'Swimming Through Air' Oil, Acrylic, Pastel, Ink, Spray Paint On Canvas 150 X 100 Cm Header

Alison Critchlow is a contemporary British painter with a broad, investigative approach. She splits her time between studio practice and educational work- talks, collaborative projects and exhibitions. She is currently researching the work of Hedda Sterne with funding from Arts Council England. This period of creative exploration is opening up all sorts of new possibilities.

‘The field of painting is expanding in my mind to include poetry, art writing and philosophical enquiry. Taking Sterne’s lead, I am stepping into new artistic territory. Exciting times lie ahead!’

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Studio A Critchlow 2021

The Studio

I spend a lot of time outside, drawing, noticing, taking snaps on my phone and scribbling down notes in sketchbooks. This is a vital part of my practice. I think of it as stage one in a process. In the studio I take a much more abstract approach, letting the paint ‘lead the way’ to a point. I always start with a sense of something quite particular that I want to make a painting about and at some point the painting process takes over and I find myself making marks which intuitively respond to the emerging work.

I usually work on several paintings at a time, using all sorts of techniques and materials. The studio is a beautiful light bright space with an area for storing finished work out of the ‘splash zone’. I often work on the floor, pouring and dripping paint which then needs to dry flat and so it is practical to move between several paintings. I think of them as conversing with each other, and sometimes I deliberately work in series to explore an idea through several works – which inform each other and set up a sort of internal dialogue in my head. You can read more about my process in my blogposts here.

Some paintings are built up very slowly in layers, others will emerge quickly. I like to vary the pace and rhythm of the work – finding the perfect speed and weight of marks and colours to capture the essence of my subject. I am fascinated by this ‘language of paint’ the way smudges and thick clumps of pigment sit next to transparent pools of oil is an endless fascination. I seek to use the right materials and techniques to convey the spirit of the work.

I recently moved to live beside the Solway Firth, which I love. The shifting channels and tidal movements of the estuary seem to seep into my work. My studio is not normally open to the public except for once a year (normally the last two weekends in September) when I host an open studio event and then I welcome visitors to come and look around.