Barb Henderson - 'Let It Be'

Wednesday 2 - Saturday 19 March 2022


"I work on six paintings at the same time. It is important to create enough space between a painting and myself so the painting can gradually begin to have a life of its own. Working on six works at a time means quite a lot of time elapses between my first paint application and when I get to paint again on that particular painting -  I 'let it be' for a time whilst working on the other five works.

As I look at a painting, it’s as if it speaks and asks for something. In my mind something comes to me - ‘what colour is needed, where do I put this paint, what shape, what needs to be overlaid’. Often, it's simplification that is necessary. It’s like the painting and I are working together. Often things that I wouldn’t expect I should do come to my mind. It would be easy to dismiss the suggestion, but I feel I need to take the courage and try it out - give it a go. I work for a while and once again let it be.

After two or three hours I’m usually feeling like I need a break, I need much more space. I have lost all objectivity and run the risk of losing or destroying what progress has been achieved during the session. Now I need to let them be overnight. We need space from each other. I turn the paintings to the wall as if I’m putting them to sleep.

Sometimes I will work again on these paintings over a period of days. At other times several days will go by before I can work on them again. I feel so much better when I see these paintings after a break. I can view them with fresh eyes. Eventually I will know when I must stop. It is such a curious thing to know if a painting is completed. Rarely do I know or decide a painting is complete until I have a long break from it. It may be months, years before I appreciate some of the paintings I do. I need lots of space.

When I’m happy with a painting I’ll show it to other people and ask what they think and see. Everyone has their own story. This is really the time when I let them be. Now they can have a life of their own."