Landscape painting in mixed media materials
Landscape painting in mixed media materials

This is a mixed-media landscape painting on canvas. It is semi-abstract and expressionistic in terms of technique and style but there are elements of perspective and simple spatial devices employed in the work. It reflects my day-to-day experience of living in the understated yet dramatic Fenland landscape of East Cambridgeshire. The word ‘till’ is interchangeable with ‘until’ and I have tried to suggest both meanings in this piece. Working with the land is about understanding time and intervals of time, it is about the importance of rhythms of activity and inactivity, of waiting, of anticipating……until. It can also refer to a vault; a place to hold treasure.

The heavy texture of this painting combines gesso, sand, plaster, marble dust, bitumen and oil paint. The materials have a direct relationship to the physical qualities of the land and I feel this gets me closer to the reality of earth. I apply the materials with a variety of tools, scoring, carving and digging back through the surface with multiple layers. I often work outside the studio so that I am not constrained by the need to keep materials and paints in check. I enjoy working in the open air…. like walking through the landscape, it is a liberating experience.

Landscape painting in mixed media materials
Detail
Landscape painting in mixed media materials
Detail

Breckland or the Brecks is a wild landscape of dark forests, open heathlands, sandy soils and iconic belts of pine trees that straddle the Suffolk and Norfolk border. On the edge of the vast Thetford Forest lies Brandon Country Park, a beautiful location, particularly at this time of the year. Naturally, I had my camera with me and here is one of the photographs I took this morning, just as the sun appeared. For the photographers who may be interested, I was using the Panasonic Lumix G9 and Olympus 12-40 lens.

I am reliably informed that Autumn is the best season for finding unusual Funghi in the forest and I wasn’t disappointed; there were mushrooms in abundance. In retrospect, I really should have brought along my macro lens and tripod but this handheld shot will give you an idea of what you can find.

Amanita. muscaria is a bright red-and-white mushroom, and the fungus is psychoactive when consumed…..you have been warned.

Processing…
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I think we are all fascinated by graveyards and the stone memorials, particularly those attached to churches dating back hundreds of years. According to local records, the cemetery at the Holy Trinity church in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire has existed since the early 13th Century. Just to reassure you, this isn’t a morbid preoccupation of mine, I just like the sculptural qualities of the headstones and the often delicate engravings and relief carvings that accompany them. In the older graveyards the stone surfaces are extremely weathered and often exhibit a rich and elaborate patina of lichen and moss. This transformative process enlivens the colours and texture of the stone.

When I took these photographs around midday, the sun was very bright and i decided to focus on a monochrome interpretation and the extremes of light and shade.

The Waltzer, Fairground Ride
The Waltzer, Fairground Ride

I have always been fascinated by Fairgrounds and Fairground artwork and, let me say quite clearly, it is art. The life and energy conveyed by the fabulous array of lettering and graphics is quite simply stunning. These photographs were taken recently at Thurston’s Fun Fair at Saffron Walden held on the Common in the centre of town. I have done very little post processing because I didn’t need to, the images are great because of the extraordinary talents of the ‘sign-writers’ or digital designers… and not because of any tweaking I may have done. They remind me so much of the 1960’s hyper realist art movement and painters such as Ralph Goings and Richard Estes with their images of everyday life in America including hamburgers, cars, street signs, shop fronts and window displays. In a sense I have simply been recycling these techniques and given them a slight painterly quality…thus closing, or maybe continuing the circular relationship between photography and painting.