I’ve been collecting stories from the Yorkshire Dales for a while now in prepartion for an exhibition this summer. When I started asking for it didn’t take long to realise that some places attract legends like a hedgehog attracts fleas. Pendragon Castle is a case in point.
Pendragon Castle lies on the north western edge of the Dales in the shadow of Wild Boar Fell and the crumbling ruin sits on a mound in which a dragon lives. The castle’s name is well known from the legends of King Arthur. Uther Pendragon was Arthur’s father and was reputedly born here. That’s the first legend. Uther lost the castle when an enemy poisoned the castle well during a siege killing a hundred soldiers.
Wild Boar Fell
The castle was also home to Sir Hugh de Morville, one of Thomas Becket’s murderers. Sir Hugh was haunted by the similarity between the silhouette of Wild Boar Fell and the shape of Becket’s face in death. From the right angle the hill looks like the profile of a fallen man.
As if all this wasn’t sufficient for one ruin there is also a buried treasure which is guarded by a spectral black hen. As fast as a treasure hunter digs a hole the hen fills it back in.
So, for my forthcoming exhibition, I’ve been wrestling with how to portray this mysterious place. In the first painting I played with idea of an aura, using a halo effect to enclose the castle and echo the shape of the tree. In the second I drew my inspiration from the colours of the hen: black feathers, red wattle. And in the third I tried to bring an other-wordly, unreal feeling to the castle’s silhouette.
For Wild Boar Fell I wanted to capture to remote wildness of this high outpost of the Pennines and also something of the sadness that here was where the last wild boar in England was killed.
As an ensemble I hope they reflect the various legends of this little-visited corner of the Dales.
All the paintings will be on show at the eventual exhibition (see the poster - right).
| |Tulips in Watercolour
For those interested in watercolour floral painting there are still a few places left on the course I’m teaching at Constable Burton. Run by Artison studios of Masham, the course includes a tour of the beautiful gardens and lovely Palladian house of Constable Burton as well as lunch. CLICK HERE
for further details and to book a place.
For exhibition updates, pictures and other news please visit (and "Like") my Facebook page. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter there. CLICK HERE
I'm involved in a number of exhibitions this year. I've listed them below. Hope to see you at one of them.
To keep up to date why not "Like" me on Facebook - CLICK HERE
- or "Follow" me on Twitter - CLICK HERE
Screen Prints of Cambridge Cambridge Contemporary Art
Eight new screen prints of Cambridge, including The Bridge of Sighs (above), The Round Church and Queen’s College.
Paintings and Stories of the Yorkshire Dales
Wensley Church, Wensley, N Yorks.
27 July – 11 August 2013
A major exhibition of new paintings based on stories from the Yorkshire Dales collected over the last two years. In addition to artwork the exhibition sees the launch of a book for children: The Penhill Giant, which is an illustrated retelling of events which took place on the hill overlooking the exhibition location. The exhibition will also see the launch of a book illustrated with new paintings created for the exhibition work which will also include a collection of Dales stories, many of which will be appearing in print for the first time.
By kind permission of the Churches Conservation Trust
Also coming up this year:Art in the Pen
Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, N Yorks.
17 – 18 August 2013
For one weekend Skipton Auction Mart becomes a vast art gallery with artists from across the North of England displaying work where cattle and sheep are usually sold. Always a great event with a wonderful atmosphere. Masham Arts Festival Exhibition
St Mary’s Church, Masham, N. Yorks.
25 October – 2 November 2013
The sixth Masham Arts Festival will include, as always, an eclectic mix of events, art and craft workshops and concerts, but, at its heart, is this exhibition. Featuring thirty carefully selected artists this is always one of the best exhibtions on the British festival scene. Simplicity Of ColourMasham Gallery
, Masham, N Yorks.
21 September - 3rd November
A stunning exploration into the power and beauty of using a single colour by myself and some wonderful printmakers: Anja Percival, Hester Cox, Margaret Morris and Janis Goodman. Aged to PerfectionMasham Gallery
, Masham, N Yorks.
16th November - 31st December - A number of artists explore finding beauty in the worn, aged and imperfect. Includes work from myself and Josie Beszant, Suzanne McIvor and Victoria Sayers amongst others.
For further details, or to enquire about purchasing my work CLICK HERE
My lovely home town of Masham in Wensleydale is hosting a terrific event on 28th October. Masham's Edwardian Town Hall is going to be full of contemporary craft makers showing work, demonstrating techniques and encouraging visitors to try their hand at a range of craft skills.
Pole lathe turning demonstrated by Chris Helliwell.
Crafted by Hand is sponsored by The Masham Gallery
- a leading art and craft gallery - and Artison
- an innovative provider of great art and craft workshops. The event runs from 10 till 4 on 28th October. Entrance costs a paltry £1.50, there is ample free parking and excellent tea,coffee and cakes are available all day.
For complete details go to Creative Masham's website - CLICK HERE
I first came to Avebury
in 1965 on a school trip. Although I can’t say my time at Slough Grammar School
comprised the happiest days of my life, my alma mater was very good at showing us places that mattered. I remember the feeling of the place was magical, like sunshine after rain, and I felt, in a way that I have come to feel in other special places, that I belonged there.
Avebury is a vast stone cirlce containing two small stone circles enclosed by a huge circular bank and ditch. Across the neighbouring fields the remains of stone avenues lead toward the centre. On the neighbouring hills evidence exists of other stone circles. This is often interpreted as a ritual landscape designed for a specific function: to be the stage for a coming-of-age ceremony for our ancestors. (To read more about this I recommend The Avebury Circle
by Michael Dames. To order CLICK HERE
The most extraordinary thing about Avebury is that in the middle of all this is a village – a village with a guilty past. Most of the stones survived well into the seventeenth century until they were brought to academic attention by historian John Aubrey
. William Stukeley
made the first accurate survey of the stones in the mid-eighteenth century but had to observe his study being destroyed before his eyes as local villagers broke up most of the stones for building material. It seems unbelievable that such a great human achievement which had stood, untouched for 4,500 years was virtually obliterated in about twenty years.
Landscape of the Megaliths Paul Nash
Avebury Restored John Piper
Two Forms Barbara Hepworth
I have really, really wanted to make a great painting of Avebury for many years and I have failed repeatedly. However recently I’ve got closer to my goal by taking a deliberate step away from reality by working in print. Screen printing forces you to take a simpler approach and the result has been that my stones are becoming more abstracted until I found I had pared everything back to what I loved about them – their incredibly beautiful shapes. Here are a few of the resulting images. Most of these were created for The Bluestone Gallery in Devizes, Wiltshire, which is very close to Avebury. To visit their very nice website CLICK HERE.
4 layer screen print
4 layer screen print
4 layer screen print
4 layer screen print
The Gallery in Masham, North Yorkshire which is the main outlet for my work, has a lovely new website. To pay a visit CLICK HERE.
There are still some places on the course I'm teaching at Artison about A Contemporary Approach to Watercolour. Friday 18th May 10 am - 4 pm
Watercolour frequently suffers from an undeserved reputation as a pale, washed out medium. Contemporary watercolour artists, however, are exploring vibrant new ways of creating results rich in colour and texture and this course looks at some easy ways to take these ideas into your work.
To book a place CLICK HERE
To visit my Facebook page CLICK HERE
. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter from this page, full of information about art history, exhibitions, art courses and book reviews.
My interest in the details goes back a long way. I can remember when I was very small losing myself in the patterns on my Aunt Belle’s china, looking at the cast iron coal hole covers on the pavement, following the swirls in the paisley carpet designs.
Along with the smell of damp and the dust motes floating in the air the things I remember best from the long hours in church were the carvings on the medieval screen, the worn encaustic tiles on the chancel floor and the graffiti bitten deep into the choir stalls by previous generations of the bored. Of the interminable sermons not a word ever stayed with me.
I spend a lot of time drawing and painting buildings. I usually start by getting to know the silhouette but it’s the details that draw me in.
Looking back through my photo files I’m amazed by how many times I seem to click the shutter on something small, but amazing. Here is just a small selection.
The next art course I'm teaching at Artison is:A Contemporary Approach to Watercolour
Friday, 18th May 2012 Price: £65.00
Watercolour frequently suffers from an undeserved reputation as a pale, washed out medium. Contemporary watercolour artists, however, are exploring vibrant new ways of creating results rich in colour and texture and this course looks at some easy ways to take these ideas into your work. By the end of the course will be able to:
- Mix and use watercolour in a variety of ways
- Incorporate different media for different effects
- Plan paintings which move away from traditional styles
- Develop an awareness of directions in contemporary watercolour
To book CLICK HERE
Fountains Abbey, Late Evening
Framed Size: 28" x 21"
Currently on sale at
The Gallery, Masham
To enquire about this painting CLICK HERE
To visit the NEW Gallery website CLICK HERE
I began painting buildings a very long time ago. I’m fascinated by how everything fits together, how the shapes and surfaces reflect the light and create the shadows and how the silhouette works against the sky.
Durham Cathedral from Western Hill, Watercolour
I fell in love with Durham Cathedral
the minute I saw it from the train that was taking me to my interview for Neville’s Cross College in early 1973. Passing over Durham viaduct the city was suddenly revealed – houses, churches and trees crowned by a castle and an iconic cathedral. John Ruskin
, the great Victorian critic, called the view from Durham Station the eighth wonder of the world – and this from a chap whose house overlooked one of the best views in the Lake District.
Durham Cathedral from South Street, Mixed Media
Some of the very first paintings I ever made were of this building for the simple reason that they were painted for the Cathedral bookshop. I lived in several places in Durham - Neville’s Cross, Potter’s Bank, Crossgate, Gilesgate – and from each point found that the cathedral reveals a different character.
Durham is unusual for being a complete Norman cathedral – a tour de force of dogtooth arches, barrel vaulting and round-headed windows – where most British cathedrals are a collection of building styles depending on whatever look was fashionable when some money was available.
Durham was built to house the shrine of St. Cuthbert
, whose much-travelled coffin rooted itself to the ground here. The monks who had been carrying Lindisfarne’s premiere saint around for 120 years (on and off) were probably glad to finally put the coffin in the ground and he still lies at the heart of the building.
I get a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye whenever I go back and I must have painted the great church dozens of times but I still find things about it that make me pick up my brush again.
In Notes from a Small Island
Bill Bryson says: “If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful.” I couldn’t put it better. The paintings shown are all available from The Gallery, Masham. CLICK HERE for details
Artison are currently taking bookings for my painting course:
A Contemporary Approach to Watercolour
on Friday 18th May. For details and to book CLICK HERE
Helvellyn, Ian Scott Massie
"Artists are people who say I can’t fix my country or my state or my city, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight and a half by eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be." Kurt Vonnegut Kurt Vonnegut
understood the artistic mind very well. In his novel Bluebeard
about the fictional abstract expressionist
Rabo Karabekian he lifts the lid on the life of an artist and the tension that exists between control and liberation in every media.
The Old Man of Coniston, Ian Scott Massie
In watercolour great results are frequently born out of happy accidents, and so it is one of the most divisive media. At one end of the scale are the purists who dislike compound colours such as Paynes Grey
(a neutral tint originally made up of red, blue and yellow), and abhor the use of white or black. At the other end (a district in which I am happy to reside) are the experimenters for whom anything is fair game – inks, gouache, acrylics, wax and so on.
Both approaches can produce great results, because both camps include people with great artistic ability and vision. Both also represent an ever-present divide between those who strive for complete control and those who wish to be unconfined.
Dallowgill, Ian Scott Massie
I am setting out to reconcile both groups through a course I’m teaching at Artison next week called Liberated Watercolour and I’m going to try a few ideas in which there is an element of control which the artists can then deliberately undermine. The thinking behind this is that many artists want to break from their self-imposed degree of control while others find that an unstructured approach comes all to easily and often want to find ways to repeat the happy accidents which befall them. I'll be letting them explore what happens when you just let the paint do the work, but also ways to intervene and channel the developing picture.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the end result allowed someone to echo Kurt Vonnegut’s wonderful words and, by losing control, find the right picture?
To book a place on Liberated Watercolour CLICK HERE
To join my 4 week course in Working With Watercolour CLICK HERE
Racehorses are a subject I return to again and again. I find the combination of beauty and power just wonderful and always have since first going to the races at Kempton Park in my late teens. The first image I put into print was a picture called Winning in about 2005. It was by no means my first horse picture but I felt I had finally captured the feeling I was after.
The only other horse image I have put into print is Racing Green which now coming to the end of its edition - just a few left. Both pictures include the rails which, along with other formal elements of the course – starting gates, stands and furlong markers – act as a foil to the primal power of the horses.
Following a commission for a new racehorse painting, I’ve recently begun looking for new ideas for racing pictures. Here’s recent study.
If you're interested in seeing, or commissioning any racing pictures contact The Gallery, Masham by CLICKING HERE.
If you’re very quick you can still hear my interview on BBC Radio Yorks
from last week. Its on iplayer till Sunday. CLICK HERE
Art courses I'm teaching at Artison
in the near future:
| |Exploring Acrylic Inks
Friday, 24th FebruaryCLICK HERE
to book a place.
| |Liberated Watercolour
Friday, 16th MarchCLICK HERE
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for my Home page.
Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
I've been going through a few acrylic ink paintings recently because I'm teaching a one-day course on this medium at the studios of Artison, just outside Masham, in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.
The course is on February 24th and what I hope to do is show a whole range of techniques which exploit the potential of this terrific medium.
Winter, Commondale, North Yorkshire
The Treasurer's House, York
Acrylic inks are a perfect crossover medium. They create inpervious surfaces in rich colour, like acylic paint, but can diluted and applied like watercolour. They can create intricate textures and will happily combine with other watersoluble media, like gouache.
Here are a few of the pictures I've created with acrylic inks over the last few years.
The West Door, York Minster
As you can see the colours are amazing and the textures varying from the subtle to the visually dissonnant.
If you'd like to book a place on the course click HERE
If you'd like to see more of my work featuring acrylic ink go to The Gallery, Masham, North Yorkshire, or visit their website by clicking HERE
And if you can't make the course but would like to try acrylic inks my recommendation would be for the wonderful range made by Rorher & Klinger of Leipzig. You can visit their site by clicking HERE