Patricia Lomax is an artist and teacher of abstract art who has been widely exhibited in London, New York, Paris and Rotterdam. She describes her style as ‘latter-day expressionism’ executed in oils or acrylics, with themes derived from land or sea. Colour is an important element in her creative process as freedom of colour is a vital constituent in her paintings. She’s taking part in Devon Open Studios. ArtsCulture got in touch to find out more about her work
Can you give us an insight into your use of colours: what has been an unexpected success, and what didn’t work at all?
I am basically a colourist, being fascinaterd by the infuence of one colour set against another. The changes in depth or space, atmosphere or mood achieved by juggling the ‘pattern’ of hues upon the canvas is an endless conundrum, with sometimes electrifying results. It is a confusing, stumulating mind game that is further complicated by the integral aim of expressing a specific subject. These subjects are highly personal being directly related to friends and family, home, garden and years of travelling afar by yacht. On the whole thy depict my own relationship with “place” or “event” and describe a happy life. Bringing all these elements together to form a s satisfying image is what I hope to do each time I face the canvas.
Above is most of what I feel about colour. I made a whole series of paintings some years ago, in Suffolk, at the time that that Sizewell A was to be closed. We lived very near by at the time. All the paintings were red, very red and minimal in structure. They were exhibited in the Peter Piers Gallery in Aldebugh and were an immediate success. I went on to make several hundred on the same theme which was something that I felt very strongly about at the time and I sold almost all of them. For a few years they did constitute a “runaway” success and it was a surprise to discover that so many people wanted such red paintings. The red symbolised my feelings about the Sizewell A situation but I doubt that clients really appreciated the subject.
As for failures of colour experiments there are too many of those to mention! On the whole I seem unable to make satifactory compositions with ‘quiet’ or muted colours. There have been a few that worked but on the whole it just doesn’t go well for me. Which is why I keep on trying.
How has your work changed over time?
I have been painting for at least the last 60 years. Many members of my family make art of one kind or another so I grew up with painting and various crafts. On the painting front I made watercolour landscapes to start with, indeed for many, many years until eventually around the seventies I think, I finally found too little challenge in them and decided to look for a different approach.
It took me about 10 years to develop an abstract style that I was happy with and I have been working along those lines ever since. It was a deliberate decision to “turn abstract” and it has been, and still is, a hard road to travel. My husband and I spent many years ocean cruising and then I stored up many images about the sea and that has been reflected in my work until recently.
Now I am surrounded by the moors and the feeling, light, weather, views are quite different so the work has changed. My themes are about place and to some extent about event too but that has always been the case.
You exhibit widely in the UK, especially London, New York, Florida, Paris, Rotterdam etc. Has living in Devon impacted on your practice in any way, either adversely in terms of travel and accessibility or positively, allowing you to recharge your creative energy?
Since moving to Devon, over three years ago now, several circumstances in my life have changed with the consequence that I find it much harder to find enough time in the studio. My husband has retired, which has meant that we have spent a lot of time travelling, the garden is much bigger and we have been converting an old barn to create our new home.
In Suffolk I had a large client base and was well established in the area. Many of my London clients spent weekends in East Anglia so I had a lot of studio visitors of a more sophisticated nature than has been easy to find around me at the moment.
The heart of rural Devon is a very different place! I haven’t exhibited abroad or in London since moving here. For one thing travelling with a load of artwork is too challenging, distances too great and time too short.
However on the good side I have the best studio I have ever had. It’s large, 42ft long, airy and light with every facility that I could wish for. Even central heating. The countryside around me is dramatic, beautiful and peaceful which is always a great bonus. I love being here.
I have joined the Devon Artist Network and the North Devon Arts Group and plan to take part in the Open Studios that both organisations run.So far these have brought me more than my fair share of interest and I am slowly beginning to build a new client base.Even some of the London people have been down to visit me – who can resist beautiful Devon?!!
For the future I hope and plan to get back to more time in the studio and look forward to seeing where the influence of my new surroundings take me in my painting life.
Do you come up against a reaction to your work from those who prefer a more fugurative approach?
Yes, all the time. Frequently from the older generation and mainly from people who have not been much exposed to contemporary art.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
For at least 20 years my husband and I started and ran our own restaurants. All have been in The Good Food Guide. I was responsible for doing all the cooking and running the kitchens.
We have four daughters, and also a series of foster children, to raise.
I trained as a teacher but never really spent a lot of time in schools.
We sailed our own yacht around British waters, Europe and the Mediterranean, and also the South China Seas for some years. This is a full time job !!
I grow a lot of vegetables and fruit, mainly for all the family around us, but I also sell some soft fruit as we have so much. This is a time consuming ‘job’ and we are dependant on the results.
How important is it for you to help people gain confidence and knowledge through the workshops you run and what can people expect?
The main point of the workshops is to encourage and help people to gain confidence and take risks with their art endeavors. It’s more about ‘unlearning’ than anything else as most children, when they are young at least, do not have any constraints or restrictions on their art. That is something that most learn in their teens. A desire to conform perhaps. Good art needs courage and permission to experiment.
I find that most students find the experience challenging and tiring. Two days is enough for the majority. It is hard work.
I would just like to say a big thank you for this opportunity to explain myself a little. It has been a long time since anyone asked me such searching questions and I have had to stop and think about my answers which has made me consider more carefully what I am doing. So, thank you.