ARTIST PROFILE: SUE RANSLEY
The popular Guildford Arts Annual Summer Art Exhibition returns to the historic riverside Mill Studio, next to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in the heart of the town this July. Throughout the week we will be chatting to featured artists whose work will be appearing at the exhibition – next up we speak to Sue Ransley…
Can you describe your creative process?
My work is observational. So the first stage for me is people watching. The image I want to capture and translate onto canvas will be a frozen moment I’ve witnessed. Something in a moment will resonate in me, as familiar, recognisable behaviour – or I’ll be watching someone and hear an inner dialogue giving me the image and the title. They are moments of serendipity.
The physical process then is quite instinctive – from choosing whether to use oil, acrylic or watercolour – I can’t tell you how I decide, because I have no idea! But with oils I draw with paint, usually French Ultramarine, some of those lines showing through in the final painting, and I nearly always paint onto a coloured ground, often a contrast colour, so the final painting pops. With acrylics I again start with a ground, but then I draw a little with paint, but mostly mass in the beginnings of the image and find my way from there, and bizarrely my acrylics are often my most muted works. With watercolours I do no drawing at all, just loading up my brush with pigment and finding the masses – I have to be in a very Zen head space for that – so it doesn’t happen often!
If I’m using a photo reference it will be in black and white, as I prefer to choose my own palette rather than be dictated by the reality. Normally I work with a 5 or 6 colour palette, and I’m an unashamed colourist.
Where have you found inspiration in the last year?
Ugh. Well, I didn’t find any for ages!! Lockdown really locked me down! I heard some artists on social media talking of how prolific they were in lockdown, overflowing with creativity with the lack of distractions! But for me having no shows or open studios really pulled the rug from under me! I was like some diva actress wailing ‘Where’s my motivation??’ But then Portrait Artist of the Week started up and saved me!! I so enjoyed the discipline of heading into the studio on a Sunday morning and just having a go – painting along with the featured artists, and thousands of others – enjoying the chat. And I confess to squealing with delight when I saw my ‘Robbie Rinder’ amongst others on the title page for the show one week! That whole experience with #paotw really helped me re-engage.
Do you find your art develops/evolves from your original intention
Not so much. For me the original intention is quite a clear vision in my head. The composition might alter a little, or the colour palette may change. But generally if it needs any significant change then I got something majorly wrong at the get go, and the painting will either be set aside for a time, to revisit at a later date – or it will be painted over.
Has the pandemic changed anything about your creative process
Not majorly yet, but it has created a drive to progress – like there’s no time to waste, I’m on a journey, and shouldn’t be standing still. So I’m looking to improve my mark making, simplify more, and completely loosen up. Plus try other mediums – I’m yet to play with charcoal, collage, and print!
What is the best thing about being able to exhibit live again?
Oh gosh, for so many reasons. That motivation I mentioned earlier for starters. I need those deadlines to work towards. The validation being in a show gives. The kudos involved in having a prestigious show like the Yvonne Arnaud Summer Exhibition on my c.v.
But most importantly for me is the feedback. Being a people watcher, I get so much from standing back quietly and just watching people view my work. I relish seeing the reaction – whether good, bad or indifferent – it’s all important. Art is subjective, and I can’t possibly be everybody’s cup of tea. And that’s OK. It’s like Marmite! The importance is I learn so much from all the comments.
However those moments when you hear someone laughing out loud saying ‘Oh Granddad does that!!!!’ or ‘that’s just like us in 20 years time’, they are what feed me – they are the best moments! And you don’t get them unless you are at a live exhibition! So I’m very grateful to be part of this fabulous event!
WHAT? GUILDFORD ARTS SUMMER EXHIBITION
WHERE? THE MILL STUDIO, YVONNE ARNAUD THEATRE
WHEN? 10 – 22 JULY 2021 / MON-SAT 10AM – 4PM
Admission to Guildford Arts Summer Exhibition is free, but Covid-care procedures require a ticket, which is available in advance or on-line at the door from www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk