Most artists paint landscapes because they are ‘ inspired’ by the beauty they are witness to.
Other artists find religious meanings in views of Nature and try to communicate this significance through their pictures.
Rather than re-creating a landscape, I aim to express its essence, and my emotional response to that essence.
My paintings are not snapshots or souvenirs of particular places, what I hope is that they present a recognisible image, and an illusion of space, combining distance with atmospheric softness, hopefully evoking a metaphysical stillness, and even more importantly, that they evoke a mood of meditation and quiet introspection.
I want the works, rather than being ‘ site specific’ as such, to be work that has a universality about it.
Many have said that my landscape inspired works are more commentaries on the beauty of nature emptied of intrusion, and that as real as they may seem, the landscapes are personal spaces that have a resonance of spirit.
Especially fascinating to me at the present are the horizon and shore, and where land, sea, and sky come together. In a sense, these are expectant and hopeful places.
The horizon is a symbol of hope, and undiscovered possibilities, a symbol I find most appealing in these times of world uncertainty.
"... the artist should paint not only what he sees before him, but what he sees within him." - Caspar David Friedrich
Obviously, no single work can hope to distil the complex spirit of a landscape, so, many times in order to capture this richness, I work in series, on a large number of paintings concurrently.
This allows me to transport strong elements and effective techniques from one piece to the next, with each rendering sharing some information with the other works in the series.
I feel that this overlap of elements enhances each individual expression and intensifies the cohesion within the body of work.
Ultimately, each piece depicts some element or ‘ feeling’ of the landscape's influence, until the larger body of work coalesce to articulate what I hope to be its “ truth”…or more accurately “ my” truth.
As I get older I feel an increase in elements of abstraction, entering my works. Where there was once a discernable physical element of landscape, there is now a smudge, or a scrape or some other gesture that replaces it, allowing the viewer more freedom to interpret the piece in their own way.
This is a magical discovery for me, allowing myself a looseness of technique that enhances not only the physical act of painting, but also enriches the experience and engagement of the viewer.
I would like for people to find their own space in my work, a place of clarity and contentment.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.” T.S. Elliot
Nocturne Suite / Nuages
This series of studies are inspired by the music of Claude Debussy’s "Nuages" in his Nocturne Suite, music that has fed my soul and spirit, during the act of creation.
I hope that the “Nocturne Suite” of paintings are like windows to a more peaceful reflective world, meditations on peace and tranquillity, they are intended as references, colour notes, to be 'worked up' into larger scale pieces, in the future.
Working on the 30 x 30cm. scale has been a very enjoyable process, and I think the size gives the pieces an intimacy of spirit and time.
Being studies, there is a sense of immediacy within the works, a looseness of technique, which is a result of trying to capture the 'moment' in time.
Below are some quotations by, and, about Claude Debussy, which I have also found inspiring
Claude Debussy: On Music and Art
'Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory. People come to music to seek oblivion: is that not also a form of deception?...'
"Music is the expression of the movement of the waters, the play of curves described by changing breezes. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful example of development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little- the book of Nature."
"I have made mysterious Nature my religion... to feel the supreme and moving beauty of the spectacle to which Nature invites her ephemeral guests, that is what I call prayer."
"Some people wish above all to conform to the rules, I wish only to render what I can hear... / There is no theory. You have only to listen… Pleasure is the law."
"Extreme complication is contrary to art.... Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."
"… I have an endless store of memories, and to my mind, they are worth more than the reality, whose beauty often deadens thought."
"The term impressionism was first used by Louis Leroy in the French paper Charivari in application to the now famous painter Monet in a derogatory way over the vague nature of his work, “Impressions: Sunrise”.
"Debussy existed before Debussy. It is an architecture which moves upside down in water, clouds which form and disperse, branches which slumber, rain on the leaves, plums which in falling kill themselves and bleed gold--everything that only murmured or stammered before a human voice came to give it expression. A thousand vague marvels in nature have at last found their interpreter." - Jean Cocteau.
"The aim of impressionists was to "suggest rather than to depict; to mirror not the object but the emotional reaction to the object; to interpret a fugitive impression rather than to seize upon and fix the permanent reality."
"It is an art of abstraction, in which mystery and vagueness are to be desired, and not avoided."
"There are no absolutes; impressionism is the antithesis of realism. Impressionism differs greatly from the expressionism."
"Formal concern, intellectuality and concise expression have now been augmented by sentiment, imagination and effect."
"An impressionist is thus one who tries to suggest and evoke meaning rather than flatly describe. In music this is characterized by tonality, unresolved dissonance, and ambiguities."
"It's a system of sensation, in which reality stands and is ultimately conceived in personal perception."
"Nothing is more precious than that gray song, where indecision is joined to precision". -Verlaine
The music of 'Nuages' (Clouds) uses mysteriously shifting wind and string harmonies to suggest an overcast sky at dusk, with the English horn repeatedly intoning a forlorn plea for companionship, consistent with the muted shades of gray that would visually characterize such a setting.