Lin Kerr is one of Ardington’s original teaching faculty and has changed gear in the recent past, from calligraphy to oil painting. Charmingly, she starts our interview for this blog by cuddling her gorgeous dog, Isla. They haven’t seen each other for a week and the reunion is a cloud of effervescent fluffy white and brown hair!
Lin has a fine art degree and was an oil painter long before she took up calligraphy with a passion. Lin trained as an art teacher as well and taught adults in her home country of South Africa. When she first arrived in the UK, she gained a diploma in traditional gilding techniques. She taught art and contemporary lettering to calligraphers all over the UK travelling as far as Newcastle, Wales, and Hastings. After many years of exploring words in art, and completing a mathematical series, (one of which is in the Fitzwilliam Museum), she wanted to get back to figurative art and oil painting. The gilding techniques have not escaped though. Lin has now begun using gold leaf in some of her oil paintings, and is still exploring ways of incorporating gold.
Learning from the Old Masters
Lin is now experimenting with painting styles and is on a mission to explore a wide range of approaches to oils. She is now studying a Diploma course in the painting techniques of the old masters, which takes up around three days of on-site study each month for a period of one year. During each session, Lin will study traditional masters, such as the Impressionists and then paint in a similar style for that month’s assignments. Lin says “it’s such a great way to get an insight to these artists' styles, by reconstructing their techniques with modern oil painting materials to achieve exciting results in colour and composition. We are currently studying Art Nouveau and Expressionism (Klimt and Schiele) and the gilding is coming in handy!"
In Love with the English Countryside
Lin fell in love with the English countryside at an early stage and is now exploring just how far you can push oil paints and how far you can push landscapes. There are some lovely examples of Lin’s more experimental landscapes illustrated in this feature. Take the painting of the famous White Horse at Uffington (close to Ardington School), as captured from the ground – this really is pushing the landscape to the borders of abstraction. Some of Lin’s favourite pieces follow the direction of this piece, such as Armadillo copse. Lin explains “ there are lots of lovely copses around Oxfordshire. It’s so lovely to find them – they are almost like creatures emerging from the landscape”. You can definitely see Lin’s calligraphic influences too, in the mark making in the foreground of some of her landscapes.
Final words from Lin
“I have always taught – first at high school, then adults. I love to teach beginners and watch them develop. They get really excited about what they can do and it’s really rewarding to be a part of that”.