Anna Preston talks to Buy Art | Buy Now featured artist Sally Wyatt about her painterly practice.
You have described your painting process as 'intuitive'. How do you go about creating a work intuitively?
Something unusual will catch my eye in a landscape and become the creative trigger. I may know the subject well, make a brief figurative sketch, collect some little curiosities of nature in my pocket or take a photograph. Whether outside or in the studio, I turn away from any preliminary figurative studies I have made and boldly apply paint onto the canvas in a manner that feels right and true to my original experience. I use big brushes, palette knives and bare hands. Exciting layers of paint build up, get scraped away, get re-applied again and again.
Would you say that oil paint is your medium of choice?
I love oil paint for its gorgeous malleability, sheen, subtlety and versatility. It's slow drying time can be an advantage. But I love the looseness of water-based media and their practicality for working en plein air. However, I will almost invariably want to work over the top of acrylic paint in oil. Recently I've been experimenting with the translucency of egg tempera. I won't pin myself down to any one medium!
Your oeuvre reveals a special relationship with the wilderness of the British countryside and coast. Tell us a bit more about how you use your native landscape as inspiration.
I've grown up loving the countryside, the wilder the better. I walk everyday whatever the weather and I sail. It's the little enigmas that inspire me; disturbed water and ice formation, tangled and decaying vegetation, pebbles and strange rock forms. I studied the 'geo' sciences and my husband was a plant biologist. These things rub off.
What roles do imagination and alchemy play in the viewing experience of your work?
Viewing my work requires imagination and alchemy but also observation. The alchemic processes that happen with expressive painting mysteriously mimic nature's forces and processes. I rely on my accurate observations and understanding of nature to imagine recognisable forms emerging from the chaos of texture and colour. My choices of subject matter are complex and uncertain, so I like my paintings to invite question and imagination too. Our perceptions and emotions are fascinating and so different.
Finally, what's next for you, artistically?
I was mentored at The Newlyn School of Art and shall be returning in a group exhibition at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens early in 2018. Critique is creatively invaluable and who knows how my art will develop. These exhibitions will expose my work to new audiences and feedback will inevitably influence direction. I want to communicate my unique vision of landscape beauty.