Based in rural Leicestershire, Maxine Dodd is a contemporary watercolour and mixed media artist. Her themes are action, movement and fleeting moments, inspired by sport and scenes from daily life.
In 2012, Maxine drew the Tour de France for the first time, live from the TV broadcasts and posted the images every day as a blog called, Racing Lines. This is still the main platform for sharing and selling her paintings and drawings.
More about Racing Lines
‘Racing Lines‘ began in 2012 as a ‘reportage’ blog with pictures and a brief article. The pun in the title referring not only to the lines of the drawings but also the text.
I had been working from live action for some time, from local cricket matches, Kettering Symphony Orchestra and movement and communication classes for children with special needs at a school in Leicester.
This spontaneous method of working, really excited me, so when I was looking for a focus for a blog in 2012, telling the story of my favourite bike race as it unfolded everyday was a perfect.
The image of Peter Sagan at the Prologue was one of the first drawings I made in 2012. In fact, here is the link to the first post I made. The intention was to draw while the action was taking place – and not stop – just try to record as it happened. It gives risky but exciting results and I work with several pictures simultaneously – generally on the floor with everything spread out.
The subject guided me to the style, along with the drawing medium of pen and ink that really helped form the images. I have long admired many French artists, from Delacroix and Géricault, Lautrec and Degas, through to Matisse, Nicolas de Staël and Dufy.
They all have great freedom of expression and draw with beautiful lines. Another source of inspiration has been fashion illustration; artists such as René Gruau, Andy Warhol and latterly David Downton who all use ink and lines – along with the ‘white space’ of the paper – to glorious effect, which I love too.
The theme of ‘Racing Lines’ developed to portray speed and movement, often with sport, especially cycling as the subject, (La Vuelta de España and the Tours of Britain and Yorkshire followed), along with rugby, horse racing, cricket. I love the spontaneity of line and working quickly, the challenge to keep up is another race in itself! The medium of pen and ink with watercolour is intense and risky, but quick and responsive, suiting my subject with its twists, turns and bursts of energy.
I was extremely fortunate to have my new work noticed by Sue Brooks of the jGallery in Moulton, Northampton – and Sue offered to show my paintings in what became my first solo show, ‘Twenty Stages‘. It was a very important step and endorsement of the new work that I was making.
At times, I’ve added new materials to the pictures, sometimes chalk and watersoluble pastels,, acrylic paint and gouache, but I always start my pictures with the flowing, uncompromising lines of the pen with washes of watercolour. They are the backbone to every piece.
For me, these subjects have great abstract qualities, showing colour and graceful lines. In cycling, the teams’ colours have a rhythm as the riders move – singly or as a group, the flags and banners waved by the crowds of fans, set in the open landscape is perfect for me. It is these elements, along with the energy of the race itself, that I try to show in my pictures.
Alongside sport, I love to draw subjects that reflect life and times, from the wildlife in our garden, our cat, our local landscape, and scenery from holidays – and since the pandemic, news items from hospitals which has moved and inspired greatly.
There’s always something going on and drawing and painting is a different way of capturing memories… I put the camera phone down and pick up my pen and brushes!
Cycling – Celebrating 10 Years 23 – 28 April 2022
Canon Gallery, Oundle
Royal Institute Painters in Watercolour 209th Mall Galleries, London
Open 32: The People’s Exhibition, Leicester Museum & Art Gallery
Leicester Society of Artists 2021, Newarke Houses Museum, Leicester
Leicester Sketch Club, 2021
Solo exhibitions: ‘Racing Lines, Le Tour’, 2015, Alfred East Gallery, Kettering, jGallery, Moulton Northants’20 Stages‘, jGallery, Moulton, Northants, 2012, awarded Bryan Ward Prize by the Leicester Sketch Club in 2011.
Group exhibitons: from 2003 onwards, Leicester and Kettering Opens, Alfred East Gallery, LSA Annual Exhibitions, ‘Little Selves’, Leicester Museum, New Walk, Leicester, LSC Annual exhibitions various – Open Studios, ‘Art Windows’ regular participant.
Private collections: UK, France, Switzerland, Canada and US
Affiliations: Leicester Society of Artists, Leicester Sketch Club and Harborough Artists Cluster