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David Stubbs - Stillness - Paintings and Drawings from Life

20th March - 5th April 2017 : Heatherleys

When I began painting as a teenager growing up in Sussex I painted things that were accessible. These were what was outside my bedroom window and objects I had lying around my room. The view outside my window was the South Downs and the changing light, weather and seasons made it continually fascinating and enduring as a subject matter. I began going out into the landscape and painting plein-air and when indoors I ran out of objects to paint I began collecting pots and coloured fabrics. These two ways of working have endured and developed simultaneously and I have continued to work from both landscape and still life in equal measure.

When I was a student at the Slade I would work in the life rooms from the figure, have a still life set up in my room and go back to Sussex to paint landscape. I found a kindred spirit in my tutor Patrick George who understood the need I had to stand in a field and respond to the landscape. Until then I had worked with the idea of finishing the landscape painting in one session or a short continuation of painting sessions. I learned to build the structure of the painting and that it was wrong for me to force the painting as it had to develop in whatever time it took and I might have to return to the same place the following year or perhaps several years to bring it to a satisfactory resolution. For me landscape painting is not about ‘capturing the moment’, but more about observing and letting a painting emerge. The painting can often turn out quite different to what I had originally thought.

In 1999 I bought a house in Eastbourne to be close to the Downs again. The landscape paintings I am showing this time at Heatherley’s are from an ongoing series in the area around Beachy Head.

Still life painting is for me a constant experiment with composition, colour and tone. I often reconsider the painting in progress, change or move objects and backgrounds until I am satisfied. I revisit themes or objects that I have painted in the past.

The single object is something I explored as a student at art school in Worthing on the Foundation course, perhaps influenced by Rembrandt’s ‘Shell’ etching and Manet’s ‘Asparagus’. Later and probably influenced by Euan Uglow, who was a teacher in the Slade life rooms during my time as a student, I produced many paintings of single fruit or bowls. In 1996 I exhibited a single ‘Apple’ in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

In 2011 I embarked on another series of single object still lives and in 2012 showed 12 of these paintings of lone ceramic vessels in a solo exhibition at the Electro Studios Project Space in St Leonards on Sea. An exhibition title of ‘Stand Alone’ was suggested to me by a fellow artist. This is appropriate at also reflects my belief that a painting should be able to stand without the need of a supporting text and that the aesthetic experience is visceral and can be appreciated universally. It can be therefore inclusive and transnational.

I will be including a section in this exhibition of later additions to this Stand Alone series.Also included in this exhibition are some drawings and paintings from the figure. In this section I will demonstrate the range of media I teach in my course; A Foundation in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking.

I am a regular teacher in the Open Studio at Heatherley’s. I teach a Summer School course; Introduction to Oil Painting and also share teaching with Melissa Scott-Miller on a Still Life course.
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Founded in 1845, The Heatherley School of Fine Art is one of the oldest independent art schools in London, and is among the few art colleges in Britain that focus on portraiture, figurative painting, printmaking, illustration and sculpture.
Heatherley’s is controlled by The Thomas Heatherley Educational Trust.
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