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On Landscapes

July 23, 2014

I’ve never been keen on painting landscapes. I’ve always wanted to have a go, yet my previous efforts have always ended in disappointment… (I guess that’s why I haven’t rushed to relive these unpleasant moments and stuck to simple still-lives that can be created indoors.)

I remember searching for that perfect spot by a river, looking for beautiful reflections. I found it, yet had to pack up within ten minutes because of aggressive mosquitoes! After a while I had another go – that time I took my tools and paints to the beach. It turned out the day was too windy for painting; tiny sand particles kept getting everywhere. Once again I was concurred by Nature… and, although I don’t give up easily, landscapes were left for these special occasions when I have the whole day on my hands (which of course never happens).

By the way, did you know that landscapes weren’t really painted until the 16th and 17th Centuries? I read an interview with Caroline Campbell, the co-curator of the exhibition Making Colour at London’s National Gallery, and she said that landscape is “a genre of painting that didn’t exist before, so there wasn’t such a desire to find green pigments.” (Yet they did have green, didn’t they? The Arnolfini Portrait, painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434, springs to my mind – remember the bright green gown worn by the bride?)

Apparently landscapes are the 19th Century “inventions” – “by the 19th Century, when Rousseau and Cezanne are painting largely as landscapists, they have these new manufactured pigments that are rich in colour and also very stable: emerald green and viridian. Suddenly you have these landscapes which can be green, and stay green.”

Strange, isn’t it? There’s so much greenery around us, yet it took us centuries till we turned our attention to Nature and decided to manufacture greens that could be laid on canvas.

Anyway, lets get back to my feeble efforts…

Well, just out of interest, as a form of a short exercise, I found a nice photograph in one of my lifestyle magazines and tried to quickly record what I saw. No angry mosquitoes, no wind… Thirty minutes and probably hundreds of quick brush strokes.

Somewhere in Cornwall, 2014 (30x20cm; acrylics on cardboard)

Somewhere in Cornwall, 2014 (30x20cm; acrylics on cardboard)

I want to learn to apply paint in patches, to create a tricky quilt of colours, so that the eye would quickly join them into one image and one’s mind would perceive it as a whole. I’m probably trying to explain this too scientifically… I just mean that I’m running away from realism. What matters is impression and now only you will be able to tell me if this small landscape has triggered something in your brain.

I deliberately used big brush and didn’t give myself much time. Impressions are quick, right?

It was just a small photograph, yet I loved the colours – you should have seen how eagerly I was searching for the right tube with the brightest blues and greens! This certainly was a very pleasant experiment that might lead to one more attempt to become a plein air enthusiast.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Claire permalink
    July 23, 2014 11:36 am

    Fabulous idea (I’m going to nick that myself!) and lovely painting

    • July 23, 2014 1:38 pm

      Thank you, Claire. If you’re going to nick it, then it certainly was a good idea! Don’t forget to post the outcome on your blog. K.

      P.S. I’m looking at your photos from Italy – magic! Heaps of stuff that can inspire to change one’s lifestyle into a more colourful one.

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