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Essence of place

Peter Monaghan seeks inspiration from places ‘with a story to tell’. He reveals the thinking and processes behind his mixed-media paintings incorporating collage

PRACTICAL

Moments of Blue-I, mixed media on wood panel, 153¼×193¼in (40×50cm). In this altogether busy image the challenge was to show that busyness without having complete confusion. The placement of windows and doors, open barns or blank walls is important and they were moved a few times before I settled on a good combination. The juxtaposition of areas of seemingly meaningless collage adds to the overall ‘working farm’ feel. The blue colour was picked up from the collaged Caffè Nero coffee cup

My work is concerned with place; how man-made structures sit in a landscape, especially the vernacular buildings of the Celtic fringes – rusty, tin-roofed old farm buildings or industrial architecture, modest affairs that have stories to tell. I can’t overstate the importance of drawing on site, it’s then that I really look and see properly and feel the elements, the sounds and the smells, even maybe talk with a farmer. I have stacks of old sketchbooks in the studio that I refer back to often. I take photos as well, but it’s through drawing that the analytical process begins – the decisions of what to include and what to leave out. It’s also the drawing that I really refer to when beginning a painting.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our February issue with our extra 16-page guide to art courses and holidays for 2018, including Kevin Scully's article on what to take into consideration and what to pack to make the most of the opportunities offered by a structured course away from home. Our artists also offer plenty of ideas and inspiration for painting a variety of subjects in a broad range of media, including pastel pencil animals, a horse in watercolour, trees and an orchard in pastels, mixed-media collages inspired by old buildings, a photorealist self-portrait in oils and more. In addition, Hazel Soan starts her new three-part series on light and shade in watercolour by explaining how to train your eye to see and interpret tone, Judi Whitton demonstrates how to mix and exploit a wide range of lively greys in your watercolour paintings, while Paul Gadenne shows why and how acrylics can be the key to achieving greater spontaneity in your work. Be inspired and enjoy trying some new ideas under the guidance of our fantastic team of contributing artists!