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Victoria Orr Ewing

Victoria Orr Ewing left her native Scotland to study fine art in London, before embarking on a peripatetic life, travelling and painting in Britain and Asia. She first came to Gaucin in 2000, and immediately fell under the spell of Andalucia’s wild, natural landscape, the sea views, sunshine and light.

She is known for her moody Scottish landscapes that show off the effect of light and shadow on water but still spends part of the year exploring new landscapes, and has staged solo and group exhibitions in Scotland, England, and Spain.

Interview with the artist:

Most of your landscapes and waterscapes are oil paintings: what is it about oil as a medium that appeals to you? Isn’t this a particularly difficult medium to master?

Oil is definitely my medium of choice. A lot of non-artists seem to be daunted by oil. But it is an easier medium to use than many others because it is far more malleable and versatile, and a lot of fun. It is endlessly manipulable, change is always possible whether you use it with soft brushes, thin it like a watercolour or apply it very thick with a palette knife and fingers. Of course it does need practice and study, if only to understand how to apply it.
I think it is difficult to get the richness and subtlety of colour that you can achieve with oil in other mediums. Oil takes a long time to dry, so it stays malleable longer, making it easier to achieve the soft edges I like in my work.

V Orr Ewing HP Loma del Mar H200

I used to do a lot of watercolour, and still love the way it is so immediate and loose, and very easy to use when you travel. When I first went to India I didn’t have a camera, just a set of watercolours and a sketchbook, so I painted a lot. I love charcoal too and tend to prefer brushes and ways of covering the surface fairly quickly rather than nibs.

You spent several months in Sri Lanka last year: What effect has that had on your work, and your use of light and shadow?

V Orr Ewing Text Insert 2 Sea Urchin W220

When I left Sri Lanka I wondered if it had been a mistake: I did not find the tropical landscape of the South very inspiring nor the light effects as sunset and sunrise are so fleeting there. But in retrospect I see that it pushed me to look elsewhere for my inspiration. I went back to studying small, natural forms.  I like to draw attention to the landscape and structure within pieces of nature, like a broken shell or a dried flower and by amplifying them, I make them almost become abstract, something recognised yet unexpected.

I also found myself painting the moody skies of the monsoon, not as backdrops to the paddy fields and palm trees, but instead as a more urban landscape with small groups of people looking out over the stormy seas. That is something I want to continue doing here on the Spanish coast – and that should be interesting given most people’s attitude to the costa!

A lot of your paintings are of Scottish landscapes and seem to capture the effect of light – usually thrown by a low-set sun – on water. What is it that appeals to you about the light effects you experience in Scotland, and how does the different light in southern Spain affect your work?

Growing up in Scotland I grew accustomed to the low light sandwiched between clouds and a glowering rugged landscape, and you find this quite often here in Spain too – the bands of lights and darks, strips of bright sky, shiny light reflected on water, pale mists and patches of sunlight touching horizons. These, in contrast to dark clouds and landscape, help achieve a strong abstract quality in a landscape. It is more important to me than where the landscape is or depicting a certain place.

I have been drawn to the wilderness, to landscapes with few or no signs of human presence. The landscape in some of Scotland, especially in winter, has the most extraordinary and beautiful colours and shapes, the bright bronze of dying bracken, ochre grasses, orange seaweeds against black rocks, purple heather. Lit by a low sun appearing from beneath a dark sky, these colours seem to glow with incredible richness. Rolling green fields never inspired me much.

V Orr Ewing Text Insert 3 Sunset W240

I find the light in Spain less soft but it can be just as magical. The weather can cause very dramatic effects and I am drawn to fleeting moments of atmospheric change, where a moment of beauty evaporates in an instant.

I like landscapes that remind us that we are small in the magnificence of the world and nature. I think it is similar with the natural forms I like to paint. When you look closely at a shell, a flower, a seed or a seedpod, the forms are awe-inspiring and incredibly beautiful – or as one of my favourite poets, William Blake, wrote, it allows us “To see the world in a grain of sand, And heaven in a wild flower”.

Education:

1982-1986 The City and Guilds of London Art: Graduated with Diploma of Fine Art Painting

Awards:

2006 1st prize 33rd Gibraltar International Art Competition
1995 Bank of Scotland Art prize
1986 Thomas Girtin watercolour prize

Selected Exhibitions:

2013 The Scottish Show, Panter and Hall, London
2012 Solo Exhibition, Panter and Hall, London
2011 The Scottish Show, Panter and Hall, London
2009 Solo Exhibition, Panter and Hall, London
2005 3 woman show, Atelier Gallery, Gaucín, Spain
2002 Summer exhibition New Grafton Gallery
2001 Solo exhibition, La Fructuosa, Gaucín
1996 Kitchen Art exhibition, Christopher Hull Gallery, London
Solo exhibition, Glassworks Film studio Soho, London
1995 Solo exhibition for Edinburgh Festival at Creelers
Banking on Art, Clachen Moor Gallery, Scotland
1993 Solo exhibition, Visage Film studio, London
1991 Solo exhibition, Black Bull Gallery, London
Selected for The Discerning eye exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
1988 The Sunday Times Watercolour exhibition Mall
1987 Festival exhibition, Byzantium Gallery, Edinburgh

Charity Exhibitions:

Save the Rhino
Art for Earth Action
Art for Youth
Jaisalmere in Jeopardy

Studio visits welcome by appointment

Tel: +34 607 494 730 (Mobile)
E-mail: voe@me.com
Web: www.victoriaorrewing.com