"Summer Evening Light June" oils by Susie Monnington

I grew up around the river – my parents and grandparents farmed the Lewes Brooks. It was when I started canoeing that I got a totally different perspective on something so familiar.

I’ve now spent a few years paddling, walking and drawing up in the “Wilderness”, closely observing the river’s mood changes and how it completely alters character through different times of day, weather and seasons. It is these shifts in mood that I have tried to capture through the play of colour and light. What has resulted is an intimate collection of oil paintings reflecting a year of change on the Ouse: The stillness of winter, the chaos of spring, the intensity of high summer.

This collection of work explores the play of surface light and colour, but there is also an undercurrent linking the work with my agricultural roots and memories of going to check the cows with my father. I didn’t plan this; it emerged through the process of making the work.

I start by making lots of rapid studies from the water, which I work up in the studio before moving onto the paintings. I try to keep my work fresh and fluid by having a lot of paintings on the go; it stops me getting too tied up with one painting. I like the informality of working small, having lots on the go and having to finish each mini collection quickly in order to keep up with the river’s changes.

I am learning to accept my many failures and trying to catch the ones that work before I kill them or bin them. The hardest thing for me as an artist is finding the discipline to let paint dry before re-working and to not push into wet paint which can so quickly kill any sense of light and life.

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