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Landscape, Figure and Natural Beauty

Vincent van Gogh is best known for the fabulous landscapes but he said in a letter to Theo in 1882, "Much as I love landscape, I love figures even more.”  That is interesting because I also began besotted by landscape and nature and thought it was down to a past life embroiled in wildlife conservation that always kept at bay the human figure.  Eventually though they came to merge in the Figurescapes.  And by and by Figurework became more central.  It’s an example of the evolution necessary to progress.

I can see now more clearly how Cezanne ended up painting his strange huge Bathers.

Today, in a curious coming together of disparate things

The colour green

Lots of painters agree: green is a devilish colour.  Certainly many UK landscape painters would.  At this time of year grass re-emerges in brilliant emerald splendour…

oops, regressed for a moment there back to Natalie Wood ‘Splendour in the grass’, for as Wordsworth said…

“Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower”

 Hmmm, anyway, schoolboy fantasies aside, green is everywhere, yet fiendishly difficult to nail down accurately.  We search for equivalents.  Although I no longer venture out much into the field (other than with sketchbook and trusty small tin of oil pastels and chinagraphs) the colour is still there – taunting and frustrating!

Recently, I’ve noticed many of my models and figure subjects have begun mysteriously to appear dressed...


A preoccupation with surface values corrupts "modern art" (not the '-ism' but merely art done today).  Such preoccupation all too easily equals lack of depth - almost by definition.  The pace, distractions and opportunities afforded by 'modern' life result in a universal scanning mode of observation.  Without superficial 'gloss' a thing has no chance of being noticed, let alone appreciated. This so easily then becomes

To capture an idea

It's one of those cliches that gets under your skin.  Well, under my skin, since it's not something I've heard others complain about: it's the notion that as painters we 'Capture' something.  You hear it all the time: "So and so has captured this or that".  Said without thinking, as cliches are.

When I was working in Natural History and involved in field trips, what most people seemed largely concerned with was...

Cezanne and his Card players

Following my last entry, I have just returned from seeing this superb little exhibition at the Courtauld Galleries at Somerset House.  'Little' in size perhaps but most certainly not in scope, depth and value to the serious modern artist.  To be able to get beneath the surface of these important works, see how the concept was developed, the thinking and process made manifest was vital to me as someone whose valued Cezanne above all others for some 40 years.  And moreover to...


Question: What is it about a painting that makes it the unique art? 

Answer: Surely exactly that: its uniqueness! 

OK, very droll, but what does that mean?  For me, simply that...