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artist spotlight: jonathan shearer

Can you tell us a little about the most recent works that you have on display here at the gallery? Was there any particular inspiration behind these pieces?

The falls of Balgy paintings were done on location. I had been researching locations for a walking and sketching holiday I was supposed to be doing this May - unfortunately it has been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Anyway, this was one of the locations in Torridon. I loved the rugged terrain and the cascading force of the water coming over the rocks, it is a powerful place. It is also not too far from the road, allowing me to get larger canvases on the go, on the spot.

The Hopeman beach painting was made on the beach in Moray in August as a demo on a plein air painting workshop. It was a blustery day with fantastic light and colour.

The two smaller paintings were studies for a commission I had to paint at the beach at Swordale, Ardnamurchan.

Can you tell us a little bit about your process?

First I sketch in pastel on location, looking for compositions. Then, when I have found a couple of good spots, I start working in my pochade box in oils. This is a small painting box which you can carry on your shoulder. In this process I work quickly, avoiding detail, but trying to capture a sense of the mood/light. I also work swiftly on the larger canvases on location - using large brushes and plenty of paint.

Where do you prefer to work and why? 

I prefer to work outside as much as possible. In the moment, it is all happening in front of you and you respond quickly to events as they unfold - changes in light etc... it is direct. I do work in the studio, however, I do not enjoy the studio environment as much. I lay out all the sketches and paintings I did outside to refer to and work from to try and get the same sense of place. In the studio it can all become a bit precious and contrived - so if possible I will take the painting back to location. If I rework a plein air painting in the studio it can just feel and go all wrong as I am approaching it in a different setting and frame of mind - this is usually where decent paintings get destroyed!

What are you working on at the moment, or what will you be working on next? 

I was working towards an exhibition featuring work based on Skye and Shetland, but have had to shelve that idea. The exhibition is in September, so will hopefully go ahead anyway. I have now been going back through sketches and paintings done before lockdown, and I have been focusing on the woods and river Averon, which I can walk to from my house. I also have a youtube channel up now on which I am demonstrating how I work on a large painting from start to finish.

See more of Jonathan Shearer's work here.

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