Di Guttridge’s work on exhibition at Staithes Gallery
Although her paintings are ultimately created in her studio, Di spends a lot of time working, thinking and reflecting in Staithes and the village is a crucial inspiration. This is what she says:
A fundamental aspect of being human is the desire to belong, to feel a universal connection. For me, painting is about connecting. The process of painting puts me in contact with the world around me, with my true self and with others.
Staithes is the place where I feel the strongest universal connection. I am particularly drawn to the rocky foreshore. Whenever I arrive in Staithes, I walk out over the exposed shoreline as soon as the tide allows. Standing there, I sense the power of the sea in front of me and feel the history of the ancient rock beneath me. My response is a feeling of joy, wonder and gratitude.
Having spent much time in this beautiful place over the past 25 years, I feel I am connected to a source of energy which is always with me and which feeds my creativity. My paintings are abstract landscapes which attempt to capture the spirit of the place. There may or may not be recognisable features of a specific location within a painting, but the essence of Staithes is always present. I also want to evoke a sense of duality between the drama and power of the environment and my calm, grounding emotional response.
Back in my studio in Northamptonshire, I paint in oils and cold wax, using the memories of felt experiences, photographs and sketches as my source. Mixing oil paint with cold wax medium produces a rich textured paste that can be manipulated using a variety of tools. Once it has been spread or rolled on, it can be worked in a multitude of ways. Many layers are built up over a period of time. Sometimes I paint wet in wet, sometimes I leave the painting to dry for several days before adding the next layer.
As each layer is overlaid, the paintings develop a history, which is disclosed through areas that have been scraped into or rubbed back. Solvent can be used to dissolve areas to reveal hidden segments. The wax also lends itself to creating translucency. Cold wax dries to a velvet, matt, textured finished surface which has lots of interesting detail, inviting close inspection and touch.
American artist Brian Rutenberg considers that every artist needs a ‘clear-seeing place’, where their connection to that place is more than nostalgia or memory, but is where their muse resides. Staithes is mine.