Under the Skin

Captions for Under the Skin. 26th Jan 2016 Penny Bearman

When I see Lucy’s pomegranates, and particularly when I saw her painting the pomegranate, she reminded me so much of Mum; the same desperation to paint had brought her to tears, and she felt she was choosing something to paint, out of necessity to make something happen and out of desperation to find something to make painting possible.

When I see the painting that resulted I feel overwhelmed with its beauty and extreme colour, pretty much what we felt when we returned from the compulsory shopping trip or walk that allowed Mum to paint the red onions.

I feel that Mum and Lucy have got a lot in common, I felt that Mum was more “herself” when she was expressively reacting to a moment, either drawing or painting the huge abstracts. I didn’t like it when she felt she had to paint what she thought people wanted to see, I hated to see her compromise.

When Lucy worked for her degrees and at school she got baffled by the brief she was given sometimes. My question to her was to ask what she wanted to do. When responding to that question she always went away and produced staggeringly fantastic work. Strangely it wasn’t particularly hard to fit her spontaneous work to the brief. It always went down well, and Tutors always felt she had come up with a uniquely oblique view of the subject.

In conclusion, I think to respond emotionally within art is essential, it is the only essential ingredient, and the only true test of art, whether it is emotionally honest.

Strangely this thought does not always synchronise with current thinking about art. Grayson Perry suggested in a recent tv programme that art is being produced to create good journalism, and that in translation into words there is a danger that emotional honesty is overlooked.Press Releaseunder the skin poster

Under The Skin

Lucy Somers, Penny Bearman and Margaret Peters, three generations of painters will commemmorate the 25 years since Margaret’s death and celebrate her painting legacy.

The exhibition will be held from February 2nd to 29th 2016 at The Plough Art Centre, Torrington North Devon, travelling to Liverpool during March, and Kent during April 2016.

Penny and Lucy will reflect on the value of being brought up within a culture of painting, commenting on each others’ work. The following blog stream will provide a rehearsal for us, and a preview of the exhibition’s content….


Red Onions by Margaret Peters


The Participatory Museum- Lucy Somers

Here is my last piece of writing for university, bringing together a bunch of thoughts about how museums stage their interactions that had been bugging me for the past few years. It roughly centres around the idea of “play” that has been an accepted ethos for making artwork for so long, and I examined the extent to which play could be a good ethos for engaging with and understanding work too.

What do you think?


Lucy Somers thesis- The Participatory Museum

Post Modernism

The point about post-modernism is that we have become used to a collaging of different genres.

Different cultures divided by geography, class and history are now mixed, but they do not disolve together entirely, creating the “fusion” of cultures, they collage with surprising tensions at the points of contact. This then becomes the artists obsession – the clash of opposites.

Penny Bearman Jan 2014

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“champion the creative mind!”

The traditional view of fine art, and a great deal of art teaching supports the mystique  that certain chosen individuals have an inherent talent, and that only trained individuals can spot the talent and explain it to the rest of the world. This keeps out most of the community, keeps a “closed shop” mentality, and in the end is self destructive, because the public will not ultimately support a means of expression that keeps them out, and denies them a voice. 
The most successful elements in our culture are the open, inclusive ones, they invite debate and have a fast flow of new ideas and new “blood”. 
I think it is important for artists not to exploit their traditional romantic status, but stand up for and champion the creative mind. 
If we want a vibrant culture we have to defend creative thinking which is open and expansive thinking, not closed linear and segmented.

“champion the creative m…

Painting and Marriage

I think most of the barriers to achievement are in our own heads, not something we should readily blame on other people, particularly our long-suffering partners.
I say long-suffering because however much we are dedicated to the pursuit of culture or art, and want to place this above all other considerations, if we are leaving practical considerations to someone else it is intrinsically unfair, unless you are partnered with someone who particularly wants to emerse themselves in domestic matters. My experience of this is that however good someone is at domestic matters they do it with their own aspirations, ideals and values in their mind too.
So in short I believe that all people are equal, so overballancing someone else’s life with more than their fair share of the humdrum element of life is cramping their freedom to have goals and an imaginative life. This will create a rift between your very different life-styles, just as the rift between rich and poor creates cultural, political and social disharmony.
As for painting; the feeling of desperation, depression, frustration, is our motor. When you feel like that it means you must paint now, not necessarily that you must paint every waking hour.
My advice, to myself as well as others is to give your life some flexibility to paint when you are inspired, and not force yourself to paint when you are not. Painting only seems to work when you have a point to make…

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When is a figurative painting not a figurative painting?

Post by Lucy Somers!

I’ve decided to base my fast approaching dissertation on the difficult division between abstract painting and figurative painting. Partly with the ambition of working out my relationship with figuration in my own painting.

I’ve always painted with varying levels of figuration, wether I used people, fruit, domestic interiors, or landscapes, because it never seemed to make sense without that essential connection to reality and to observation. Like any statement, it doesn’t mean anything out of context.

But one thing that has frustrated me and confused my tutors is that I’ve never wanted my paintings to be about the objects, and because I resisted any reading of the painting as being a social comment on domesticity, they test my need for the figuration entirely.

Recently, I’ve come to think that my difficulty is in the heirarchy of the image. That our minds are constructed so that any figurative element is picked out from abstraction. So when I paint figuratively, but want the abstract elements of the colour, tone and light to carry the meaning of the picture, the mind will always be diverted to the figurative element- and thus my tutors want to talk about the chair not the light.

I also came to think how clever Baselitz’s method was, to use people, which have got to be the most immediately recognised subject, very pinnacle of the heirarchy. By using images of people, but picturing them upside-down, the potency of the image is diffused, and so the abstract painterlyness becomes dominant over the figurative element.

I need to find some way to keep my link to reality, but with some way of diffusing the image’s power, letting my paint come to the fore.

What do any of the other Paintists think?

Conceptual Colour

Nocturnal thoughts about conceptual colour:

When I don’t paint during the day I find myself painting conceptually at 4am at night in my head:

Last night I decided that the design of the painting is done best when angry and should be painted aggressively with a flat brush in hot colours, thin reds or red/black mixture. Yellow represents optimism and is only occasionally present in my paintings(!). Blue represents space, thus should be painted as thickly and opaquely as possible to resist the trap of overly representational space…

Beginnings of the Paintists!

We shall delete these and start with some pictures and some thoughts on the art. This is just a test for now.