Why landscape painting?
En plein air painiting in Zennor, Cornwall
I’ve always appreciated the benefits of being outdoors and enjoyed spending time in the countryside, however it wasn’t until I began painting the landscape that I really started to ‘see’ the landscape. Painting these views has totally changed how I view the land around me. I feel like I see so much more now and have a whole new appreciation for the endless beauty there is to find. The process of painting forced me to really look at all the details I’d have otherwise missed; the colours of shadows, how the light changes the colour of the land and sea, the patterns of fields and hedgerows. That has been my favourite part of my journey as a landscape painter so far – how the practice of painting this subject has completely changed how I see the world. I find myself feeling continuously uplifted by the joy and beauty of the landscape, it's become a subconscious act to notice and study the details of my surroundings, even on the gloomy days I feel I can appreciate all the greys in the clouds. There is so much to see when we spend the time to look.
I started painting the landscape in 2019 after a loss of a horse. Horses had been my primary subject matter up until that point, but I felt I needed a change and a distraction from the emotional turmoil life with horses can bring! Before this, I distinctly remember saying to my friends and family that I definitely did not want to be a landscape painter – I thought it was boring!! I can’t believe I ever felt that way, it didn't occur to me how much could be achieved through landscape painting. As well as the joy of creating a beautiful image, I hadn't considered what an incredible tool our landscape is in translating our experiences, thoughts and feelings, or how appreciating the beauty of the everchanging landscape could change my daily outlook. The landscape is something that the majority of people can relate to, I love painting a subject that allows me to connect to the world around me and the people living in it. Be that connection through an en plein air painting of a meaningful place to the viewer, or them feeling a familiarity towards light or atmosphere of the piece.
My obsession with the sea and en plein air painting began during my first escape after the lockdowns of 2020 on a trip to Zennor near St Ives where we stayed on a rural farm just a couple of fields walk away to the coast and the pub – the perfect holiday! Here was my first taste of en plein air painting and I was immediately hooked! Painting in the fresh sea air with the sound of crashing waves in the background was a truly meditative experience, especially appreciated after the year we'd all experienced. By the sea the possibilities feel endless with the ever-changing light and huge expanse of space. The light in Cornwall is particularly spectacular, it’s a great way to end a good day of painting watching the sun set over the sea with a glass of wine in hand.
My work is either painted out in the landscape or inspired by a days out painting, I rarely work from photographs. I love how painting en plein air captures the artists immediate reaction to a place, I work quite quickly and keep my marks spontaneous in attempt to truly capture my immediate reaction to what I'm seeing. I don’t take too long to decide what I’ll be painting when I find a spot, I want to work instinctively and paint what my eye is immediately drawn to.
Back in the studio I explore the landscape all over again in a different way, revisiting visual details that lasted in my mind but also how I felt in the landscape. While painting en plein air I try to capture the weather in front of me in attempt to translate the temperature, light and time of year, however back in the studio I adopt some artistic licence to explore my memories of the day and the place. I often find myself using the weather and light to translate my experience of place, painting the landscapes in all its seasons is a wonderful tool for self-expression.
My trusty palette knife in the landscape
An en plein air trip on a grey day in Wales
Painted en plein air in Aberporth, Wales
Where my love for painting the sea began
Revisiting the view from Zennor in the studio