Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Hi, I'm Susan Edwards, welcome to my blogspot!



                  Hi, I'm Susan Edwards,
                Welcome to my blogspot!

This is the first posting. So I'm starting with the good news that I had a painting selected to exhibit with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters at their Mall Galleries Exhibition last month - December 2012. 

During 2012 I was lucky enough to be appointed as Artist in Residence on a 4 month World Cruise. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to paint in some fantastic locations. On the days at sea I was delivering over 70 practical watercolour painting sessions to passengers, and 
Demonstrating Portrait painting onboard
demonstrating oil portraiture.  Days ashore saw me setting up my box easel in locations as far apart in distance, culture and visual impact as Easter Island and Beijing!  That's when having to paint fast really kicks in! it really has speeded up my technique!     Take too long and the ship  
has gone without you!
The ship hasn't left me behind yet! Bora Bora 2012
As well as inspiring views, it's fantastic to meet people from different cultures and tribes - no problem with the language! Watch everyone's faces as they recognise a friend or scene coming alive on the canvas!. Tourists of course think that you are only really there to
make their holiday snap more interesting!!

 Back home on shore 37 thousand sea miles later, I'm now developing the canvases into a World series.   I used to write and illustrate an Artist's Diary for a glossy regional magazine so I thought I'd jot down some of my globe trotting adventures with my paints to accompany the paintings and amuse myself on winter evenings!!   Here are the first two:



Pitcairn Island

Only a few cruise ships in a year manage to get passengers ashore on Pitcairn, because of the rocky shoreline and the wild seas .  It's too far to fly and in any case too rocky to land a plane there.  It is right in the middle of the world's largest Ocean, the Pacific, and to give you an idea how far it is from anywhere, it is midway between New Zealand and Panama about three and a half thousand miles in either direction.

Through driving rain and wind  our ship approached this little grey lump of rock. The sea was lashing the jagged rocks. It was going to be impossible to land with our tenders (small boats), but we had on board two New Zealanders, schoolteachers, who somehow had to get ashore, so the ship hove to.


Pitcairn is famous for being the hideaway of the 9 mutineers from the Bounty. They formed a small colony there in 1789 led by mutineer leader Fletcher Christian and his tall, beautiful Polynesian wife, who was a chief's daughter.

On Tuesday 7th February 2012,We all watched open mouthed as the seventh generation descendants of the original mutineers almost all 64 of them except the youngest, came out to the ship in the island's traditional open 40 foot boat ! They performed near miraculous feats of seamanship, each person grabbing the wildly swinging 50 foot rope ladder on the rise of a big wave, then shinning up it with bundles of handicrafts with nothing but the boiling sea below!  All this with the ship troughing in the deep swell in the opposite direction.


The Pitcairner's economy relies on their craft goods, and passengers were treated to superb displays of carvings, and the incongruous sight of muscular tattooed mixed race Polynesian islanders many with the surname Christian, in piratical gear making a beeline for the free soft ice cream machine! (A luxury too far for their generators!)

Meanwhile the ship can't anchor and is circumnavigating the island and I am trying to paint a moving scene from the balcony!! We went round the island at least three times, and there were a few lucky breaks in the cloud.  In my painting the wind seems to buffet the island from many directions and the sheer cliffs get transposed and moulded into a monolithic shape.  This happened as the painting evolved, but as I stand back I realise that it just about sums up the atmosphere of the place.



  Bora Bora 


Bora Bora or Vaitape, unlike Pitcairn Island,IS what you always dreamed a Pacific Island should be like: turquoise sea, coral reef, white sand, swaying palms..but everything is not as it seems.  Is it ever?! there's always sand in the sandwiches!!


I take the local bus along the shore with the crew on shore leave. They are heading for the nearest beach with a thatched hut bar and cool beers, I'm looking for a good view.  Slowly it dawns that the straw beach huts, some on stilts over the water are all deserted.  It seems that the global downturn has hit the island, always a luxury destination, very badly.  Nobody is about, and the place seems to be declining back to the wild, 'going native' again.  Magic totems carved and painted with strange eyes and beaks in unexpectedly strident colours, leer at you unnervingly from the undergrowth, letting you know that things haven't ever changed here for centuries, only acquired a modern 'gloss'.  It's so beautiful, but so hot!  So I find a shady spot - not directly under a coconut palm - a fall from one can kill you stone dead!- and begin painting this perfect view.


I'm hailed by a lone passenger who calls over to me ecstatically: 'the perfect island, the perfect view and there's even an artist ..' (as I said before, artists are only there for the benefit of  tourists!)


After a short while I need the Viridian.  I know I've brought it as I've just used some.   After three thorough searches I get cross not being able to find it, and then it occurs to me to search the round holes all round me on the beach,  (there are some in the painting).   Deep in one is my green tube of paint! so I put my hand down the hole to get it.   It's only later that I'm told that I've been trespassing on land crab territory and they pinch (literally) anything and carry it off to their burrows.   I saw and heard nothing!  but luckily for me the resident land crab which had appropriated my paint didn't think my hand was an invading rival, as they fight like mad over every find!!


More adventures from my travels when I've finished 7 portrait commissions!

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous adventure and such great painting opportunities1

    ReplyDelete