Catherine Baker

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From the Blorenge Strip2 2016

Catherine Baker - Artist's Statement

I am passionate about the landscape around Britain. My work is firmly rooted in the landscape I experience from walking through it. This could be through a city park or industrial estate, a coastal path, or the remoteness of a moor or plain. The paintings I produce are the result of a distillation of the essential colours, marks and lines I encounter on these walks through the landscape. Personal memories, associations and traces of the history of a place - geological or man made - are important for me. I'm looking for poetic rhythms, echoes: some kind of resonant statement.

My work process begins with sketches directly from the landscape, adding notes of colours, descriptions of light, shapes and mood. Later in the studio I work on a series of paintings, using elements from the sketches and memory of that time and place. The paintings usually go through many changes and they develop over a period of time. I use mainly thin wash layers of acrylic colour with lines of paint, pencil or charcoal.

My paintings physically evoke my interest in the layering of history from the way they are built up, rubbed out, scraped down and covered over again. Some traces of what has gone before may be visible on the surface. I like the work to have a fragile quality to the surface, to show they have been through the struggle for the image to emerge. But the work must still have a freshness to it before I can say it is finished, or that there is no more I can do to it. It has to 'breathe'.

The painters I admire and am influenced by range from the Romantic landscape tradition of Turner (especially the looser almost abstract watercolours), Constable's sketches, Whistler's Nocturnes, John Piper - to Roger Hilton, Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, Cy Twombly and Howard Hodgkin. Although the artist Edwina Leapman's painting language is very different from mine, the build-up of acrylic glazes and her use of colour I have admired immensely.

The element of drawing on paintings with graphite and charcoal and scratching through the surface is an influence from Roger Hilton. I also admire Agnes Martin's delicate use of pencil on her paintings. My own use of drawing is about revealing a working out of ideas - another thing going on in the making up of the image, although it may not be obvious what this working out signifies. There may also be a few words half-obscured. I want to get a sense of rawness and fragility by using drawing materials with the paint.