This painting immediately commands attention. The luminous white tablecloth with its sharp folding lines seems to be floating, ghost-like, against the sky blue background. It supports a vase with white roses and a glass dish with lemons. The horizontal composition is based on the classic Golden Ratio where the vase, flowers, bowl and fruit occupy the top third of the picture and the tablecloth the other two thirds. Freda Blackwood has enhanced these visually pleasing proportions with a vertical rise which takes the eye up the oblique edges of the tablecloth, along the pyramid of the lemons on one side and the tilting flowers on the other to a point somewhere off canvas.
The range of colours belongs to the cool end of the artist's palette. Whites and blues share most of the canvas. When you get close up, you realise that there is a lot of blue in the white of the cloth and that the blue of the background is speckled with a multitude of colours. The artist has invested much time and dedication to achieve the intensity she aspired to. The pale greens of the few leaves, although meticulously painted, appear almost incidental. The focal point is on the lemons. Their shiny skins contrast with the flatness of the surroundings as they reflect the sunlight. They look as though they were glowing.
Altogether the choice of colours and the upward movement of the composition give this painting an overwhelming feeling of calm, serenity and spiritual contemplation.
Freda has had a varied career, from stained glass in Glasgow to costume design in London then to sheep farming in rural Scotland where she took up painting in 1991. Her preferred medium is watercolour which gives her the opportunity to indulge her love of transparency with multi-layered glazes. Always trying out new techniques, she has made papier-mache portrait sculptures which she builds up with layers of coloured tissue paper. She also works with screen printing and printmaking. More recently, she has come back to stained glass design.
With thanks to the McGill Duncan Gallery for artist information