There's always next year
Here and There
This is the third solo exhibition at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw by Groeslon based artist Stephen J. Owen and we are delighted to welcome his colourful canvases to brighten up the long winter days and give us a wealth of colour to enjoy.
With his sketchbook a constant companion Stephen goes here and there observing the world about him, be it a striking sunset, the whitethorn awash with flowers, the chat between the gardeners on the allotment, the birds passing overhead or the line of washing drying in the sunshine. The artist's eye is busy recording and celebrating, enabling us to look anew at the ordinary things in the world around us.
The exhibition contains a variety of works – from the colourful majestic landscape canvases and series of smaller ones of houses or buildings, sometimes with people going about their daily lives, to a series of canvases of particular places, footpaths or woods that are familiar to the artist. The painting style used varies as well. From the confident wide brush marks that border on the abstract to the more detailed paintings of people, Stephen's work is constantly changing, a freedom of experiment constantly underpinned with a confident and inimitable use of colour.
As Stephen himself says 'there are no half-measures', no compromise. He has a clear idea when starting the work how he wants it to look at the end. The deliberations already done in his head and sketchbook, there is a fantastically assured touch to his brush marks and strong colours.
Colours can evoke strong feelings and emotions – the use of the dark and light has been a feature in art through the centuries and the expressive potential of different colours come to the fore here. The strong violet colour in Stephen's paintings create a particular atmosphere and mood, as in the sky in Glaw Foryd Bach, the sky and slopes in Yr Wyddfa a Crib Goch or the rooftops in Twthill. This last painting perfectly conveys the power of colour to change the atmosphere as Stephen has painted this scene many times, a different palette of colours giving a different feel to each painting.
Red, another strong colour that evokes emotion, is obvious here too – in the land in 'Rha Y Foryd and Storm Y Foryd the land and sky in the intense sunsets in Llainffynnon and Ar ôl y glaw. The Foryd by Caernarfon is an important place for the artist, one of several locations around his home in Groeslon that the artist goes walking regularly. Llif Cwm Idwal and Afon Seiont are familiar rivers as well. The paint brush flows freely.
The weather comes under scrutiny in works such as Storm Enlli and Glaw Minafon or the changing seasons in Gwanwyn ar y Fferm, Glas y Gog a Coed y Parc. The use of marks and colour in Y Llwybr and Gwawr Llyn Parc not only convey perspective and atmosphere but demonstrate again how familiar and comfortable the artist is with his subjects and locality. In the exhibition in the downstairs gallery responding to the life and work of R S Thomas a reference is made to The Bright Field, one of the poet's most famous works where he 'captures' those particular seconds when a blade of sunshine bathes a field or particular place, creating a special moment. In Stephen Jones' work we have a wealth of those special moments.
Stephen John Owen was born in Caernarfon in 1959. A self-taught artist, his art teacher William Selwyn was a big influence and although he followed other career paths when he left school art remained important to Stephen and today he takes classes and workshops and shares his information and skills with others. His popular work is known to many and can be found in many private collections in Wales and further afield.