Lizzie Black

I am a landscape painter living in Mousehole, Cornwall. Rooted in a tradition of plein air painting, my work follows the changing patterns of the day, season and weather scape. I strive to capture transitory moments of light, colour, tide and time, and to communicate its beauty and magic on canvas. My formal background in painting was acquired at Bristol Polytechnic and Falmouth School of Art, and I have exhibited extensively in Cornwall and the West Country.

My family arrived in Cornwall in 1976 as part of a wave of new artists relocating to Penwith. In particular they were attracted to the thriving art scene, history of painting, light and landscape. They ran the Mounts Bay Arts Centre for 20 years offering painting holidays to guests from all parts of the world. My father Bernard Evans, previously an abstract artist, soon dropped this practice to paint outside particularly in Newlyn harbour.

As a young child I accompanied my father on painting trips and watched him work in his studio. My first oil painting was of Prussia Cove at the age of thirteen. In this way, I was drawn into life as a painter. Subsequently I attended art school before re-joining my parents as a tutor at their school.

Raising a family took me away from my work, but in recent years I have returned to my passion of plein air painting.

Painting within the landscape is an utterly absorbing art practice. By working onsite my aim is not to copy, but to find a way of communicating experience. This might be the physical activity of movement, sound, wind or light changes. In some respect I seek to unlearn what I know and describe the subject objectively and without prejudice.

Preparation is crucial with a trolley loaded with an easel, pochade box, paints, rags, brushes, canvases sun hat etc. Painting outside brings with it a certain ceremony and protocol. I am aware that if I forget just one item then the trip has to be abandoned.

I have a number of favourite locations that I often revisit, such as a corner in Mousehole at high tide on a sunny late afternoon or Newlyn harbour in the morning as the fishermen return with their catch. Sometimes I drive past a scene with plans to return at the same time the next day, yet find that the view has changed entirely. Occasionally a rigorously planned painting results in a disaster, but unbeknownst an unexpected surprise lay just behind me all along.

The scene changes constantly. While out painting, the wind is the most tenacious trickster. It can upturn the easel or even blow the canvas away and face down onto the sand (on at least one occasion). Currently I have access to my father’s old studio, which is a tranquil and inspiring space.

Recently I have introduced a human element into my work, rising to the challenge of another layer of movement. I wish for these figures to be part of the landscape and to blend naturally into their surroundings. On some occasions I will often paint multiple canvases. Psychologically this lessens the pressure of producing an authoritative piece and frees up my own movements.

I have learnt a great deal from other artists’ work in this arena and beyond. Ultimately though I believe it is essential to remain authentic and true to oneself. I am happiest out painting every day, being constantly inspired by the surrounding landscape of Cornwall, and feel privileged to live and work where I am.

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Boat Returns to Mousehole