Janine Baldwin’s landscapes are full of exploration. With each work she embarks on an intuitive journey through mark making and colour. Her primary source of inspiration is the north Yorkshire coast where she lives and works. Drawing is key to her practice. It is through drawing that she gains further understanding of what inspires her and how she can further explore these aspects of the subject in other media, including collage, oil paint, oil sticks and monoprint. In 2015 Janine won the Haworth Prize at the New English Art Club exhibition, which is awarded annually to a landscape artist based in the North of England. We wanted to find out more about Janine’s very expressive work.
Lisa: Does painting en plein air ever get any easier?
Janine: I think preparation is the key, to make sure you have everything you need, and it’s also important to think practically about the size of the canvas or paper. The weather of course plays it’s part and you need to be able to pack things up quickly if it turns bad.
Lisa: Do all of your paintings start with a study in front of the subject?
Janine: Essentially yes, but for me it’s hard to quantify how much comes from direct observation work and how much derives from just spending time in that environment. So much is absorbed into the subconscious and these images and experiences of the landscape may come through in any work. I don’t always like to restrict myself to a fixed viewpoint – sometimes this is necessary, but often I would rather produce a piece which evokes the essence of that landscape.
Lisa: Your drawings often use a variety of media and you use a wide range of tone, which must require a very durable paper! Do you have a favourite paper that you like to use?
Janine: I love Fabriano Academia paper (200gsm) and I buy it on a large roll so I can cut it to whatever size I need. It really is excellent for reworkings – an integral part of my work is to build up multiple layers, making numerous erasures and grooves in the paper, so having the assurance of a heavyweight paper means I can work freely.
Lisa: Do you have any tips for preventing charcoal from smudging oil paint when you work with the 2 in the same composition?
Janine: I tend to embrace the smudging rather than try to prevent it as I like the effect and I feel it adds another dimension to the painting. Looking at artists such as Willem de Kooning inspired me to use oil and charcoal together to create layers and depth in the work. However, if you want to keep the charcoal line separate, a workable fixative can be lightly applied.
Lisa: How do you avoid over working a painting?
Janine: In the early days I would focus on just one piece at a time, and it often became a battle! I then began to develop several pieces simultaneously and this helped enormously to avoid over working. I feel the time spent reflecting on one piece while working on another is absolutely vital to the process – it helps me to realise what to keep, what to omit, and where to go next.
Lisa: Your paintings are a loose interpretation of the land and sea scape subject matter that you draw your ideas from. Can you describe how you go about abstracting the subject matter?
Janine: I start with exploring the landscape or seascape and making quick preliminary sketches in a variety of media. Working quickly means that I am able to capture the fundamental forms, lines and colours without becoming too focused on any one thing. For me, abstraction is an instinctive process and I enjoy having the freedom to add or subtract elements without the bind of staying true to representation. The paintings or works on paper are reworked several times and usually the finished pieces will be unrecognisable from their original point – as they develop they take on their own character and I allow that to happen naturally.
Lisa: Imagine the scene: you’ve planned a day of painting and drawing out of doors. How do you prepare?
Janine: I like to have either an A3 or square sketchbook and usually an A5 one too, of good quality heavyweight paper, together with some individual pieces of paper cut to different sizes. I take a variety of materials such as pastel, charcoal, graphite and gouache so I can respond to the landscape in whatever medium feels appropriate. Occasionally I will paint on a small panel with oils. Finally, it’s essential to have a flask of tea and some biscuits – I find it hard to work without these!
Lisa: What are your favourite brand of oil paints and what colours could you not live without (and why)?
Janine: I’ve always been a fan of Daler Rowney Georgian oils and the colours I favour depend on whether I am painting a landscape or seascape. For landscapes, I love the combination of Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue to give an earthy depth to the palette, and for seascapes I like mixing white with colours such as Cerulean Blue to create a light, summery feel. I also couldn’t be without oil bars (oil paint in solid stick form) as they bridge the gap between painting and drawing, and are fantastic for spontaneity and freedom on the canvas.
Lisa: You often exhibit at open submission shows, including the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the NEAC and the Pastel Society. How important is being selected for these shows to your confidence as an artist?
Janine: I think it’s a huge boost for any artist, not only is it such a privilege to have work selected but it raises an artist’s profile and provides an opportunity to exhibit alongside the very best artists at the forefront of contemporary art. Submitting work to these kind of shows will inevitably sometimes bring rejection but it is worth it for the times when the work is selected, and all the positives which come with that.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
For images of work, latest news and exhibitions, and blog
My Etsy shop has a selection of small original artworks for sale, together with a range of greeting cards
– ‘Natural Selection’, Inspired by…Gallery, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby, North Yorkshire, 7th – 27th September. Group show with Angela and David Chalmers, and Lindsey Tyson. Through the diverse mediums of painting, photography, mixed media and textiles we will be interpreting the natural beauty of North Yorkshire, each in our own unique style. Meet the Artists event Saturday 10th September
– ‘The Balance in Abstraction’, Kunsthuis Gallery, Crayke, York, 9th September – 30th October. Alongside fellow painters Jill Campbell, Judy Sale and Nicky Heenan we will be celebrating the colour and textures of land and sea. Preview Friday 9th September, 7-9.30pm