I’ve been developing on my I-Pad some of the drawings I made in my sketchbook during my time in Norway this last week. I’m getting more fluid on the Brushes app it and it’s a great tool for painting on and to experiment with different effects to adjust the light, colours, and tonal values, as well as various textural mark-making. Many of these experiments are unlikely to be seen in the finished images (in fact I hope they aren’t), and despite their digital origins I think the studies still appear very painterly.
I particularly like this canoe image (top) but one can’t help feel canoes on lakes are out of bounds thanks to Peter Doig’s famous paintings of canoes on lakes. The empty canoe just brought a different dimension to the image that I like. I’m still working on the image of the forest, and this week I also completed a larger oil painting of a similar scene after a small study I had made.
A few people have visited the studio lately or commented on the online images of the work I made in Scandinavia. Many people have enjoyed the natural beauty in the images, others have made clear connections with my motorway paintings, while others have bemoaned the lack of ‘meatiness’ in them, but I struggle with words like that and what that actually means. I think it may mean they lack a more social dimension, but that’s not ever really my intention. I just strive for an authentic relationship with my material, and hope that translates into something worthwhile. I certainly don’t strive for ‘meaning’. Rather I hope the meaning will reveal itself to me.As I’ve made these pieces lately I have found myself right back in that Norwegian forest which has felt quite gripping and powerful because of my experience there. It feels like I’m beginning to approach landscape in a more personal way, and understand more deeply what it is to try and depict a particular place.
'Out Stealing Horses'
I’ve also been really enjoying reading Norwegian author Per Petterson’s ‘Out Stealing Horses’, an excellent novel set in this area of Norway. It describes so vividly the natural landscape, with the character’s relationship to the forest and lakes forming a backdrop to a very moving story of grief and loss. Through working on location there my own relationship with this place seems that much more embedded in my mind, and I find myself much more able to put myself in the story. In starting to make my own paintings from my trip I also feel I’m beginning to tell my own story of those few days…