I love my job on days like these, when I have to pull together art for a project or put together a new collection for one of our sales. It’s so satisfying and such a fascinating process. I started collecting paintings as soon as I earned a wage and had some money to spare and I’ve always bought what I’ve loved, which has given me pleasure and it fascinates me how my tastes change as I learn more. It’s thrilling when you discover a ‘new’ artist you haven’t heard of before and then start to learn more about them and begin to understand their style. I always admire their commitment to paint and canvas and the way in which they let you have an insight into their soul.
When taking a visit to see John and his art collection, I start to feel like a child in a sweet shop, the anticipation and excitement builds. Racks of art from various twentieth century artists line the walls. John is always so generous and let’s me pull out various paintings as I go until I find the pieces that really grab me. It’s on an impulse that I choose new work and start to pull a collection together. This time though it was the work of Doreen Heaton that hit the right note for me .
Doreen Heaton was born in 1930 and later studied art at Corsham Academy in Bath. Whilst there, she met with the artist Peter Potworowski who had become Professor of Painting. Peter had escaped Poland after the German invasion in 1943, having to leave all his art behind and went to England in 1952 to take up his new post. Doreen soon became his charismatic artist’s assistant – being 40 years her senior didn’t seem to bother her at all and they soon fell in love. In 1954 they left and travelled extensively around both Spain and Italy and lived a Bohemian lifestyle, taking in all the sights and sounds of the day and this reflected in both of their works.
In 1958 Peter was invited back to Poland to take a professorship teaching Art in Poznan and Galansk. Here they stayed and married shortly before Peter’s death. In 1963 the Drain Gallery in London offered Doreen a one woman show which was a great success. This really did establish her career in her own right and she continued to paint and live in Poland until the 1980s, eventually returning to East Anglia. She was such such a prolific painter, working in both oils and watercolour. The watercolours I particularly love and the way she captures the mood of the landscape. I find her colours dark and slightly foreboding in tone, then amongst this there appears a glint of viridian or vermilion and the mood changes. Her seascapes of oil on board are charmingly naive in style. The movement she captures with her brush strokes create such an evocative emotions of the the wind you can also taste the salty air. So it’s no wonder that on discovering Doreen Heaton’s work, I had to put together a collection to exhibit at our May sale.