Arundel artist Frances Knight’s solo exhibition Between Shore and Sky will showcase local seascapes at this year’s Festival of Chichester.
Running from Saturday, June 15-Sunday, June 30 (10.30am-5pm, Thursday-Sunday), it will be at The Little Art Gallery, Rookwood Road, West Wittering (free admission).
Painting throughout the seasons and in all weather at different locations along the Sussex coast including Chichester Harbour, Frances, in her latest work, aims to capture the effects of light at different times of the day on the various states of the tide.
Inspired by light, Frances paints mainly on location directly from nature, working on larger more abstract paintings from these studies once back in the studio. Often going out to paint very early in the morning, she explores the effects of light, colour and structure on the landscape.
The immediacy of plein air painting allows her to capture the changing light more authentically and so convey a true experience through her art, she says. And she is delighted to be doing so in a place very close to her heart.
“As a teenager, we had a cottage at Itchenor and I spent all my summers sailing in Chichester Harbour. I just love that area. Whenever you drive down to the peninsula, when you drive down past Chichester towards West Wittering, I just love the feeling of it. I don’t know what it is, but it just feels so light and open and free.”
As for the challenge of painting water: “I suppose it is because it is so fluid. It is so full of possibilities. And I love the way water reflects the sky. That’s what interests me. It is the interaction between the water and the sky. It is always so different. It is also the tides, the ebb and flow. Everything changes. It is also the time of the day, how low the sun is, how high the tide is, what the weather is.
“I work mainly outside on location, and I find I love the light early in the morning or early in the evening. I just went down to Itchenor the other morning. If you get there just when the sun is rising, it is particularly peaceful, particularly beautiful. I set up my easel somewhere and just paint. Obviously when you are working outside, particularly if it is windy, you can’t paint very big. But I will take the study back to my studio and do larger work there. I work from photos and sketches, but I don’t really like working from photos. I have always refused to, but I have wanted to do more studio work recently, and you can use photos to jog your memory. You can’t work directly from a photo, but you can use it to remind you of the feeling. It is about capturing that feeling and then trying to convey it to somebody else. It’s having them see the painting and hoping that it will resonate with them. It is wonderful to see someone enjoy your work.”
Particularly when that work is so vital to Frances: “Painting for me is as necessary as eating and breathing. When I do not paint I feel out of balance. I deeply need to paint and to express the beauty that I experience around me in nature, both on the surface and at depth. I think art and beauty can contribute to the quality of life and help people identify with deeper levels of meaning in their lives.”