This image depicts two sleeping cats. The style is simple and the overall impression is of a lazy and quiet moment. However, there is a slight movement, created by the alternating colours and lines, similar to a sleeping breath.
Blackadder enjoys working on several paintings at a time and does not like to plan her work but rather prefers to let it take its own course. In this way her work is never predictable and always exciting. She will often leave a painting unfinished in order to reflect and think of new ideas in order to revisit the piece to develop it further. Blackadder likes her work to evoke meaning for others, allowing the viewer their own choice of interpretation. She tries to create a mood in her paintings, from her own recollections and memories. Her finesse and attention to detail is reflected in the quality of her work. She works with a large range of colours and this lends itself well to the painting of flowers. Her fascination for painting this subject began at an early age and led to studies of botanical illustrations and paintings inspired by people such as Ehret and Bauer Brothers. Blackadder’s paintings show great diversity. She has the capacity to be lucid with her paintbrush which in contrast to the detailing of her work makes an unusually balanced painting. She is relentless in finding new ways to make her painting texturally sound and enjoys trying to capture and create the vivid colours.
Composition is also a major factor in the success of her paintings, incorporating shapes, structure and distance. Her paintings are normally derived from unfinished sketches and she tends to steer clear from photographs, in order to be selective. She feels a photograph can show too much and does not want this to reflect on her art. Culture, traveling and collecting memorabilia have all played a part in her creative process. Her trips to Japan had a huge impact on her work and creative thinking. She paints collections of Kimonos and other Japanese objects, fascinated by the colours and textures they possess. Blackadder also experiments with Japanese, Chinese or Indian hand-made paper, combining both paper texture and subject matter to strengthen the composition. She incorporates a strong textured paper and makes this part of the painting so it is visible to the viewer.
Elizabeth Blackadder was born in Falkirk in 1931. She is today one of Britain's most renowned artists and was the first woman to be elected as a member of the Royal Scottish Academy as well as the Royal Academy. She paints in oil and watercolours and has worked with printmakers on a variety of printing techniques. Her sensitivity to her surroundings has inspired many still life paintings, as well as many portraits of her cats, where she captures the paraphernalia around her studio and her domestic interior in compositions tending towards the abstract. The objects featured in her paintings are often those she collected during her many travels in Europe and in the East. The space between objects and their resonance with each other hold a great fascination for her.
Philip Long Elizabeth Blackadder, National Galleries of Scotland, 2011.