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North Norfolk Landscapes

My Inspirations

The North Norfolk landscapes are my source of inspiration. The sea, the sound, and  all the landscape around it. Not only looking at the landscape, that I am lucky enough to find myself in, but immersing myself in the essence of the place, the stalks ,the roots, leaves, flowers getting close to the earth. Forever it has been the way. Always in the North Norfolk landscape, wandering the fields as a young child, picking wild flowers, frowned on now of course. Somehow knowing the names of plants and trees, intrinsic to the way we were. It is impossible for me not to gather herbs and leaves from the hedgerow at all times of the year, for teas, tisanes and flavourings.

When out in the North Norfolk landscapes my time painting has an added dimension. Light, shade, tone, scent and names of plants are as familiar as precious good friends. It is a wondrous thing to spend time in the landscape, in silence observing the scene, the complexity of stalks, grass systems, the haphazard tapestry that is created by plants of all kinds searching for and growing towards the light, always towards the light!

Often my painting is momentarily abandoned to watch a particular insect wend its way through the maze of the landscape, gently, quietly with a seemingly unknown purpose. Patterns on their wings, body and shells unexpectedly beautiful, colours too complex to recreate. The whole experience an education, learning new things, hearing the sounds plants make swaying in the wind, hissing and moaning, sometimes clicking as seed pods burst. Trying to capture this movement in the landscape is an ongoing process. Even on a calm day there is a gentle rhythm, almost imperceptible, coming from the trees and flowers. Very humbly as they quietly sway in the surrounding air.

For many years the marshes and countryside of the north Norfolk coast have been very dear to me. Walking in all weathers, listening to the sea, the birdsong never fails to lift my spirits. To stop, stay still and listen to the quietist hiss of dried grass and reeds, to be drawn toward a plant via the sound it makes. This all leads to a discovery of tiny flowers and leaves ordinarily taken for granted.

I stare, absorb and feel the sea in all its guises, wonder at the roar of the water on sand and shingle. At the quietist, subtle splash of the tide on a calm coastal day. Most of all, the North Norfolk landscape has the most immense skies, sometimes peaceful, otherwise stormy and threatening. Ever changing cloud formations, colour rich, particularly in early morning and sunset. But the stormy skies in midsummer are an all encompassing inspiration to my landscape paintings, in themselves.

Here is a poem from Mary Oliver that sums up my feelings........

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Taken from ‘Mindful’ by Mary Oliver.

Even as a child first at school, the joy of being given a new ‘writing book’ on the first day of term was immense. The mark making with a new and sharpened pencil! Mark making is still tremendously important to me, to portray movement, direction and emotion. Huge lines, fragile lines, feathered lines, thick tapering lines, all tell their tale. Using all sorts of tools to make these marks, pencil, charcoal, pastel, stalks, fingers, in fact whatever comes to hand or feels right to portray the movement in the right form.

I see my North Norfolk Landscapes and my interpretation of what I see evolves into more abstract work, more lines, more energy. This will involve using a whole range of new mark making ideas, to bring a whole new direction to my North Norfolk Landscape paintings - a totally new way to put my inner thoughts on a scene, bring the energy of my inner thoughts to the image. Strangely it appears that my use of colour is diminishing, but we shall see. I cannot imagine not using colour, therefore it will come back. Colour for me gives a different energy to the viewer, it energises me in the process, especially complementary colours juxtaposed one to another. So, a whole new way of making a mark, to create an image is emerging, slowly but certainly, a whole new world of landscape to represent in my work. What a joy.

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