Mountains, or hills, have always been important to me, and living within two miles of the Brecon Beacons National Park, in south Wales, UK, my quest is to attempt to capture some of the sense of awe, or wonder, in my paintings that I feel when I am up there.
What is it about mountains that pulls us toward them?
Closeness to the sky?
The sense of scale - nature at its most magnificent?
Or just the simple pleasure of having something nice to look at?
The Brecon Beacons - A flat sea bed solidified, pushed and twisted by unimaginable tectonic forces then sculpted by kilometre-thick ice sheets and shaped by unstoppable floodwaters. Today a National Park covering over 500 square miles set aside for the enjoyment of us all.
The River Usk winds it way through that glacial valley overlooked by the peaks of The Beacons - Penyfan, Corn Du and Cribyn.
This is a land of myths and legends, but it is known that these hills provided the last bastion of celtic people's resistance to the roman invaders. (AD 44) Led by Caradoc (whose name is preserved to this day in an ancient hill fort above the town of Brecon), those people kept up their tradition of using the hilltops for warning fires ('Beacons') while they fought the strongest army the world has ever known. They resisted for an astonishing nine years using what we would now call 'guerilla', hit and run tactics. Eventually captured after being betrayed by someone he thought was a friend, Caradoc was hauled to Rome expecting cermonial execution, but his appeal - "Why condemn me for doing what any right-thinking man should do, and defend his homeland?" caused the Emperor Claudius to drop his sentence to lifetime exile in Rome.
My Paintings - I work in oils, finding the fluidity better for my 'quest'.
Realism? - I am sure a landscape painting should convey a sense of the place, and so must at least be recognisable, BUT - we live in the time when there are more cameras in more hands than ever before and when anyone can take a quick snap, so my paintings need to be more than that.
An outdoor artist is on the spot for hours, in which time the scene will change - at least from the progress of the sun across the sky, and, in this part of the world, from changes in the weather, the light and the clouds, so every brushstroke is a conscious decision on how I want to present the scene.
I wasn't there, but have read of the following exchange:
"Mr Turner! I have never seen a sunset like that."
"No, Madam, but don't you wish you had?"