As part of an ongoing series, Weekender catches up with artist Teresa “Terry” Grimes, an artist with a passion for the outdoors whose lively work reflects the light, color, energy and movement of wherever she happens to be. Terry says she doesn’t like to think too much about her art, preferring instead to let her creativity simply flow.
How do you begin your day?
It depends on the day. I allocate Wednesday and Thursday for studio work, for planning pieces, for warming up, or reading about art, painters or art history. I use the time for trying out ideas and playing with watercolors. I need these couple of days of focus and use them for loosening and stretching. I then allocate Saturday and Sunday for a continuation of the above, but with hopes of being able to complete or start strongly whatever has evolved from the Wednesday and Thursday sessions.
How do you organize your studio?
I’ve staked out an L-shaped corner of our apartment for my studio. Here I’ve placed a board on top of one wall so I can paint directly against the wall. The Caymanian artist Bendel Hydes taught me this technique as a great way to work into the painting, which basically means putting your whole body behind the paint stroke. On the wall I can put paintings up and take them down easily. I also like to stick ideas up on the board for inspiration. But I am finding myself painting more and more outside, so am finding my studio space is becoming a place for making changes or additions to what has been evolving from my plein air pieces
How do you approach a new piece of work?
I see things from the side, not from straight on. An idea often pops into my head when I’m doing something else. It will nag at me until I pay attention.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from what is around me: the play and movement of light, patterns and shades of color. This is what draws my attention and gets me to pick up my paint brush.
On Saturday and Sunday in the evenings around 4:30 p.m., I go out and do a couple of plein air pieces. These sessions are another way of exercising and stretching my paint focus. I am working around the Barkers area at this point in time, but with some hope of getting into the bush that is slowly being cleared from the new highway and development that is occurring in the Salt Creek and Yacht Club area. Some great vistas are evolving, and I am hoping to catch them on canvas.
What are you working on right now?
These images from Barkers are my small paint sketches, my plein air pieces that I’m currently working on. Once I’ve sketched them in paint, I then attempt to develop them into further, larger finished pieces; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I believe there is a freshness when painting small, fast pieces (paint sketches) outdoors. You are trying to capture the constantly changing color and movement. Nothing is still when painting directly and one can get a great energy and movement when it works.
In addition, I went to Italy over the summer, painting the mountains of Sibillini and other parts of the Italian countryside near to Rome, such as Civita Castellana, following the work of the 19th Century plein air artists. I’m inspired by their work and tried to find the locations at which they themselves would have sat and painted. I suppose I’m inspired by the mountains because our terrain here is so flat.
I’ve brought back with me a variety of paint sketches as well as photos that I’m keen to work on further. Right now I’m digesting what I experienced when I was away. I’m playing with watercolor paintings of my sketches to get my paintings to the next stage. Painting them in watercolor gives new light, movement and emphasis to the work.
I use photos for reference, but I find they freeze the image into just one color, shape or shadow, one “bite” of information. Paint sketches force me to keep up the palette as the view changes, so you get four or five different bites of color in one go.
How long do you spend on your artwork?
I don’t like spending more than two hours on a paint sketch, preferably just one, although bigger pieces may take two to four hours. Then, in my studio I will take longer working on the piece, but I try not to get too bogged down as I can lose energy and the liveliness. Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to complete a painting. Sometimes I revisit a painting a few times, though it’s never the same if I do.
I think the important thing with artwork is to not think about it too much and just let go and not worry. It’s just as easy to move on to the next painting if the first doesn’t work out.
Where do you see your artwork progressing?
I’m hoping to show a broad selection of my paint sketches – 56 pieces completed over three years – from my trips to Italy, in the near term. The trips to Italy are like boot camp: whatever I learn, how to see, how to work faster, I always apply to how I paint here. I’m excited to be able to show the paint sketches in one exhibition.
How do you close down your day?
I wind down by simply staring out to sea as the view here is spectacular.