The Feeling of Neutral Buoyancy

Neutral Buoyancy (87 x 113cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

‘Neutral buoyancy’ is neither sinking nor floating.

Another world lies beneath the sea, its darkest waters as unknown to us as the unexplored galaxies. It is so quiet, your exhaled breath bubbles toward a yellow veil above the water’s surface. Each sound is muffled, so as not to break your focus. This balancing act, with your flippered feet in motion, leaves you with your thoughts.

Whilst remaining calm and focused on breathing, you also feel the silent dread of your own mortality creep into the vast ocean. But in this cushioned, anti-gravity sphere, you can fly slowly and capture your surroundings. You save the memory for later nostalgia.

The light above is safety, whilst the depths below are full of fear yet curiosity. As you continue to focus, those bubbles take with them your anxiety. You are a silent presence in a world far from security and comfort, but full of promise.

You allow yourself to explore, but with the scuba diving instructor still in your vision.

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden (71 x 91cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

Often in a busy and bustling city, it is hard to find quiet.

As the Earth thaws, the public flock to the parks for a day of sunshine and socialisation. Shorter lengths and bright patterns, London is awash with summer florals and blue denim. I tend to avoid the crowds, in search of my own haven.

Along the illuminated paving stones do I find a Victorian-inspired, cast iron gate. The black metal is scorching as I tenderly allow myself into the garden patio. I see an inviting bench, almost as if the sun has two weighty hands on my shoulders. Before I reach the comfort of sitting down, I am swarmed by a small animal tribe: an unlikely trio of hens, entrusted as keepers of the garden.

I hold my breath as they circle my feet and peck at my laces. I am not sure how happy they are to have a foreign invader, but my silence quickly earns their trust. Over a shared lunch, we bond even more. All three sit with their feet tucked in, their feathered bodies as dense as bread loaves.

They rise to wish me farewell, as the heat of the iron gate subsided from the cool evening air.

This garden shall remain our secret.

**Article continued on Page Two**

When Spring Calls

New Beautiful Day (61 x 61cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

White roses are traditionally associated with new beginnings, as white as a bridal gown. They may not be as loud as their coloured counterparts, but their understated beauty flaunts in their layered tones of white, playing with light and shadow.

On the first day of Spring, there is no overcast to be seen, but rather an empty sky and a scorching sun. The artist sees this from her studio and, after a long winter, is eager to capture the changing seasons. As if stealing a palette from the sky, her background is sapphire. In her ever-flourishing garden, the muted white roses provide that dramatic contrast that the artist desperately seeks. With a bed of sun-lounging roses below, only the fighting few climb upwards, their tightly closed buds unravelling, their faces exposed. She uses a thin brush to trace their intricate stems, before sculpting her white paint into oval shapes on the canvas.

When the seasons change once more, and we return to shorter days and colder nights, these white roses are a gesture of remembrance. A farewell to summer, but a promise to return, their purity expresses a quiet optimism for the future. This painting says, ‘I’m thinking of you’.

**Article continued on Page Two**

Up The Garden Path

Up The Garden Path (30x40cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

There is nothing quite like the sheer panic of forgetting someone’s birthday, more specifically a birthday card, to truly mark the occasion.

Luckily, an artist works well under stress. As someone so often used to the pressures of meeting deadlines for clients, she quickly make haste; She grabs her art supplies and throw them down onto her work surface with an anticipatory thud.

This is no regular client, and there has been no debrief in this instance. But with her husband as the recipient, she knows him well enough to paint something of his taste.

Using a piece of paper, easily folded into a card, the artist begins to plot her canvas just in time for this important day. In her mind, she fondly envisions the summer garden.

The buzzing bees and singing birds are an orchestra in this quiet corner of the countryside. The wild flowers grow with such a vigour, they often overstep into the pathway. This is the pathway which the artist’s husband will walk after the working day. Crunching gravel underfoot, the bright bulbs are thrust forward by the wind and kiss his feet. The artist imagines his pace quicken upon his excitement of seeing balloons, or a colourful banner in the archway perhaps; His mind is animated with what surprises may be awaiting behind the front door of their home.

The artist plays out this warm and happy scene inside her head as she paints. Almost as if the mental image has been scanned onto the paper, it is complete. The artist reviews the finished birthday card, with the long, overreaching stems of the flowers and the path seemingly built around them. With dots of sapphire and rouge to imitate their swaying, she leaves the darkened doorway, as the beautiful, ambiguous end of one’s journey up the garden path.

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‘Tones of Velvet Bohemia’

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My second solo exhibition, ‘Tones of Velvet Bohemia’ will be taking place at The Alfred East Gallery in Kettering mid November for 4 weeks, so I am working hard towards that at the moment. There will be around 20 new paintings on the theme ‘Tones of Velvet Bohemia’ in a variety of different sizes – the challenge was to decide on the name for the exhibition before I’d done the paintings!!

Neutral Buoyancy

A moment in time – Foxton, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England

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A quick painting last week on paper of the canal close to my home – I wanted it to sparkle with light and the weather was dull so I had to use my imagination quite a bit!!

This painting is now framed and for sale in the ‘On Paper Exhibition’ at The Open Door Gallery on Church Street in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

Whispering Shadows

Whispering Shadows

I have a vase of artificial white roses in my hall – I’m not really a fan of artificial flowers but these were long stemmed and elegant with a papery randomness about their petals.

Occasionally – and I haven’t worked out how to predict it – a shaft of light comes from between the trees outside and casts this poignant shadow across the wall. It is so beautiful and unexpected and only lasts a short time. It’s like being allowed into a magical world for a moment and then just as quickly, it’s gone.

‘Neutral Buoyancy’

Neutral Buoyancy

‘Neutral buoyancy’……weightlessness, feeling suspended, neither sinking nor floating.

A state of calm & balance, focusing on your own breathing and mortality, allowing you to fly slowly in a mainly silent, multidimensional, cushioned world. If sound comes, it comes from all sides, muffled and unsure of direction.

The light above is golden, the depths below are terror and intrigue. Slow steady breaths dispelling the anxiety of silently entering an uninvited other world….

 

I learnt to scuba dive in December and the feeling was so extraordinary I came home
and painted it. The words above describe how I felt and what I painted. I thought the painting needed some explanation as it is a little different from my normal style but I also thought that you don’t have to be a scuba diver to recognise some of these thoughts & feelings. I would be very interested in any feedback on this painting, I did give myself free rein & was a little surprised at how it turned out! Please feel free to comment.

Naming my first solo exhibition

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‘Beautiful Day’ Acrylic on canvas 40cm x 40cm

The ’78 Derngate’ Gallery have awarded me my first solo exhibition and wanted to know, for their advertising, what I’d be calling it. It runs from July 4th to September 28th this year in Northampton city centre.

Being new to this sort of thing I have agonised over this – and at the same time wondered if it is important at all?! I have swung from thinking, ” it really doesn’t matter, the paintings will speak for themselves” to, “it really does matter, the title could alienate people and put them off even wanting to view it!”

And so daily I have been coming up with, & noting down, different titles, trying to find a few words or a phrase that encapsulates this collection of 14 paintings that I have been working on day & night for the past 4 months.

I often paint roses but I also paint lavender, chickens and interiors – I paint my life, or at least the good bits, when the sunlight comes in and makes the mundane beautiful – for this exhibition I have even painted my kitchen sink.

So after making a final decision fifteen times, the deadline day arrived and I had to make the FINAL final decision. I sent over a jpeg of ‘Beautiful Day’ and asked them to call my exhibition, “Shades of an English Life”. I hope it doesn’t matter and at the same time I hope it makes people want to view it. Only time will tell.

“Shades of an English Life’ will be on display at ’78 Derngate’, Northampton from July 4th – Sept 28 2014 with a ‘Meet the Artist’ event on July 5th from 2pm-4pm. ( I, for one, will definitely be ready for a glass of wine.)

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‘Everything But’ Acrylic on canvas 40cm x 40cm