“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

Firstly, I’d just like to say a big “THANK YOU” for all the feedback on my new website. My husband did a great job creating this, and I’m really pleased with it, but it’s lovely to hear that others like it as well!

  We all know a single image can convey complex ideas and meanings – often more effectively than words alone. But how much should an artist try to articulate what they are looking to communicate with their work? 

I raise the question but don’t have the answer. It seems that the art community is very split – some artists feel that the image should speak for itself. You should allow the viewer to put their own interpretation on the work. Others believe you can increase the appeal of a painting by giving people more of an emotional hook by explaining its meaning and purpose.

What I do know is that talking about your work requires effort,  and until recently, it was something I tended not to do. I was happy to describe how I made it – focusing on the process and techniques, but that doesn’t really convey an emotional connection. And, unless you are another artist, probably doesn’t tell you a great deal about the piece.

I’m not sure if the barrier is because it’s difficult, or a fear of sounding pretentious and foolish.

I DO know when I post images on Instagram with comments conveying what I was trying to communicate, they get a more positive reception from followers.  (I have to say that I don’t always do this, as I’m often too keen to share what I’ve been working on, but it is definitely something I’m trying to get better at).

So here goes! A couple of paintings along with more of the “why” behind them. 

And the big question – does this make you look at the work differently?  I’d love to know

Completed in August 2020

Cool Depths - an abstract painting by Nicola Young
Cool Depths

What Sparked this Idea?

I wanted to capture the crystal clear water left in a rock pool once the tide had gone out, which I spotted on one of my coastal walks. I just loved the contrast of the fluid water and the solidity of the rocks. That contrast perfectly summed up how I was feeling: at that particular time, in that place – calm and detached from the noise of everyday life, the demands of work and stresses of COVID.  In part a sense of tranquillity but also vibrancy.  It is built up with layers of paint, so it invites you to touch, and I wanted people to get a sense of feeling connected, feeling uplifted while at the same time calm

Completed in May 2020

Spring Meadow III - an abstract image by Nicola Young

I created a series of Spring Meadow paintings during lockdown – this painting is one of four. While I didn’t experience the levels of anxiety that I know many people felt during this weird period of confinement, the experience did impact me. This impact was both positive (not travelling several hundred miles each week for work), and negative (separation from loved ones, and running the gauntlet of supermarket shopping for ourselves and parents). 

Another positive was the general slowing down of life which made me much more observant about the environment around me. As the weeks passed, it was lovely to see brighter days and the landscape coming into bloom.  Because of this transition, I was drawn to brighter, more joyful colours – a sharp contrast with the mood, and a great signpost of optimism and hope.

Art piece by Nicola Young displayed in a dining room environment

When I’m at home, I usually manage to squeeze in a daily walk.  We have two well-trodden routes, one slightly longer than the others for days when the weather is good.  The first (shorter walk) takes us around the bay and across the rocks with amazing panoramic views of the North Sea. The second is a brisk walk into Tynemouth, with a return along Longsands beach.

We have now walked these routes for almost a year (November – September). It is fascinating how different the environment is depending on the time (of year or even day!) or weather conditions.

In the summer, the beach is pretty much deserted first thing in the morning except for a few committed dog walkers, paddle boarders or yoga fans. Later in the day, you find a much livelier scene.  The expanse of sand is peppered with little tents and windbreaks, where families have set up for a day of sunshine. The sea is full of surf school groups kitted out in wet-suits and, of course, even more dog walkers! It’s lovely to see the area brought to life with pops of bright colour.  This painting was inspired by that scene in the summer months.  While I haven’t included any figurative elements, the presence of people is there in the shapes and colours of their possessions.

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