Interview with artist Germaine Dolan
PUBLISHED: 11:48 11 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:48 11 October 2016
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Canterbury artist Germaine Dolan on her love of colour, abstracts and the inspiration of the Sinai desert. Words by Diana Crampton. Pictures by: Manu Palomeque
Germaine Dolan has had several studios in Kent, from Molash to Canterbury, where she now works in a very busy third-floor studio “with a fantastic view of beech trees, magpies, squirrels; it’s the best studio I’ve ever had.”
Trained at Canterbury College of Art from 1970-1973, Germaine immediately had her own show at The Beaney in Canterbury in 1974.
Benefiting from an exchange programme, she was lucky enough to also exhibit in Italy.
“Because art doesn’t always pay, I have had to teach, I have been a secretary, picked fruit. Now I am officially retired, so I can concentrate on painting, but the income is unpredictable.”
Germaine lived and worked in London for 18 years, but prefers Canterbury. “It is near the country and more beautiful. It seems to be a trend: painters moving out of London.
“I’m a country girl at heart, the country is more inspiring because it’s generally physically more beautiful.”
“I have always wanted to paint. My brother bought me my first oil paints at the age of 10, and it is what I have always wanted to do, I knew all the time, from that moment on,” she says.
For her, formal art training is important. “You get to meet other painters and you need that exchange and criticism so you have to clarify your ideas. Working on your own, there’s nobody to tell you when it’s rubbish.”
Germaine’s preferred medium now is acrylic but she works in a lot of mixtures and has spent much of the last 35 years in the Sinai desert, where the sand mixes well with the mediums and gives a nice colour. Acrylics dry fast.
So how does Germaine choose what to paint? “Every painting leads to another. It could be anything, I see a truck passing with orange and blue squares, for instance.”
Indeed, it does seem to be colour that’s the major inspiration for Germaine, and her abstracts express the bright, perhaps even lurid, light of the desert areas she chooses to go to.
However, her abstracts are replete with interesting and unusual forms, and the colour combinations are strong and intriguing – despite her dislike for the term ‘abstract.” She tells me: “I think it is all very real, it’s all about texture, about the paint, the marks, not an illusion in the way figurative painting is.” But there are problems with painting abstract, she admits.
“It’s always a struggle because it’s got to be an adventure, so they worry you to death until finally right. I work on paintings for months usually, working on several at once, and not necessarily painting, but looking at and asking ‘what does it need’?”
I ask Germaine if she has a ritual before she starts each new painting. “I mix a lot of colours first, I put in sand and various other things like sparkle, matte paint, a good selection of what I am excited by at the moment, and then I get cracking.”
The sizes can be anything from 18 x 12 cms to 10 x 5 feet, which is perhaps the biggest she does. “I like to change the size, because it does make a difference.”
She doesn’t have a favourite painting and in response to the question of which was the most exciting work she had done, Germaine says it is the one she is painting at the moment. “I never stop until I think they’re marvellous, that’s arrogant, but I have to think it!”
Germaine’s inspiration is colour “I have always loved colour and the movement of paint. I do a lot of splashing and dribbling, and watching paint dry is fascinating to me! I have had so much joy looking at other people’s work, it has been a major part of my life.”
So what one colour would Germaine choose to paint with if forced to restrict? “It will have to be red, it’s the colour of life, I think, the colour of the earth.”
In effect, the earliest reds were rare and expensive, deriving from the cochineal beetle and often used for royal or official garb as dyes.
Germaine’s advice to a young artist is to do lots of drawing: “The more you do, the more you see.” Not just a painter but also a poet and musician, take a look at the interview with Germaine on YouTube and come along to see her work in Deal.
Get in touch
See Germaine’s work in the Winter Group Show at Linden Hall Studio, 32 St George’s Road, Deal CT14 6BA, from 7 December to 29 January, 01304 360411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.