November 2017 Meeting
"Every Picture Tells A Story"
 
In a wide-ranging and discursive talk, Ray Balkwill entertained and educated us with anecdotes of painting in challenging conditions, information on the various media he uses, photos and paintings of favoured locations in Cornwall and elsewhere, the social history of boatyard workers (particularly at his beloved Camperdown Creek) and the diverse histories of several of the boats that ended their days as beautiful neglected hulks in the Exe Estuary. We also learned a little of his own ancestry and saw some of his experimental assemblages from weathered and rusted boat-parts plus, of course, his paintings capturing the changing moods of light and sky, estuarial waters and boats.
Ray himself writes:
'Every picture tells a story', so the adage goes, and in my illustrated talk I tell the stories behind some the paintings created over the past three decades.
I am a strong advocate of painting en plein air, so many of the tales recount humorous experiences encountered whilst painting on location, both in the UK and abroad. Living as I do on the coast at Exmouth, it is little wonder that the wide open spaces of sea, estuary and sky have been the mainspring of my art.
I love painting old character wooden boats and boat sheds, in particular those on my beloved Exe Estuary, at Camperdown Creek in Exmouth. They all have such fascinating stories to tell.
I believe art is not merely made by description alone and it isn't enough just to go to a place and set up an easel. For the full understanding of a place painters must submerge themselves in it, making it a multi-sensory experience. This also means identifying with it, getting 'under the skin' of the place as it were, learning something of its people and history.
For a professional artist constant experimentation to keep the work fresh is vital  A recent project has involved finding various found material washed up on the foreshore in order to make mixed media assemblages from them. 
Otter Vale Art Society
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