One of the most fascinating aspects of an artist’s work is the way a painting is born. And inspiration can be found absolutely anywhere. Fran’s White Stories is a unique opportunity to follow her ideas from the moment of conception to the final painting.

Flag for Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February has given us all a new focus for our fears and anxieties, with millions of innocent people displaced from their homes and terrified for their lives.

Angus & I saw a Ukrainian flag flying at our village school and discussed making one for the Nuthurst Community Allotment at the bottom of our drive, to show our support.

A couple of days later allotment members Charlie & Becky decided to hold a fundraising event for Ukraine at the allotment. Their Ukrainian friend, Maria, who lives locally, also has a son at the village school. I realised at this point I didn’t have any fabric to make the flag, so decided to paint Flag for Ukraine instead. I found a piece of canvas in my studio, painted this with white gesso, mixed large pots of blue & yellow acrylic paint which I applied in two large equal bands of colour. This was the largest painting I had done in months.

Our neighbour Ricardo helped me put the flag up on the wooden fence to the right of the gate, in a prominent spot. The allotment event raised £5000 on the night with more donations online. I also purchased a beautiful painting of daffodils from Suzie Ross, an artist I follow on Instagram. This was in support of the Ukrainian people. I made my donation for this to From Sussex with Love who have already sent supplies to Ukraine and are organising to drive out more and collect refugees.

Park Life

It was a hot day on the beach. I had already been observing and painting on the beach, so my mind was engaged with women reading. Walking back to the house I noticed Edith lying on a bench reading and I took a photograph. She wasn’t feeling well so she was not aware I had taken the photograph, but I told her afterwards. This is how my painting Park Life started its journey in summer 2019 while I was on vacation with family friends in Cornwall, an annual trip which we all look forward to immensely. It then evolved throughout the winter, before emerging complete very recently. Or is it complete?

Normal people

At the Charleston Literary Festival in May 2019, I asked the reader if I could take her photo. She was reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. As you can see, I played with ideas, mediums, collage and, as I often do, accommodated previously used backgrounds.

Required Reading

This story started with a postcard in my collection of The Magdalen Reading by Rogier van Der Weyden 1399-1464. I traced this painting to Room 56 in The Sainsbury Wing of The National Gallery and did a pencil sketch to add to the ones I’d already created directly from the postcard – see images in the ‘book’ I made of my subject. 

All the light we cannot see
All the light we cannot see
All the light we cannot see
All the light we cannot see

All the light we cannot See

All the Light You Cannot See is a book discussed at my book club. In fact, it refers to radio waves not electric light but it is such a nice title I felt it is appropriate for the painting. I photographed Sue reading the book under a standard table lamp then worked from this photo to produce all of the studies which start with watercolour, then beautiful water-soluble coloured chalks from Viarco, through to acrylic & mixed media. The final piece is on paper.