Windmills and Tulips
By Barbara Balmer

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Year
1996
Media
Watercolour
Subject Matter
Still Life and Flowers
Reg. Number
P739
Size
67 x 58 cm

The coffee pot and the bouquet of tulips and paper windmills fill up the painting. The artist has kept the decoration of the pot to a single colour so that it does not distract the eye from the exuberant display of tulips and windmills. The joyful arrangement of the tulips, red and yellow, and of the red, white and blue windmills is enhanced by the dark background filled with numerous and minute dashes of pink, white, green and yellow paint, applied with a fine brush and a flick of the wrist to add movement and energy to this still life.

Barbara's own domestic environment features often in her work. Using her remarkable drawing skills, she would draw the composition first in great details and then, meticulously, would fill in the shapes she had created with oil paint or watercolours, which she applied with fine sable brushes for precision, always aiming for perfection with the first stroke as she disliked re-painting. Such a working process demands a high level of concentration and artists become completely engrossed in their work and transcend the world around them. Her paintings often have an ethereal feel to them and evoke to more than they reveal. Looking at 'Windmills and Tulips' we wonder what memory she was recreating, a garden event, a Jubilee party or simply a fun day out with her family.

Barbara has been inspired by landscapes as much as by cosy interiors. She sketched them first on site, making many notes and would paint the scene later in her studio. She has often worked with watercolours, a medium that does not tolerate mistakes and that she relishes for that reason, always aiming to achieve perfection with the first stroke, always using fine sable brushes and stretched paper whatever the scale. Whether oil or watercolour, her paint is invariably flat.

Born in England, Barbara Balmer has spent most of her life in Scotland and now lives in Lincolnshire. She trained in Coventry and Edinburgh Colleges of Art. When living in Edinburgh, she got to know Anne Redpath well. They were both inspired by their domestic environment, but each depicted it in her own distinctive way. A prolific artist who painted almost every day of her working life, she has had twenty solo shows and painted eighty commissioned portraits, many of children that she captured in likeness without idealisation. She has won many awards and travelling scholarships - "Italy was a revelation" - and is exhibited widely in public collections throughout the country.

Acknowledgement
With thanks to George Mackie for providing his most helpful information and insights and to The Open Eye Gallery of Edinburgh.

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