Thoughts on Painting

I've always thought that I prefer the title of 'Painter' rather than 'Artist'.  Perhaps this is because any artistry that is involved exists purely in the eye of the beholder!

On the same theme, I was once asked many years ago why I painted.  I remember being a little 'thrown' by this, especially as the person asking the question was examining a painting of mine rather too closely at the time!  I can't remember my exact reply, but I think it was along these lines...'Painting is one of the few things that makes any sense to me.'  I feel this still holds true for me today.

The desire to attempt to reveal and celebrate the world in paint, in terms of light and shade, seems a wholly sensible and worthwhile lifetime's pursuit....even though this endeavour may often end in disappointment, to the extent that some panels have occasionally ended up in my studio woodburner!

I have always thought that the word 'painting' is equivalent to the word 'feeling', with each brushstroke expressing more than a simple phrase or sentence, at least when in the hands of an expressive and accomplished painter.  Some of the wonderful passages of paint in an expansive landscape by Sir John Arnesby Brown come to mind. 

The mark or stroke of a brush tells a story and possesses an energy.  A brushstroke could become the effortless expression of the last glint of a setting sun on a cold winter's day, or the suggestion of a distant figure leaning into the breeze on a wide stretch of Norfolk beach. 

I still feel there's a certain magic or alchemy involved in painting, especially as seen in the works of great painters such as Arnesby Brown and other wonderful plein air painters.  These painters often have the ability to 'heighten' the subject - they are guided by careful observation and knowledge of the fleeting effect of light and shadow on the landscape. They are never confined by just the topographical details. 

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Above: Work in progress

It is the realisation of all of these elements when observing the work of some of our wonderful British landscape painters, both past and present, that continues to inspire me.