Introducing Penelope Milner, who lives in the Lot, where the environment inspires her and she hopes to inspire and share her enthusiasm with others around her.
Here’s what Penelope has to say….
I left art school in England in 1989 and travelled for a while and then in 1989 I settled in Catus in the Lot to paint. I’ve found the region to be constantly inspiring.
I’m a member of the French Pastel Society (for whom I also do some teaching) and also various associations in Paris, Toulouse and elsewhere. It’s refreshing for me to travel and see other places whilst teaching and exhibiting. However, it seems that I'm increasingly happy to enjoy spending time, at my home, in my studio amidst my family and the Quercy countryside.
Living far from the city creates certain practical difficulties for artists, but increasingly the internet is used as a vehicle for communicating between artists, buyers and art-lovers. Many artists interact with their public in these new ways. There seems an inevitability about this movement towards selling and sharing art on-line.
Over the last few years I’ve been teaching myself to paint on a small scale, initially in response to the charitable/art organisation ‘111 des arts’ (www.les111desarts.org) in Toulouse, where artists produce pictures in a 20x20cm format. Previously I‘d always worked on a large-scale partly as this felt natural but also I’d believed that ‘real’ art must be ‘big’ in order to impress.
From the beginning of this year I've been producing a small painting (almost) everyday which has regenerated my enthusiasm. I can allow myself the freedom to explore far more subjects and I can respond immediately to my environment, depending on the mood, the weather, the light that day. I post these works on my 'Daily Painting' blog. www.dailypainting.penelopemilner.net/en/daily-painting-by-penelope-milner
A few years ago I began teaching regular classes for adults in my studio, drawing, pastel and oil painting. This has been a good experience and I've made many good friends. Mostly my local students are French, with a smattering of English and Dutch, but I hope that wouldn't put off any English speakers. The groups are small and I teach by giving demonstrations as well as much individual tuition. You can find full details of the courses and dates and time on my painting blog.
I’ve found that teaching keeps me stimulated and this feeds into my own personal work. Painting can, after all, be a very solitary business. Sometimes a 'teaching day' comes as a relief allowing me to experience other’s enthusiasm and their pleasure in the painting process. Obviously, as anyone involved in art knows, there are moments of self-doubt and frustration for all of us, but the good humoured atmosphere of a group usually sustains the most insecure of us!
My hope is to help encourage each person's creativity by teaching traditional methods and techniques. Most of the time we draw and paint from life; objects, landscape and even models. Photographs can be a useful tool, but I like to avoid too much reliance on them, copying a photograph is not the same process as interpreting directly from nature.
As well as my regular classes I also teach the occasional themed course during the year. For the 19th and 20th of March, this year, I am preparing a weekend portrait workshop. We’ll be looking at the basics of portrait drawing and also painting using live models.
Then in May I am planning a 2 day 'daily-painting' workshop; explaining how to work in a small-scale and also quickly and directly from nature. If the weather is fine we’ll paint partly outside, but we’ll also look at brush-work and colour-mixing inside, in the studio.
So for anyone living in and around the Lot with a desire to start or continue painting and drawing, maybe Penelope’s classes could be the way forward. A chance to meet people, learn a skill and do something you enjoy is this not what you’ve been promising yourself?