A musician, dancer, actor or writer can display variety of emotion in their work, and those professions are also known as ‘artists’. But what about the artists who produce paintings? And landscape paintings in particular?
The online world enables me to view infinite numbers of paintings from other people and I would have to say that the vast majority of the landscapes I see there are devoid of emotion. Many are excellent representations of a scene, and the artists are showered with praise along the lines “Gosh - it’s just like a photograph……”.
I am not being critical of those artists, their work is often technically much better than mine, but my personal belief is - if you want a photograph, use a camera!
“Just like a photograph” is probably the worst thing somebody could say to me about one of my paintings.
The quest I give myself - which is obviously not the same as the quest of those ‘realists’, is to share something of the feelings I experienced when gazing on the scene.
Back to the comparison with a musician - a professional violinist has to be able to play every style of music, and the orchestra can and does bring the audience to tears or to waves of pleasure through the music they play. So it should be possible for a painter to convey some similar variety?
A painting does not actually begin with the artist picking up a brush in front of a big blank canvas.
Like an author setting out to write a novel, there is much to be done by way of planning, working on the outline, thinking about how best to convey the points you want to make, choosing the styles and voices.
How best to present this scene?
Our world revolves around the sun, and that means the shadows slide constantly across in front of us. Point and click a camera and an image is captured at that moment in time. Stand in front of an easel for a few hours and the scene changes completely. The Brecon Beacons present a striking profile that runs more or less east-west, and the position of the sun creates completely different vistas at different times of day, and different between summer and winter.
(I shouild digress here - the best photographers do not just turn up, point and click, they put in at least as much scouting, planning and patient waiting to capture the view they seek as an artist does.)
What is presented to you as the finished piece is the result of all that planning.
But then, back to the matter of emotion.
This is ‘Tommy’s Stone’ - a memorial to a little boy who wandered off, got lost and died in the hills. How did he feel as he lay down to sleep having failed to find anyone to help him?
This is Port Logan sunset:
My parents moved to this area to retire, to spend their final days.
Here is my reaction to the coverage of the conference on Climate Change:
Not sure if this one qualifies as a ‘Landscape’, but again something to do with the climate:
Of course I know that many people look for reminders of ‘the rural idyll’ in a landscape painting, that the only emotion they seek is a warm glow, maybe to be reminded of something pleasant about this world we live in, and there’s plenty of good reasons for that!
This is one of my ‘Gower’ series - wonderful beaches:
And that’s it - I hope the point is made - that landscape paintings can be and should be more than simple ‘snapshots’ of a view.