Sue Faux grew up on a farm near Martinsell in the area of Marlborough, Wiltshire. This is her story and the story of her Wiltshire Landscapes. Cards and prints are available from Faux Arts Online and for purchase in the shop at 30, The Parade, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1NE. Sue also offers the most comprehensive programme of art classes for all age groups see Art Classes in Marlborough
My aversion of green…
“I went up to Martinsell to paint the landscape from the age of nine. I sat up there but never felt I got it right. The colours or the dimensions, nothing was quite right. I persevered with it until I was 14. When I was nine I sold pastel landscapes and my Dad said to keep painting them because they were really nice. Unfortunately, I didn’t like green so that was a problem. I painted quite a lot of them and earned £10 a sketch – a lot of money for a nine year old!
I spent a year in Austria before University and that peaked my interest in Medieval Art. At University I studied Fine Art and painted Nudes and the Death Dances, but I still had to get over my aversion of green.
I resumed painting landscapes about 10 years ago and they sold. The people who came to see them were the farmers and landowners who were intimately familiar with every dimension of the field, every lump of soil, every plant and tree, every stone and every piece of grass in the area.
They were really picky and would say “this is not right and that is not right”. My most ardent critics…but equally, the first to buy my paintings.
Technically correct vs creating different moods
When a painting is technically correct you can lose the soul of the place, so I changed things to emphasize certain aspects of each landscape. I asked myself, how much could I change the dimensions of a specific field for instance and I wondered how much I could get away with.
I painted the space and thought: how can I make it look when it looks wild, or when it looks soft; how can I make that windy sleety day look awful?
My aim was to be accurate to the spirit of the place, but some objects are exaggerated to create different moods and evoke an emotional impact from the viewer. For instance, I would photograph an object like a tree struck by lightning to get specific details.
The viewer is in the picture
So I like people to feel like they are actually IN the landscape, not that they are viewing the landscape from a distance and for that to happen, all the detail needs to come right up under your feet like you’re there, taking you right into the picture.”
Wiltshire Landscapes by Artist Sue Faux
“I wanted to reflect how really bleak Martinsell is in the winter. The trees at the top are slightly sinister and you want an element of that, you can nearly hear the trees rattling in the wind. Then there is the wood at the back and that is where home is, where safety is, but from this vantage point something could easily ‘devour’ me.”
BLUEBELLS IN STARLINGS WOOD
“When you walk into a wood with bluebells everything is moving gently in the breeze. The light coming through the trees moves on the floor and you have an eruption of flowers which are quite slimy and shiny but they are all ‘wiggling’. The wiggles are to show the knotting of the bluebells together and when you walk on them they get tired and the blue changes; as they get older they get darker.
This wood is opposite the house. I played in it and my kids play in it – we all walk through it every day so it’s very familiar. Nonetheless, the wood changes every time we go in. This painting made me practice leaves – and I like the light lime green of these leaves which gives a sense of freshness at Spring time.
While I paint the view, I sit on my stool and holler to my kids to please bring me a cup of tea!”
“I continued to feel the need to practice my greens so I painted the long track down to the farm. When we moved there, Dad was going to put a cattle grid in but it never happened. The track is unusual because it’s made of concrete. It has lots of cracks because of the tractors and the lorries that go over it. So this was the view coming home. Mum planted the trees.
I painted it because I had to create something green and because we see this every day. This is home.”
“Many years ago, my Uncle Toby, also a farmer, planted a field of sunflowers to feed to the cows. He also wanted me to paint the sunflowers for my Uncle David. They had to wait for me to finish the painting until they could cut down the flowers, so no pressure!
My Dad also grew sunflowers that served as pheasant cover (but he also really likes sunflowers) so I painted this from one of those sunflower strips.”
“As I said before, I have tried to paint that view for a long time. But I feel happy with this one. For the picture, I had to squash it to reflect the whole view and I have always loved Dandelions (we picked them to make wine). Another milestone for me is that this picture has all the range of greens – hurrah!”
“I painted this landscape at about the same time as MARTINSELL IN MAY because my grandfather had a picture of Martinsell that I loved. It also meant so much to him as he spent a lot of time in this area around the farm when he was young.”
“We always had these flowers on our table at home.”