Lynne Riding has been a part of the Charleston arts community for many years. With a studio at Redux in the early years, Lynne immersed herself in the life of a South Carolina artist. With her exhibition opening on June 2, 2023 she has returned to being represented by part of the same team that had Fraser & Company Fine Art Gallery in the 90’s. We are excited to welcome her ‘home.’
A childhood spent in Mid Wales instilled a love of landscape and certain awe for the power and fluctuations of the elements. As an inveterate traveler of both land and sea, she draws on these experiences in her work. Many of the physical and mental experiences from her past sailing and competitive windsurfing experiences, together with memories of hiking in the hills of home, find their way into her work.
Riding received an MFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, California, a BA from Manchester College of Art in the United Kingdom and a two year Art Foundation from Hereford School of Art & Design, also in the United Kingdom. On graduating Lynne lived in London where she juggled a position as an art professor with freelance commissions. A decision to move to the USA brought her to Charleston, S.C. where she has been living and working for some time.
Riding has exhibited throughout the country from the West–California, New Mexico, and Arizona, to Florida and North Carolina. Highlights include invitational exhibits such as: “Abstract Art in South Carolina, 1949-2012”, State Museum, Columbia, SC. “30th Parallel- a Convergence of Contemporary Painting”, 2005, JMOMA, Jacksonville, Florida, and “CYMK”, 2005, Trans America Pyramid, San Francisco, California, and “80 x 80”. The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Her work is based in drawing and capturing the essence of a landscape or object. A love of sculpture along with drawing and painting have informed her work from the beginning. Not only does Lynne enjoy studio and plein air painting, she is also an accomplished portrait painter.
In preparing for Lynne’s welcome to the gallery, we chatted with her about her art and what inspires her.
Where did your career first start in art? What was the beginning?
I think it was at school, and I realized how much I love painting. I grew up in the countryside, and I just loved the beautiful landscape in mid Wales, so I was very inspired, I suppose, all my life, and those are my roots, where I used to paint art projects for school. I really enjoyed painting the valley in front of our house and other landscapes, but then I went away to college. I was so lucky, though, I did a two year art foundation, and most places did one year at a time, so I was allowed to go very early to college, 16, as long as I completed my school exams.
So I worked. I’ve always, (like,) doubled up on work all my life. It seems to be a habit that’s just stuck. So then from a two year art foundation, where we did everything: printmaking, photography, typography, textiles fashion, painting and sculpture. (painting, you know, fashion). Then I decided, well, fashion, I could probably earn a living. If I was a sculptor, which I really loved, I kept thinking, how am I going to earn a living?
My father was a teacher. I didn’t want to be a teacher at that point. The funny thing is I ended up being one all my life.
So I’ve always had a nice balance with teaching and my studio art work.
So I took a fashion/ textile degree, in Manchester, England, double majoring. Then I went to London, working in fashion as a designer for a few years. I got out of the fashion business because someone owed me money for a collection, and someone said, well, you love drawing Lynne and your fashion drawings are great, why don’t you work with the magazines? And so I worked for people like Saatchi and J Walter Thompson and all the magazines and the newspapers, such as Vogue. I was H&M’s illustrator in London, designing and illustrating H&Ms big posters for the London Underground. They were in the underground passages and on the sides of the buses and it was such a fun time. You know, this was back in the eighties, and the advertising accounts had a lot of money. It was fun. At the same time, I taught figure drawing and fashion design as an adjunct at the London College of Fashion.
And then I made a big move with my partner, down to Cornwall in the southwest of England, where I taught foundations art at Falmouth School of Art and Design. After a few years, I made a move to America and Charleston. I took my MFA at a later stage out in San Francisco at the San Francisco Art Institute.
On arriving in Charleston, I did a couple of illustrated TV adverts for an agency in New York, and work for Glamor magazine. But working from Charleston, was really hard during that time. They wanted you there on the spot.
During this period I lost my sister, and I was suffering a sense of loss and also a sense of displacement. I went into working with shapes and found objects. I think that I found myself in this abstraction, in trying to find what I wanted to say, trying to find meaning.
Do you go back to representational a lot?
I completed portrait commissions last year, actually, and I still enjoy doing them. I find them so relaxing compared to abstraction, as with abstraction, you’re searching and searching and trying to find something, and it can be a struggle, whereas with the realism in your painting, it’s a technique, and I’m painting what’s in front of me. Very meditative. I use it to reground myself, I think, as I do when painting and drawing in the landscape.
I’m experimenting on an iPad, and in order to keep up with what’s going on, and also trying some portraits on the iPad. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to use it for, mainly experiment with a different medium, really.
What does your process for creating a work look like?
I start by making painted color reference of atmosphere, drawing form or line, and getting some color down. I know I can look at photographs, but I find this informs me more and I try to achieve a sense of place. And it’s interesting working with different mediums. I’m working with gouache, or with ink and wash, and then the final large paintings, in oil. So I have to consider my approach and the implements I use, when using different materials and working to a different scale. When going up in scale, you can put your whole body into the gesture and the piece (I love this) as opposed to a tiny piece. So it’s quite a different matter.
How do you want your audience to perceive your works?
I like them to bring whatever they feel. It’s great if a person does say, I think this is about this meaning, I can feel this coming off it and sometimes they really get it! But as one guy said to me, I don’t understand abstraction, he said, but I could sit down in front of this one and drink a six pack. And I said, well, that’s fine. You know, if he enjoyed it.
How long have you been teaching?
Since I was 23 and mainly as an adjunct, 2 or 3 days a week. I was invited in London to teach part time, and found the first class tough. You know, I thought, I’ll be confident, but then I heard my voice shaking, and then I got used to it and loved it. But, yes, a long time. I enjoy sharing with others and seeing students grow and gain confidence. As an artist’s life can be solitary, I have always enjoyed the juggling of my studio work with teaching. I had a period of seven years here when we first came to America, because I didn’t have a green card. So I had a period where I couldn’t teach and work and so I painted for myself. Then I taught at the College of Charleston for ten years in studio art.
When you’re not painting, how do you relax?
I like walking, and I love films. I just love movies and books. And then recently I’ve been doing a lot more swimming to try and help my back out. I used to windsurf. I was a competitive windsurfer in England, and also competitively with others, in off shore sailing.
When do you kind of decide that a piece is finished?
It just tells you, I just say to it, you’re done. You know, my work involves the building of layers and grounds, then I start to add my marks and gestures. I like working when it just goes, and it goes really quite quickly, but it takes a lot of work to get to that point, as you know, you have to just be so into work and making a lot, and then it just starts to happen. And then it just, just, you know, it’s done.
We look forward to having Lynne in the gallery for an artist reception on June 2, 2023 from 5-8pm. Come meet this talented creator and learn more about her and her artwork.