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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Featured Artist: Ona Kingdon

Hi Everyone. Here are three fun facts about how I work:

1. Many people say people’s dreams are a way of ordering, processing and filing away events that happen in their daily lives. I do dream a lot, I guess because I have such a vivid imagination, but painting is my method of ‘filing away’ things that I have seen or done or that happen to me or those around me.

The idea for ‘Spinning a Tale’ began one hot summer’s day when I visited our local pioneer village. My subject was a volunteer who was an excellent storyteller. She told us a tale of how the wool would have been shorn, collected, washed, spun and turned into blankets or clothing in days gone by. Later, as I painted, I wanted to incorporate not only her actually spinning the wool but also include at least part of her story. 

The painting not only won an award earlier this year in an International Exhibition but also sold to a woman in California who got in touch with me. I loved hearing her tale as she excitedly told me about her father the spinning wheel that she remembered them having when she was young.

“As a child we had an antique spinning wheel in our home in New England, and my father told us a "tale" about it. There was some deep red staining on the wheel, and the story he told was of a pioneer woman spinning at her wheel as an Indian approached shooting her with an arrow. The staining was her blood as she lay across the wheel, dying (as the tale goes). Of course I believed every word, and that spinning wheel held such mystery and romance for me. I have been looking for a spinning wheel ever since, and finally have found it. I believe I was meant to find your beautiful painting. She now hangs in the perfect spot where I can see her all day long as I move about my house.”

2. I do not use white paint at all when I paint. All the whites that you see in my paintings are the white of the paper so I have to plan where I want my highlights to be and keep those areas clean of any paint or lift the colour back off the paper by gently using a magic eraser, a brush or by scratching out the highlights.   I often use several of these methods in each painting I do.

‘Mind the Step’ Transparent Watercolour by Ona Kingdon.  I am often amused by the Ducks the visit the ponds in our area. They seem to forget that they can fly sometimes, especially when they encounter tricky things like steps.  This painting sold just before the Studio Tour last year when someone saw my publicity for it.  

3. Mosquitoes and all things small and flying seem to have a magnetic attraction to my paintings as I am working on them. I often work in watercolour using a technique called ‘wet on wet’.  Basically I wet the paper first with clear water, and then the wet paint is applied to this. For a while after each layer of paint is applied the few centimetres just above the painting is just the sort of damp microclimate that tiny insects like. This isn’t a problem until one of them decides to rest on the painting itself. The surface tension of the water on the paper is very strong for a small insect. In fact usually it is too strong for them to escape so they are trapped there until the paper dries. I can’t swot them or I get an added gruesome tail tale splodge on my painting so I end up picking them off oh so carefully with tweezers and then, if needed, rewetting the whole area again and smoothing out the pigment unless I think I can get away with it. Now I will have you all looking really closely at the smooth background washes on many of my paintings to see if you can spot any insect signature footprints as well as my own signature 

You are the Sunshine of my Life’. Transparent Watercolour. This was a commission that I did for 2 very special people to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

Tell us about your most memorable moment that has happened in a previous studio Tour

When I had a Ted themed exhibition last year, I asked each of my visitors to choose the Ted painting that they could most relate to.  There was much laughter in the room as they each selected and compared their choices with friends and family. It was lovely seeing people of all ages finding a personal connection to the paintings. Many enjoyed sharing their connection with me too.
This year my theme for the tour is going to be based on our senses. My section of the tour will be designed to encourage visitors to discover the art through many senses not just our sight.  So come and visit me at Boynton House on Richmond Green on the 17th 18th or 19th of October and see how many of your 5 senses you end up using or see being used in the paintings or drawings. There will even be nibbles to tempt your sense of taste and music to listen to as you look around.  I often use music as an inspiration for my paintings or to help me set the mood as I paint. Maybe you can identify which music I listened to for some of the pieces on display.

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