I was the Project Artist during the Suffolk Cathedral Millennium Project – the building of the central tower at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - the crowning glory of which was the fan vaulted ceiling.
I like the quiet solitude of working in a place of work, in my own space with my work and my subject irrespective of the outside world. I am not a ‘quick sketch’ drawer. I like tone, light, dark, atmosphere and study. I like to model. I like to work at it.
Scissors on Velvet - 28cm x 40cm - Watercolour
All the drawings were done on site. I was on the scaffolding during the building of the tower itself and did balancing acts on stepladders to get close to the ceiling on the platforms 140ft up inside the tower. I then had a break of about 6 months before I started the paintings in the studio. The site drawings tell the story of the immediacy of the work whereas the paintings are a reflection on it.
Brushes on Cardboard - 28cm x 40cm - Watercolour
I work out what it’s going to be laid out like but am always hoping that the actual painting process will throw up interesting alternatives. I use masking fluid where I definitely do not want to put paint. Once off, I work on the masked areas to draw them back into the painting – otherwise they can be too harsh and, anyway, a lot of those areas need clean colour or need to be toned down anyway. So, it’s a build up of washes, always working on the complete painting, it’s a juggling process. I usually do complete overall washes at the end to draw everything into one – often with clear water and sometimes sprayed on from a spray bottle, allowed to soak in a touch and then covered with an absorbent cloth to prevent too much merging. This final thing often has to be done several days later to allow for some of the pigments to set well.
You can drift into a watercolour painting in a dreamy way; it floats, it glows, it has a subtle depth.
YouTube: Lillias at work in the Cathedral
Images and text © Lillias August 2011