Artist interview – Jan Gregson
This weeks artists interview is with Pembrokeshire Gallery Artist Jan Gregson.
An art lover since childhood, Gregson began painting in earnest after she moved to Pembrokeshire in 1978.
In those early days she worked hard to master watercolour, seeking total control over her chosen medium. A decade later, however, she decided to embrace mixed media – inks, acrylics and pastels – as a vehicle for better expressing her feelings for the Pembrokeshire landscape.
Originally from Lancashire, Gregson has developed an enduring love for the scenery of north Pembrokeshire. “It’s just magic,” she says. “I think you have to get to know the landscape well in order to paint it, and Pembrokeshire is changing all the time.
“I concentrate on quite a small area really; I like the coast as well as the inland areas, particularly the Preseli mountains. My aim is to capture that magic of Pembrokeshire. The light here is interesting, as it is in a lot of coastal areas. In the winter you’ve got long, sharp shadows which really excite me.”
Here is our interview with Jan Gregson:
· Firstly how is the lockdown affecting your work?
One would think having more time and less interruptions it would lead to more creative time. However, l find it is hard to settle with the present situation which is affecting all our lives at the moment
· Where do you get most of your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from the wonderful landscape of Pembrokeshire . Walking the coastal path armed with sketchbook and camera in all weathers, ready to capture fleeting moments of light and the changing seasons.
· Do you prefer to work outside/in your studio/a mixture of both?
I work back at home in my studio, referring to sketches l have made while outdoors . Working mostly with mixed media i.e acrylic, ink, pastel and charcoal. A painting can take many hours of building up layers to achieve the desired effect . Working in situ would not allow this process .
· Do you have a favourite painting that you have done? If so which one?
It would be difficult to pinpoint a particular painting as a favourite , every new work executed I strive for something better. Pwll Deri in the North of the county, is arguably one of the most dramatic views in the whole of Pembrokeshire . I never fail to find fresh inspiration when visiting the area. Therefore l would say the paintings of Pwll Deri and Penbwchdy head are favourites .
· How do you find titles for your paintings, does the idea come before or after?
Titles for paintings often spring into my head when I am actually sketching the view outdoors. The immediacy of the moment and my emotional response to the light and elements can give an instant image and a title.
· Who’s your favourite artist/artists?
There are so many artists past and present that I admire, it would be difficult to single one out. However, l was given a book some years ago on the American artist Andrew Wyeth, an artist I had not heard of at that time. I was fascinated by his choice of subjects and his use of Egg Tempera. Quite by chance when on holiday in Spain , l was delighted to see an exhibition of his work, l was not disappointed.
· Do you listen to music while you paint? If so what kind of music?
Music when I am working is a must. Some would see it as a distraction , for me it focuses my mind and blokes out any other unwanted sounds. It can be Classical FM, to favourite artists such as Joni Mitchell or David Bowie !
· What could you not do without in your studio?
The most important aspect in my studio is natural light. I work in a relatively small space in a room over the garage, natural light is essential. l find it very difficult in artificial light, even with daylight bulbs.
· How do you feel your work has changed over the years?
My work has changed enormously since l started painting the Pembrokeshire landscape some forty years ago. Initially l painted in watercolour , which is a very disciplined medium to work with and took many years to master. Today l enjoy the freedom and excitement that mixed media can bring. One never knows how a painting will end, as it changes constantly throughout the process .
· Is there a particular time/place or movement you feel influenced you the most?
With regret l did not attend Art College as a full time student. From a small child I have loved to paint and draw and enjoyed art classes and courses whenever possible. I was fortunate in 1978 to make my home in Pembrokeshire , leaving Lancashire where l was brought up. With all the stunning scenery on my doorstep,l started to paint and sell my work as well as taking art classes locally.
I have never tired of painting this wonderful county. In these times of lockdown, having to depend entirely on my sketchbook and past images, l will look forward to the time when we can all enjoy wonderful walks and views of this special part of Wales once