Meeting Berkshire artists Caroline Hulse and Richard Picton
PUBLISHED: 14:12 28 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:12 28 February 2014
Claire Pitcher meets two artists with very different styles but who share the same inspiration - the beautiful countryside and bustling towns of the Royal County
I love Berkshire; I think I know the county backwards having lived here for over 50 years,” enthuses artist Caroline Hulse. Living in Caversham Heights, Caroline is perfectly situated to explore the county – discovering her next subject to paint. “My favourite places are any woodland areas, of which there are many in Berkshire. I love the atmosphere of Windsor, the innovation of Bracknell, the allure of the River Thames at Maidenhead and the tradition of little old villages around Pangbourne and West Berkshire.”
Caroline started painting at the age of just three: “I thought everyone saw the world as a series of lines, shapes and colour and didn’t realise I was different until I was about eight years old.” She entered and won a plethora of art competitions while growing up, and painting has been her life ever since: “I think I was born an artist,” Caroline laughs. “I like to put my own style into everything I do. An art dealer coined the phrase ‘original impressionism’ in a review of my work. I like to make an ‘impression’ of something but to retain the depth, intensify the colour and give a ‘full on’ perspective of all my subjects.”
Caroline has also been described as a ‘Master Painter’ in International Artist magazine: “I hope it means I am accomplished, able and successful. I teach painting too, and have the ability to see what is needed to correct a painting. Painting is about knowing how to look, interpret and create. First there is ‘creation’ and then there is ‘skill’ to be able to convey the image you have in your head.”
This Master Painter has discovered many places in the county that offer inspiration, Moor Copse nature reserve near Tidmarsh for instance, which is associated with the Wind in the Willows, is “a wonderful place to sketch. There is so much variety of landscape, bluebells in the spring and mainly ash and oak trees with wonderful shape and tone.” Sulham Woods near Tilehurst is another favourite: “Full of dense beech trees, which never fail to inspire me.
Burnham Beeches is another choice of Caroline’s: “Especially in the autumn, I think beech trees are the most exciting in colour and contrast, those fantastically strong trunks with frail bows of leaves - stunning and exciting. But quite frankly, as long as you learn ‘to look’, there are wonderful trees and foliage all around you - just driving down the M4 inspires me with the fields and trees all about you,” she says.
Caroline’s studio is full to bursting with bright and beautiful impressions of Berkshire, with so many to choose from, it’s difficult to settle on a favourite: “I painted a picture which I called ‘Spring Garden’. It was a copse of trees, I think on public ground near Bracknell. It was spring and there was a magnificent pale blue tree growing through the trees. The colour was magnificent and the tone was just stunning. I’ve actually had about 10 commissions for the painting and now it’s in homes as far afield as Italy and the USA.”
After so many years painting the county it’s hard to believe there are still places Caroline is yet to paint: “I would love to visit The Mill at Tidmarsh. It was the home for Lytton Strachey, Dora Carrington and the Bloomsbury group for many years. You can no doubt feel the presence of Lytton and Dora – I would like to paint lots of pictures of the mill, as good as those painted by Dora Carrington.”
To view Caroline’s work you can visit the JoeDaisy Studio in Mapledurham where she has a gallery on the top floor. She will be exhibiting at the Reading and Windsor Art Fairs or you can visit her website at www.wallflower.co.uk
Originally from Wales, Richard Picton’s love affair with Berkshire has been going on for the last 35 years – ever since he moved to Reading in the 70s with his family. Like Caroline, he first picked up a paintbrush when he was a toddler: “All children love making a mess with paints and most carry on drawing and painting until about 12. They then realise that what they are trying to reproduce doesn’t resemble the thing they are attempting to put on to a two dimensional surface and promptly give up.” Richard didn’t stop however; he continued dabbling through his teens and continues to the present day.
As you can no doubt tell from Richard’s paintings, the river is one of his favourite subjects: “I live in a house less than half a mile away from the Thames at Reading and that is one of my main inspirations.” When he’s not walking the Thames Path Richard will take to two wheels to find his next subject: “I’ve explored much of Berkshire on bicycle. I do drive but have never owned a car. Cycling is ideal for exploring the countryside. There is the obvious drawback of transporting oil painting and equipment around so I tend to sketch and always have a camera. I particularly like the area west of Newbury, places such as Kintbury and Inkpen.”
Indeed, West Berkshire seems to be his particular favourite: “I would like to spend more time around the Lambourn area. I love the Ridgeway Path and the scenery it passes through and would really like to do a series of paintings featuring the Ridgeway. It’s older than the Roman roads of this country and that has an appeal for me too,” he says.
However it isn’t a painting of somewhere in the west of the county that he would choose as his favourite piece, as he reveals: “It has to be Caversham Promenade. There’s not a great amount of detail in it but I feel I have included enough to get the general feel of the location over to the viewer without making it look too fussy and overcrowded and I’m generally happy with the composition. The original painting is in New York.”
A few handpicked pieces of Richard’s are on display at The Royal Berkshire Hospital from Sunday, 2 March through to Saturday, 26 April. You can also see examples of his oil paintings at www.pictonart.com.