Dot Wade: Notes from Isolation

Published 27 May 2020

My studio becomes my son’s room when he is home from university, and thanks to the pandemic he’s with me for a while. So, I’ve decamped to the silvery light of the dining room.

I recommend reading about the great artists, becoming aware of how cultural context affected their art, and being more aware of your own context.

I have been reading about Agnes Martin and Martina Abramovic, and I am awaiting a lush volume about Robert Ryman to arrive soon. Agnes for her honesty, Martina for her emotional connection, and Ryman for his audacity and singlemindedness. I can learn from all of these.

Has being from Cornwall affected my art? Certainly. There is the legacy of the artists who took chances in the Fifties and onwards, breaking the traditional expectations of the tourist industry. They rejected the picture postcard mentality and opted instead for a brave departure into abstraction.

Ironically, today these same artists’ works are sold on millions of postcards, contributing to Cornwall becoming a very crowded tourist destination. When I lived in Mousehole, the seasonal crush of tourism felt almost unbearable at times.

When I was young, my father snapped back at me for my intolerance of tourism, reminding me “they put food on our tables”. His company printed pictures sold in giftshops; of boats in harbours, bowls of fruit, fishes etc. I grew up with this in my life. Maybe that’s why I now reject that style.

My own life has been likened to a soap opera. It has been said I seek to control my images whenever I cannot control what’s happening in my own life. Rather, I find my paintings are intended to bring calm, meditative space into a room, to emphasize positive aspects of minimalism. They reflect the turmoil of my life by their polarity.

When I work, first I clear the room. I remove objects such as vases and turn other pictures to the wall. I literally clean the room. Doors are closed and no one enters.

I layer paint. Sometimes up to 20 layers of varying consistency. I don’t know if it’s always apparent in the final work, but it is part of my painting process. On paper, I allow more freedom, but I always know what feeling I am aiming for in the final resolution.

I listen to the radio or work in silence. I like experimental jazz such as Charles Mingus and contemporary composers like Philip Glass. A piece I am listening to now is Dmitri Smirnov’s Quartet No. 2, Lento.  Sadly, Smirnov recently died of Covid-19 complications.

My current work is too dark for some people. It has a grounding effect on me. I have a favorite lead fishing weight. The feel of the weight in my palm is how I want my paintings to be.

Do I ever paint with bright, cheerful colours?

No. Not even a remote possibility. I could not do it. Even in my environment, bright colours have no place. Not out of stylistic concern, but because certain colours agitate me. My palette has limitations.

But in a way, no colour has limitations. It’s all an adventure to discover endless possibilities. 

A Weekly View


Painting of the Week: Henrietta Dubrey

Painting of the Week: Beatrice Hasell-McCosh

Painting of the Week:  Caroline Popham

Painting of the Week: Sonia Barton

Painting of the Week: Daniel Ablitt

Stella Agnew: The Edge of the Downs

Dot Wade: Notes from Isolation

Painting of the Week: Susan Ashworth

Life under Covid-19 by Sandy Brown, for Josie Eastwood

Painting of the Week: Emma McClure

An open Letter from Jeremy Annear to Josie Eastwood

Muddy Stilettos Award: We Won!

Thank you so much for your support by voting for our gallery in the 2018 Muddy Stilettos competition. Thanks to you, for the second year running we have won the Best Art Gallery Award for our area!