Sunday, 27 October 2013

Wet and dry in October

Autumn is upon us. Even though I have honoured my commitment to my monthly posts I still have lost August! Oh well I'll carry on secure in the Knowledge that it is now definitely October.

All change again as we enter into the second half of the year. It's sad to see the leaves turn colour and fall but with that the cycle of life goes on, moving forward and hopefully bringing new opportunities and new things to experience.

We had a weeks holiday this month and headed to Fontainebleau once again to climb on the beautiful sandstone boulders scattered throughout the forest.

 Wet sands at Rocher Fin
This time the weather was pretty unsettled and it rained persistently for three days in the middle of our week. Extremely frustrating as we hadn't really factored in what we might do if it rained!  This cheered me up. Keep things in perspective!
Collecting beta in the rain
 Needless to say we survived and at least enjoyed 3 days bouldering rain free. It's a vast forest with many bouldering areas hidden amongst the trees. Once out of the forest what is striking coming from Scotland is the utter flatness of the landscape. I loved watching how the distant trees and buildings changed in scale on the horizon whilst whizzing by in the car.The skies are vast too and if I could stay for a few weeks I'd certainly have plenty subject matter to inspire me.
"Two peasants in a field"  Francois Millet

Ipad sketch
We stopped by Barbizon on one of those wet days and I made a visit into Francois Millet's studio and house...I was keen to see the connection between the paintings and drawings and the local landscape. The studio contains a vast array of paintings and drawings from several artists of the time and although most of the paintings were very dingy and dark this connection was very plain to see. There are some very beautiful drawings on show and also Millet's very own wooden clogs placed carefully at his easel. Seeing his clogs gave me a mild thrill!!
 Francois Millet  Self Portrait 1845-46
"Spring at Barbizon"   1868-7  by Francois Millet

Millet's House and studio in Barbizon

Beautiful greens

The forest floor

I love these spiky little chestnut coats

Mushrooms everywhere you cared to look
Walking out

First day 
Wonderful colour

Yes it looks like a happy  pooch!

Back home this week we went bouldering in Northumberland. Time to reflect and both agreed that Fontainebleau is fantastic with some thing for every body and definitely not to be missed, but we are very fortunate to have Northumberland on our door step.
Back in Northumberland
Fun in the sun

Before we left for France a few things about my work had been preoccupying my thoughts. Nothing entirely new in that. Creativity by it's very nature is never static.
 Andrew Mackenzie makes beautifully crafted landscape paintings that are subtly contemporary in terms of their subject matter. We were  fortunate to have him give a talk to our students a few weeks ago and much of what he was talking about resonated with how I feel about landscape painting. My paintings are based very much on the natural landscape but as I have said in previous posts I edit out  a good deal of man made things and focus on the natural aspects of landscape. Nothing wrong with this and I'm not about to start painting road signs and highways but I am keenly interested in taking a less edited approach to landscape if at all possible.
There is an old military pillbox near where we climb in Northumberland (there are many dotted in this landscape) I have seen it many times and a few weeks ago I took some shots from inside the structure, looking out. I was simply thinking about how the openings frame and edit the landscape , anyway I did a few small painted studies before the photographing and am aware of the rectangular motif running through the images. Maybe it will lead to new work, who knows. It's a step I'd like to take, we'll see.