Anyone living in and driving around the West Suffolk countryside will surely recognise the work of Paul Evans. Thatched cottages by roadsides; churches viewed across ploughed fields; pastures full of flowers; twisting and rutted footpaths – it’s all there in his vivid paintings. The bold splashes of colour catch the eye but be sure to pick out and appreciate the clever detail too. His summer images almost radiate warmth, the sort of blissful, balmy days that take you back to childhood.
I don’t know whether the azure skies and flower speckled meadows make this an easy time of year to portray but winter certainly doesn’t limit Paul’s creativity. Here we are in the colder months, and Paul, as his latest collection of paintings proves, is truly a man for all seasons. He gets to grips with a so called barren time of year, coaxing wonder out of seemingly ordinary settings and, on first glance, limited colour palettes.
“I suppose I was most interested in focusing on winter for this exhibition as we finally had a good fall of snow this year,” he says. “It was so refreshing to see the landscape under a good covering of the white stuff that I walked the local fields and got as much reference as possible while it was here. The light reflecting off the snow is so changeable and unique, and a joy to paint.”
If you think the cold months denude the landscape of colour Paul sees it differently, and the pictures in this book splendidly back up his case.
“Surprisingly, there is far more colour in a snow covered landscape than most people realise. It reflects the light back, and so if there is a particularly stunning sunset the snow will glow with the colour. And then on a very grey, dull day the colour drains from the landscape, but then the focus is the bare bones of trees, and to show the cold crisp weather in the paintings. A lot of people have said that they’d always assumed that the landscape is only grey and white in winter and are quite surprised when they see my work which has far more colour than they expect – often they come back to the gallery saying that they’ve noticed the colours in the landscape for the first time after becoming aware of them through the paintings.”
He points out that it is the light which can pinpoint something specific in a landscape amongst the greys and whites. It might just be leeting moments as the light moves.I wonder if he is on reconnaissance during the spring and summer to see if somewhere might work well as a winter vista.
“Most often the places I paint are ones that I know very well indeed, which I walk through during the seasons,” he says. “They get under my skin, and so they are the same places I walk to in the snow. Each place is the same, but different, according to the season, and I enjoy the dramatic variation one particular place can show me. My aim is to then translate these kaleidoscopic changes into my painting, to give a true sense of place in my work.”
Study his work at his end of year exhibition in Lavenham and you won’t be surprised to learn Paul’s paintings are a magazine designer’s dream. Rich colours, a variety of perspectives, and images that brilliantly showcase rural and coastal Suffolk as well as several other parts of England too (he often paints in Cornwall, Devon and the South Coast).
He has his imitators, people who may try and mimic his style, but there is only one Paul Evans, Suffolk artist. Long may that continue.