Practitioner Focus: Diane Bruford

Tell Us About Your Work

I currently have two strands of work – paintings and drawings.

My paintings explore the sheer joy of using inherently beautiful materials - paint and gold leaf. I apply the paint loosely with a large soft brush and it finds its own place on the canvas with little help from me. The gold leaf is supplied as very fine sheets of 24 carat gold, backed with a thin sheet of transfer paper. Gold leaf is incredibly fragile, and is affected by static electricity, the slightest breeze, my breath, or the shaking of my hand. It is hard to control how it behaves and adheres to the surface of my paintings, and it forms an irregular coverage which I build up in layers, interspersed with further layers of paint. The less uniform the coverage, the more visually interesting the paintings are to me.

My drawings, by contrast, are monochrome and much more tightly controlled than my paintings. I am deeply upset by plastic waste and how it breaks into ever smaller fragments in the environment, but never completely degrades. It breaks my heart as I observe and draw small pieces of broken plastic which I have found.

2018-06-30 15.27.43.jpg

What creative project are you working on?

I am passionate about sharing my skills and creativity with young people. I run art/craft workshops for my daughter’s Guides unit and have been teaching drawing to home educated children.

I spend a few days each month on Sketchbook Circle. I have been part of the Circle since it started and enjoy the social aspect of having partners to work with, and the challenge of responding to somebody else’s work.

In the sketchbook I am sharing with Gill Hall, we are exploring a garden and botanical theme in mixed media. In the sketchbook I am sharing with Marie Wilson, we are exploring a grittier, urban theme, which began with soiled-looking observational drawings of the interiors of insalubrious community buildings and church halls around East London.



What do you search for in creative inspiration?

I respond to emotions of happiness and sadness. I have a comfortable life and I appreciate how lucky I am, and that privilege allows me to be playful with materials and ideas. This happiness is expressed in my paintings. When I’m painting I’m so relaxed and unaware of time passing. I dislike unkindness and unfairness, especially social injustice. My drawings often lean towards recording people, places and objects tinged with sadness.



What tools or materials could you not live without?

I carry a sketchbook and black pen. My paintings rely on gold leaf, and other metallic leaf to a lesser extent, and acrylic paint. I’m also enjoying my new acrylic inks and Posca pens.



What’s the best piece of creative advice you have been given?

A lovely art foundation lecturer called Max said to me, ‘There are lots of things I could teach you, Diane, but your learning will be stronger if you work it out for yourself’. I was livid at the time, as he had avoided answering a question. On reflection, I think he was right to leave me to it. Unexpected outcomes occur from grappling with new ideas and techniques, and the ‘right’ answer reveals itself as part of my creative process. I don’t know how a piece of work will be resolved until the moment it has a sense of completeness. I have faith in my ability to solve my own creative problems, and I think of him when I feel stuck. I remind myself that I just need to work through it, and then I will have grown as an artist.

2018-06-30 16.30.51.jpg
sketchbook double page.jpg