Why were these paintings painted?

On 16th December 2019 I visited the Art Gallery Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. I had visted the Gallery a few days before to enjoy a private and close-up inspection of printmaking by Durer, Kollwitz and Rembrandt. The visits were made even more memorable because I discovered the work of Australian artist Arthur Streeton and I also stumbled across a Vuillard painting of which I had no previous knowledge.

The Gallery had borrowed a collection of Impressionist works from The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. Many folk were attracted to the works of Monet and Pissaro and whilst there was nothing wrong with these works, I was immediately drawn to an Edouard Vuillard painting of two children in a room. The work is simply titled, “Children In A Room”. The Hermitage website describes the work as follows:

“Vuillard is the last Impressionist of the 20th century. He was interested in the light and colour interaction within the intimate space of a room, while his predecessors were engaged in representing this interaction in the open air. In the artist’s works interiors are rather an emotional medium penetrated with comfort and tranquillity than a background for his characters (in this case depicted are probably Vuillard’s nephews). A balcony or a window depicted in the background is one of his most important devices: the diffused light flowing from the outside fills the interior, absorbing bright colours and transforming the shapes into a decorative patch; and only the contours of the carpet, screen and balcony railings, which form the structural basis of the composition, are left well defined.”

This painting attracted absolutely no attention from other visitors during the time that I was there…which was fortunate for me as I was able to fully immerse myself into it for quite some time. I love the light, I love the strong horizontals and verticals that provide such a stable composition, I love the outside space, I love the sense of depth and space of the interior, I love the colours and I love the overall ambiance, mood and atmosphere of the painting. If ever there is a work of art that finds the profound in the mundane then surely this is it! In some ways it reminds me a little of Pierre Bonnard’s “The Bowl Of Milk” in The Tate, UK.Vuillard’s “Children In A Room” was to become a subconscious inspiration four and a half years later. The reason I was in Australia was to visit my son, Jack and his partner, Teresa. On our return to the UK we encountered the COVID pandemic and my son and his partner then seemed even further away. Jack and Teresa were married during COVID and on 4th July 2022 their son Luca Lorenzo Marsh was born. It is a long story but in 2023, Teresa and Luca were in the UK and visited my wife and I in Bolton on more than one occasion. It was wonderful to spend time with them both and we felt extremely privileged to be able to just watch Luca at play. The painting “Children In A Room” was never very far away from my subconscious and the combination of light, traditional wooden toys in bright colours, the strong horizontals and verticals of the room, the outside space, the interior space and being able to experience the development of a small child, particularly our first grandchild with whom we rarely have the opportunity to spend time, provided me with the inspiration to paint Luca Lorenzo Marsh. Whether or not I could achieve the profound from the seemingly mundane is not for me upon which to speculate…but I knew I HAD to paint this scene.

What followed was a long period of working out the compositions of the four paintings and the two monotypes. There were significant changes to the scenes in order to make them work as paintings…real life rarely presents itself as successful art! There will also be two “ghost” monotypes¬† but one is still a work in progress as I am working into it with mixed media. Thank you, Edouard Vuillard, thank you Jack Marsh and Teresa Sepede-Marsh and an extra special thank you to Luca Lorenzo Marsh..these are what you have collectively inspired:

Light streams into a room where a child plays
Play Of Light No1

 

Light from a French window illuminates a room
Play Of Light No2

 

A young child is silhouetted against a patio door

Play Of Light No.3

 

A grandma blows bubbles for her grandson
Play Of Light No4

 

woman and child in a sun streaked interior

Play Of Light No.5

 

 

Child at paly

Play Of Light No.6

 

child at play in sun streaked room

Play Of Light No.7

 

woman and child playig in a sun streaked room

Play Of Light No.8