Early signs of summer

Signs of Summer by Molly GarnierThe painting shown here is Signs of Summer, and depicts a scene of rural England I’m instantly drawn to, with a familiarity that’s irresistible. I love the sense of energy in it – you can feel the breeze racing the clouds along and casting their shadows fleetingly over the sunlit land.

For Molly Garnier, the artist of this painting, capturing views like this is second-nature. “I loved art from a very young age, especially painting,” she says. “It was my favourite subject at school and I was extremely lucky to have a very good art department and access to all materials at school.”

She vividly recalls going to see some huge Jenny Saville paintings when she was 17. “I remember thinking that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to create paintings that had an impact and struck a chord with people’s emotions and thoughts.”

Molly graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, where her primary subject was painting the female nude.

“It wasn’t until five years later when I moved back to Norfolk with my husband that I started painting the landscape,” she says. “I remember being totally amazed by the huge skies that Norfolk has and the magical beauty on my doorstep. I love trying to recreate an atmosphere and reflect how it feels to be in that place at that chosen time.”

Long country and coastline walks are an essential part of this process. “I usually take my camera and sketch book,” she says. “I try to add small pockets of detail and sharp focus and play with the ethereal quality of the light.”

Her preferred material is oil colour. “I use some large nylon brushes and then small fine line brushes for detail,” she says. “I always paint on wood that I have primed. I love the very fine grain of the wood and the way you can see brushstrokes and rub back.”

Marsh Light by Molly Garnier

Marsh Light by Molly Garnier

She continues to paint nudes as well. “I did life drawing at Art College and studied the masters such as Caravaggio and Degas,” she says. “I went on to do my degree show about the impression of voyeurism and looking upon an intimate nude scene. I love the skin tones and the way the skin can seem to glow.”

Molly says that unless she picks up a paintbrush during a day, she doesn’t feel quite herself. “Painting makes me feel complete – it’s my therapy,” she explains. “I paint a lot of commissions, mainly of a chosen landscape that’s personal to the client and I really love seeing people’s faces when they receive the painting.”

She adds: “I’ve been extremely lucky to exhibit in over 80 exhibitions and sell a vast number of works that hang in people’s houses. It makes me very happy to know that my work has created an impression on someone.”

Tide Walker by Molly Garnier

Tide Walker by Molly Garnier

Molly exhibits regularly at Lime Tree Galleries in Bristol and Long Melford. She’s represented on the online Affordable Art Fair site, and is  an artist at The Gallery in Norwich and Cromer.

Find out more at mollygarnier.co.uk.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Savage landscapes with Peter Hill

Soft Autumn Glow by Peter Hill

Soft Autumn Glow by Peter Hill

Paths disappear into forests, lakes reflect a moment’s stillness and windswept skies rampage over landscapes in the work of Peter Hill. His views are vast, and wild – even the cityscapes hint at a savagery that’s both intriguing and curiously appealing.

New York New York by Peter Hill

New York New York by Peter Hill

It’s clear this is work that expects to be seen – and to stop onlookers in their tracks. Peter began exhibiting his paintings early on. “ I have always had a desire to create and paint, and during my time at Sheffield college I started exhibiting work at a local restaurant, where I had a part time job,” he recalls. “I started selling my work from there and as I became less inspired by the art course I made more enquiries to art galleries both locally and in the Lake District, a place I love and have been visiting for years.”

Peter’s work continued to sell, and a few unfortunate experiences only sharpened his resolve to make his name through art. “One gallery I was exhibiting in went bust and with it I lost several pieces,” he says. “Although it saddened we at the time it didn’t deter me, I continued to paint, exhibit and sell my work.”

Months later during a family walk near Calver in the Peak District, Peter spotted a ‘To Let’ sign “on a beautiful building near Calver Mill and thought that would make an excellent gallery and studio, so I made an enquiry.”

The Peter Hill Fine Art Calver Mill gallery opened in 2004, closely followed by the PHFA Kentmere Gallery in 2005. The success of these two galleries lead Peter to invest in what is now the largest of the three sites, PHFA Sheffield Gallery with indoor /outdoor studio complete with an Andalusian Courtyard. “The Gallery was opened by local rock musician Rick Savage of Def Leppard in 2008.”

Timeless by Peter Hill won Best in Show at the 10th anniversary Windsor Art Fair

Timeless by Peter Hill won Best in Show at the 10th anniversary Windsor Art Fair

The desire to paint and create remains as strong as ever. “The excitement I feel every time I paint inspires me to want to create another piece,” he explains. “I developed my artistic style through lots of happy accidents and experimentation and most importantly being prepared to take risks.”While Peter looks at everything with a painter’s eye (“it never gets turned off!”), he admits to having a particular passion nature, especially trees.

“It is their sculptural quality – they are just all like works of art in their own right. I feel entering a forest is akin to entering or discovering a place or building for the very first time. I never tire of viewing landscapes, whether for the first time or the 1000thtime.”

Autumn Waters by Peter Hill

Autumn Waters by Peter Hill

Peter relishes both the public and private elements of being an artist. “I love the reaction to my paintings from the people who love them, and getting lost in the moment of creation and the subsequent journey which each piece takes me on.”

You can visit Peter’s three galleries in Sheffield, the Peak District and Lake District, as well as at art shows across the UK. Find details here www.peterhillfineart.co.uk/pages/visit-us

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’m also happy to receive reviews of books, exhibitions, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com.

Capturing moods with Rod Craig

Here Comes The Sun cr Rod Craig

Here Comes The Sun © Rod Craig

Rod Craig’s landscapes are imbued with atmosphere so that even the most tranquil scene has a sense of brooding energy about it. Dawn light slants through winter trees, clouds and rain streak the sky, figures stride, intent on their destination. Rod’s artwork offers an examination both of the world and our place in it, and I find it really beautiful.

The End of Love cr Rod Craig

The End of Love © Rod Craig

Rod can’t recall a time when art wasn’t his main preoccupation. “I was always drawing as a child, right through my school days until I attended Bristol College of Art and Design. From that point on art and design has been my life and at no stage have I considered any alternative career!”

Following more than 30 years running a successful graphic design company, Rod has been painting full time for the last five year.

Connemara Bucks cr Rod Craig

Connemara Bucks © Rod Craig

“Most of my work is landscape based and produced from memories,” he says. “Some places I’ve visited have left me with such strong visual images in my head that I will revisit the subject many times. This was the case with the many paintings I’ve done inspired by a visit to Connemara on the west coast of Ireland, and the urban landscapes produced after an extended stay in New York.”

Madrid Blue cr Rod Craig

Madrid Blue © Rod Craig

Rod occasionally use a photographic reference as the starting point for the painting “but the final image will usually change dramatically as it develops.”

Rod explains that rather than aiming to produce a ‘likeness’, he’s interested in “capturing the emotions triggered by a place. I love the drama of a storm or the suggestion of birds across the night sky. Watercolour is a fantastic medium for this style of painting with its fluidity and spontaneity. It’s a very exciting way of exploring visual techniques and feelings.”

Rod recognises how lucky he is to be able to spend his days doing what he loves. “It’s a real privilege. I believe that if I paint what moves me, I will produce better, more honest work. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling way of spending my time than travelling to beautiful places, allowing them to fire my imagination and exhibiting the finished results!”

You can see more of Rod’s work at The Paragon Gallery in Cheltenham, and at two group exhibitions coming up in November 2015: ‘A Celebration of Trees’ at Real Wood Gallery, Woodstock, and ‘Winter Landcapes’ at O3 Gallery, Oxford.

Visit Rod’s website at www.rodcraig.com and follow him on Twitter @rodcraigartist.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’m also happy to receive reviews of books, exhibitions, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com.