October Residency: Julienne Braham

October Residency: Julienne Braham
  • Tuesday 19th November -

October Residency: Julienne Braham

For the final week of our October Residency we passed the Old School to Julienne Braham. Julienne has exhibited in numerous joint shows, including RA summer exhibitions and The RWA, and she has regular solo shows in London, Cardiff and the Welsh Marches where she now lives.

'My paintings are essentially celebratory. I aim to seek empathy with the subject and to express the forms, dynamics and 'soul' as I perceive them, with an economy of means.  Since moving from Harrow, Middlesex, to a farm in Radnorshire, my subject matter has become more pastoral, influenced by new surroundings - the landscape, animal life and cloudy Welsh skies.'

After The Tempest, Bleddfa (28th Oct – 1st Nov)

Arriving at Bleddfa as Artist in Residence was like being washed up on a tropical island following a tempestuous time at sea!  After a torrential weekend (5 ins of rain over 25 hrs) our house was awash with muddy water from the hills. We bailed out for a day and had several pumps working for the following days and nights.  Rugs and underlay were draped over ladders in the pole barn..

Day 1: 

An excuse to leave the chaos at home, I arrived at the Old School physically exhausted, from cold damp house to warm bright refuge.

Having had no time to plan the week’s painting this opportunity presented itself as a peaceful, creative haven – to work without restraint or interruption in a light, airy space. Being an opportunist and enjoying living 'in the moment', I was open to any creative path that beckoned.

Being a sunny, dry day (hooray!) exploration of the surroundings seemed appropriate. The river in spate became a lively, challenging composition.  Fleeting light over distant farm buildings in a valley of bronze and green was appealing, so I gathered sketches (and mushrooms!) for an afternoon session in the studio.

Day 2: 

Sun and cloud today – the rest of the week is forecast dull with more rain!  So another morning in the great outdoors, this time walking my 'weasel' (easel on wheels) towards Monaughty. My favourite view of Bleddfa is from the A488 looking up towards the village, seeing the Mill House across the meadows. 

Though I often paint with a semi-abstract approach, the most absorbing times for me are working from direct observation outdoors. A recent theme this autumn has been “Keeping the sheep company”, so that was my occupation today.

Geese, ducks and hens often surround this mysterious looking house.They are always great shapes to draw and often very comic; three geese were crossing  a little footbridge back and forth, having a good preen on the way!

Day 3: 

Just intended a brisk walk between showers today, making a few thumb nail sketches, but I spent a good hour untangling a hefty sheep from a wire fence 'trap' in a gully and then trying to find the farmer as it couldn’t stand up and needed attention. I knocked on several doors and met some lovely residents!

Day 4:   

Halloween! A day in the studio on this dark damp end to October. I decided to explore different media – a sort of controlled experiment – taking a composition from my sketchbook and using an off-square format.

I started with line drawing and moved on to tone using graphite, ink and wash, watercolour, then oil paint. Some results were more successful than others, not necessarily improving with practice or familiarity with the subject.

This rather spooky Halloween version may be one of the better paintings (?)

Day 5:  

Carrying on with the 'St Mary Magdalene’s Church' theme I spent my last day in the centre working on a 2ft square canvas. Building up the painting using layers of thin wash then adding thicker paint, rubbing off and putting on more, I tried to draw together the elements that worked from the series: an energy of line flowing through the composition, a rich unity of tone, tension between shapes, immediacy of approach, the excitement of transient colour giving focus and interest. It has a long way to go and probably looked best in the early stage! I could do with another week here!

Julienne Braham

You can follow Julienne on Instagram @brahamjulienne