of successful drawing and painting!