OUR picture choice for the first week in February is a suitably chilly landscape by Oxfordshire artist Maureen Gillespie.
It is one of a series of paintings reflecting Maureen’s “lockdown walk” around the beautiful landscaped grounds of Blenheim Palace, north of Woodstock town centre.
She recalls: “On this particular day it was bitterly cold, -3 degrees. Looking across the lake, the scene before me was shades of blue, with a slight mist over the trees in the background.”
Maureen’s passion is to create pieces of artwork that bring a sensory experience to the viewer, working in oil and incorporating pastel into some of her work to give a textured dimension to the finished piece.
“I use a variety of techniques to obtain the desired result,” she explains. “This could include brushwork, scoring with a palette knife and the use of my fingers, especially for the moody skies.”
Influenced by the impressionists, especially Claude Monet and JMW Turner, she is inspired by nature in her land and seascapes, capturing the mood, light and atmosphere of moments from walks by the coast and countryside – the light on a wave or the glimmer of sunlight through the trees.
Another picture in her Blenheim series is View from Bladon Bridge. She says: “It was a cold but rather grey day where the sky seemed to blend into the lake. I wanted to convey the stillness of the lake and the almost sepia-like colour and total calm apart from a few ducks dotted about.”
Maureen works from quick sketches and photos, which she then transfers on to board in her garden studio, “a perfect location to capture the wonder of some amazing nature studies”.
A regular participant in Oxfordshire Artweeks and a member of Chipping Norton Arts, Maureen has also exhibited in Ireland, France, Jersey and the Cotswolds since returning to full-time art more than a decade ago.
The third of her featured artworks this week is another from the Blenheim series. She recalls: “One of my favourite walks, this was towards the end of autumn. There was a slight early morning mist on the lake, giving it an eerie atmosphere.
“I am a regular walker (with my dogs, Billie and Aggie) as this offers me a great source of inspiration and exercise.
“Just as lockdown was introduced I received the all-clear from breast cancer; thankfully I had all my treatment. So having stayed positive throughout a difficult year, I wasn’t going to let lockdown get me down!
“My walks varied but as I live on the edge of Blenheim estate this was the natural lengthy walk and of couse stunning scenery allowing me to take in the seasons along the way.”