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Looking at Water exhibition

Imaginative oil painting of riverNick Schlee (1952, English) has an exhibition of oil paintings and drawings entitled “Looking at Water” at River & Rowing Museum in Henley on Thames until 31 July.

Nick Schlee has painted throughout his life including at Univ. While working in business he took evening classes at the Central School, Morely College with Laurence Toynbee, Putney Art School and The Slade. In 1989, he began painting full-time. Since the 1990s, Schlee has had regular one man exhibitions in London and around the country including Edinburgh and Oxford. His works are now held in public collections across England including Liverpool University, The City of London Guildhall Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery, Reading Museum & Art Gallery, Swindon Art Gallery, Hampshire County Council and Gallery Oldham. Schlee continues to paint today living and working in Upper Basildon, Berkshire where he is inspired by the dramatic local landscape. He works quickly in coloured oil pastels and charcoal to capture all the elements in the landscape that excite him. Many of these drawings are worked up to large paintings in oils back in the studio.

Nick commented: “Usually painters paint water just as the camera captures it recording how it looks in a single fraction of a second. The image is frozen. The person looking at the pictures probably recognises the image as one of a sequence they have themselves have seen, whether a slow swirl reflected on a swimming pool bottom, or the spitting spray on the crest of a wave. Their memory fills in the blanks either side of that frozen moment.

“When I tried to single out one particular moment to record in paint I found my eye darted about the water’s surface without stopping, distracted from one flash of the sun to another even more inviting. My eyes were led a merry dance across a myriad of attractions, and I found it increasingly difficult to try and assimilate exactly what I was looking at.

“My solution was to assemble a conglomeration of pastel strokes that suggested the rapid moves my eyes had to make when surveying various portions of the turmoil of movement before them. In this way I hope to get the viewer to share the excitement of looking at water that I have.”

The free exhibition runs until 31 July at River & Rowing Museum in Henley on Thames. Find more of Nick Schlee’s beautiful work on his website.

Published: 18 June 2024

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