Carole Dawber

I intuitively operate in an experimental way using different resources to allow the work to evolve organically. Usually supported within linked themes, they often overlap or emerge from previous stimuli that I have exploited along my creative journey. Attention to colour has always played a vital role in my design ethic.

I find the coastline a magical place, one that brings a sense of hope and optimism with the renewing nature of the turning tides. For the ‘colourscape’ series I wanted to I heighten the colour of the landscape and use unexpected hues that jolt the sense of place and makes you question the reality of what is depicted. My two main agents are acrylic paint and textiles, with colour central to both expressions. When working in paint I prefer to use a limited palette from which I mix a variety of sympathetic hues and tints. For my textile pieces I apply acid dyes on reclaimed sari silk to generate an extensive range of shades from which to select.

The preciousness of these escapes into the outside world during the pandemic compelled me into capturing the essence of my strolls along the coast in a series of works. I wanted to portray how I viewed and remembered elements of the distant sea, the moving tidal channel erosions and elusive glimpses of a sandy beach under the encroaching grasslands. By documenting my explorations through multiple photos and sketches, I began to initiate ideas in sketchbooks creating photomontages and small-collaged compositions. I enjoy the freedom of expression afforded when working within a sketchbook. It is key to working out my objectives. I particularly love the way you can trial ideas from page to page, exhausting compositional options and colour variations, without the constraints of ‘final piece’ syndrome. As scenarios developed I simplified and heighten areas of colour and began to see how land, sea and sky became bounded by invisible horizontal and vertical boundaries.

As the ‘colourscape’ paintings developed my intention was to conjure up a more abstracted portrayal of the coastline and evoke a sense of atmosphere that prompts each viewer to discover their own landscape. The evolution of the compositions triggered blocks of unexpected colour from which to represent land and sea and I used gestural brush marks, splatters and scratching to form textured surfaces.

As I moved onto creating final pieces I use a square format as my ‘go to’ compositional frame. For me a square format creates a better balance for elements to interplay with each other and although I am translating landscape, I wanted a more focused image rather than a panoramic vista. The coastal sea in Sefton is notorious at ebb tide for retreating up to 2miles from the shore. I translated this through narrow horizontal planes of sky and sea with greater emphasis on the canvas depicting the vast expanse of the shore and its acquired vegetation.

I work solely in acrylic paint, often with a limited palette of cyan, magenta, yellow and white from which I will mix a variety of shades, although I do like to add some of the fluorescent colours that are now available to add a ‘zing’ to the tones. Acrylic has the fabulous ability to work ‘light over dark’ which also gives a ‘pop’ to the colour and the quick dry time allows for spontaneous brush marks to register immediately. I incorporate various acrylic mediums to the paint so that I can achieve translucent tints and build a depth of colour. As I apply the paint I will scratch back into the applied paint using the end of my paintbrush to reveal earlier underlying colours and give a sense of the textures of the landscape.

Within the textile ‘colourscape’ pieces I wanted to move the description of the Sefton coastline into a more decorative direction, while still maintaining abstract concepts of earlier research and the consequent paintings. I adore the kaleidoscope of colours I can achieve by using silk fibres and the translucent tones of luminosity they characteristically emit.

Using a needle felting Embellishing machine gave me the freedom to experiment with the brush-like application of the various weights of sari silks. By exploiting the random widths of the silk ribbons, I was able to imitate the mark making in my original paintings by felting and blending hues together. In turn, this provided a variety of colours to re-interpret marshland, dunes and sandy pathways under the influence of the tidal currents and winds. Once the pieces had been “painted” via the embellisher, I then used rhythmic machine stitching in rayon to anchor the silk, adding a tracery of tangled lines to echo the movement of the grasses. Finally, random ornate edges of the original sari silks were decoratively machine stitched, creating representative interpretations of man-made boundaries within each composition.


Instagram: @caroledawber_artist