INTRIGUE: A mysterious or fascinating quality’

During the past year I have painted mountains and trees, builders and care home cleaners, people with halos, the Tay Rail Bridge and my tennis coach.

When I’m in the zone, I paint first and think later. And here I am ‘later’ thinking about how the above can possibly fit into a neat little box and be stamped with ‘Nicola Wiltshire’.

Well, maybe the box is neither little nor neat, but the stamp is fully inked and as clear as black on white. 

None of those subjects are my ‘Nicola Wiltshire’ stamp. They are simply the tools I use to explore the very reason I paint. And the reason I paint? Because of INTRIGUE. I am intrigued by what paint can do and I want people to be intrigued by what I paint.

1. SUBJECT. Take ‘Oil Slump’ for example (below image). I painted a builder, not because I paint builders, but because I opened my curtains one morning and there was a man stood on the wall in my garden. My immediate reaction was wonder what kind of surreal world I had woken up to. And then I took a photo. Intrigue allows space for mystery and ambiguity, which is the perfect starting point for storytelling within a painting.

2. TEXTURE. ‘Oil Slump’ is painted on a pink fabric printed with a turquoise and grey leaf design. When I make my work, I build up layers of paint and always leave behind a trace of each layer. The two leaves in the bottom left hand corner of ‘Oil Slump’ are not painted, but part of the design of the fabric. The texture of the painting becomes intriguing and the leaves hint at a process that can be unraveled. 

3. COLOUR. When we see a solid area of blue in a painting, we can assume fairly quickly it’s either the sea or the sky. But how about when the sky is a pinky orange and a shadow turns a wall into a diving board to infinity. Colour allows me to abstract the little games I play as I paint. Colour distorts everything enough so that the man with a bow and arrow becomes nothing more than an intriguing shape for you to read into.

‘Oil Slump’ is available to buy through Tignabruaich Gallery in Argyll, along with more of my work.

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