• Beverley Johnson

How walking can inspire fresh ideas for painting

Updated: Jan 7

Whenever I need to freshen up my ideas, I go for a walk. Being out in fresh air clears my mind and puts me in a good mood because I am looking for inspiration. This could be an unusual colour combination made by the passage of river over stone or a mini composition discovered in the way paint is peeling off an ancient wall. I record my findings on camera or iPhone and rush back to the studio with renewed enthusiasm.

My painting, Panquin, resulted from just such a walk. It was a beautiful, sunny winter morning when I headed into my home town, Tervuren, in Belgium. I quickly found what I was looking for in an old historic building, called the Panquin.


The building is in the shape of a horse shoe, and was originally a military barracks. It lay empty for a number of years until a group of local artists was invited to use the rooms as studios. Uniforms were replaced by paint-splattered aprons, guns by paint brushes. Twice a year, visitors enjoyed studio tours and admired sculptures on plinths and paintings on walls.


Now the artists have had to leave. The building is going to be renovated and made into a luxury hotel and commercial centre.

On my walk, I took a number of photographs of the walls, where peeling paint and crumbling plaster had left interesting marks. I wanted to capture the character of the ancient building before it was buried under new layers of plaster, paint and concrete.

The painting below is based on a little patch of the building's wall. The piece was created by placing collage and fresh paint directly on top of a painting of a different building. I have renovated my own painting, hiding what is underneath, just as the military barracks will be hidden beneath its new façade. However, traces of the original work remain, making the finished painting richer and deeper. Likewise, visitors to the renovated Panquin will sense the atmosphere and varied history of the building embedded in its walls.

Panquin, mixed media on canvas, 70 x 100 cm

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