Norma Stephenson PS
Scottish painters have always held a special interest for Norma: Joan Eardley, whose work seems contemporary even today, The Scottish Colourists and now Barbara Rae and John Brown and other contemporary painters whose work is colourful and verging on the abstract. John Blockley has been a major influence on her life and work. On first seeing his paintings Norma was immediately aware of a vision and interpretation of the landscape to which she could relate and has since always had great admiration for his work. Annual holidays on the west coast of Scotland, a childhood living on the edge of the Peak District and now in the hills of the Forest of Bowland and Dales of North Yorkshire were other influences. She feels she has a natural affinity with the wild northern landscapes. The tough squat farms and barns and the ribbon roads over the moorland re often a feature of her work.
Norma's working approach is studio based, working from sketches and digital photography. She abstracts the images to find the essence and compositional patterns. She works in pastels, acrylics or watercolour on gesso/pumice primed board and use both Unison and Daler Rowney pastels. She works over an under painting of either failed watercolour or watercolour washes, usually on large sized mountboard. Often she will throw herself into a painting without any preparation. This almost always is more likely to lead to a successful outcome than is a preconceived, measured start. Often Norma will cover the support with watercolour or acrylic, aggressively and randomly, to achieve a patina and cover the inhibiting whit. She then slowly feels her way into the image, drawing into it with Conte and enjoying a ‘wandering line’ until it feels comfortable and balanced, with the right proportion of busy and calm areas. She blocks in the main shape in pastel, but consider it important to leave some of the under painting showing for texture and interest. There comes an inevitable point, however, where dissatisfaction sets in. Almost always this is because the painting has become too explicit, leaving nothing to the viewer’s imagination. Radical measures are required, which can result in success or disaster. She will often dribble water into the pastel, causing rivulets and textured effects, or she will sweep my hand across the surface to remove detail. She is always looking for an abstracted personal interpretation of the subject.
1945 Born in Hawick, in the Scottish Borders
1962 Won a bursary to study Fine Art and Graphic Design at Sheffield Art College
Elected to the Pastel Society in 2004
2005 The Bill Patterson Memorial Award
2003 The Cuthbert Award
2002 The Frank Herring Award
2001 The Cuthbert Award
June 2009 The Walker Gallery, Harrogate
November 2008 Orange Street Gallery, Uppingham
June 2006 The Walker Gallery, Harrogate
2006 Orange Street Gallery, Uppingham
The Wykham Gallery, Stockbridge