I’m working on some ideas at the moment for my exhibition in July 2013 about the Yorkshire Dales and I’m doing a lot of reading. Apart from collections of Dales stories I’m reading an excellent book on Yorkshire geology.
The special character of the Dales is closely associated with the limestone beneath. When you’re walking in the hills the evidence that this was once the floor of a sea is evident in every fossil-studded rock. For an artist, however, it is the more recent legacy of the ice ages which lends the skyline its character.
Four hills in particular: Penyghent, Ingleborough, Penhill and Addleborough owe their distinctive profiles to a combination of smoothing ice flows and hard layers of underlying rock giving the flat-topped, step-sided horizon which typify the Dales and make them such a pleasure to paint.
Of these four, Penhill holds a special place in my heart. It’s in view most of the time when you’re travelling in Wensleydale, where I live. It is a lovely climb, with fantastic views from the top and it’s a hill of stories:
Here are some paintings done over the years of my favourite hill along with an excerpt from a recent poem, written for the forthcoming exhibition.
To enquire about any of the images on this page, please CLICK HERE
Always on the skyline of my life for two score years now,
Seen from a train, a distant castle, a motorway,
From a road rolling in the belly of the dale,
From ship shaped village green,
From beyond the torn walls of a ruined chapter house
The hill, prow lifted to the east,
Sails against the sky.
Rising from the sculpted ordered Georgian bridge
By hand hewn hedges smooth as hounds
And lifting to the racehorse rumbling high moor
The symphonic heft of Wensleydale behind, beneath,
And suddenly the sky is close above us.
Ripon Cathedral from Studley Royal, Limited Edition Print.
Art course coming up ...
There are a few places left on Top Techniques in Watercolour
- a course for everyone interested in painting in watercolour -
at Artison (near Masham, North Yorkshire) Thursday, 5th April.
The course, which will focus on a variety of very effective techniques, costs £65.00 (which includes an excellent lunch).
CLICK HERE to book.
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 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