On Board with Penny Talbot

1. When did you start painting?

I have been drawing and painting all my life, with some time out for working and kids… and we lived on our boat for almost ten years and there wasn’t a lot of space. I always dabbled, though, and took some classes - but never threw myself into it whole heartedly. I regret not working harder, sooner… but better late than never! That is why while they were growing up I would do anything to encourage my kids to draw, and paint, and create - which worked out very well, as I did manage to raise an artist.

by Penny Talbot

2. Favorite subjects to paint?

I don’t have any real favourite subjects, I get excited about scenes or photos or places or faces - it’s a lot easier for me to paint when I am inspired. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen very often, and I have more “ugh” moment than “ eureka!” I spend a lot of time looking at things - my surroundings, nature, animals, figuring out what it is I like and whether or not I can create something out of what I see.

I do love life drawing, something I have had a chance to do weekly with the groups I belong to - translating my drawings into paintings is not so straightforward and I struggle with that, but the freedom to do big loose drawings of people in various poses is great fun.

3. What’s your favorite color palette?

Good question - colour is what I struggle with, and have to really work at. Colour is so important in a painting, as it can make or break it, regardless of whether you nailed the composition or not. I don’t really have a favourite palette, although I do try to work with a minimal palette and make my own colours, in the hopes that by restraining my urge to throw just any old colour in, I can create a sense of harmony and continuity.

4. How many art groups do you belong to?

I belong to the Richmond Artists Guild and also the Men In Hats, a group that travels around doing plein aire painting - I have learned a ton from them, as they are all great artists and happily hand out advice, compliments, and critiques when needed.

5. When you took your boat to Baja Mexico, did you find the culture and bright colors influencing your painting?

I found the light, and the colour palette, to be very different . We have cruised the west coast for almost 40 years, and the greens and blues and greys are stunning, and very influential in my work. Baja is all about light, and warmth, red mountains and pink sand and turquoise water. I really enjoyed myself trying to recreate the atmosphere on canvas. Also, the artwork in Mexico is generally very bright and seems to give me permission to use those pure colours in my work. This doesn’t always translate well when you come home, but it is a lot of fun.

6. Do you have to be in the mood to paint? Or are you more disciplined?

If I am inspired by a photograph I have taken, and am in a place where I can really get into my work ( my place up at Horse Lake is my favourite for this, as i have a small room surrounded by windows overlooking the lake in a Northern direction) painting seems to come very easily. I am not disciplined enough to sit down when I am not in a mood to attempt to paint. Although I do try to pick up my sketch book and watercolours and at least doodle, something I have done all my life. It’s great for loosening up and playing with colour combinations without forcing myself to think too much.

7. What attracts you to other artist’s work?

I spend a lot of time looking at what other people do. I want to know what it is that makes it work, whether it is the colour palette, the composition, the brushstrokes - the loose energy - or the tight control. I am still working through how I want to paint, and find myself drawn equally to photo realism and abstract expressionism. Sometimes I get lost in my painting moving in and out from one extreme to the other, which doesn’t work well!. I love the confidence of good artists, when they are sure of themselves and their work and it shows in every brushstroke. It mesmerizes me...

9. Tell us a little about your trip on the boat down the west coast?

It was an amazing experience, we were nervous before we set out although we have had lots of experience, this was something quite different. The boat and the crew did very well, and I find myself looking forward to our next long trip…. which may happen sooner than later, as we are looking to move up from our Northern Ranger 1 boat to a slightly larger Nordhavn. Which is great - more room for art supplies!

10. What was it like illustrating a HOW BOATS WORK for Mary Umstot?

It was fun working with Mary, and with Karla and Tony - I was honoured to be asked and because of it I made some very dear friends for life. The actual act of illustrating a children’s book, when I had never done it before and tend to be very lazy about painting - that was VERY interesting. Because I had a deadline and was committed, and also had to stick to the book and create illustrations for some pretty obscure things - I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to stay on task. Surprised myself ! I just set aside hours every day, worked out the drawings, settled into the paintings, and became my own harshest critic when it came to whether or not I was doing a good enough job. Of course I would go back and change a few things now if I could! but I learned a lot, most notably that in fact I could settle down get’er done.

Penny and Lawrence Talbot

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Karla Locke
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