Artists both historic and contemporary have used landscape in their work.
for this research I looked at a variety of artists that work in series with landscape.
Early French and Flemish artists romanticised landscape or used landscape to depict biblical scenes.
During the early half of the nineteenth century the visionary artist Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) produced a series of pastoral works of Shoreham Kent. Palmer used a variety of different media including gouache, ink and pencil to produce his very atmospheric and almost dreamy works. Many of Palmer’s drawings are of monochromatic moonlit scenes. Palmer was a major influence on the neo-romantic artistic movement that emerged in England during the 1930’s and 1940’s this group of artists used landscape as a reaction to the effects and aftermath of the Second World War.
the Victorian influential art critic John Ruskin ( 1819-1900) travelled Europe including visiting Germany , the Alps and Venice. During his travels Ruskin filled up several sketchbooks with drawings of the landscapes and buildings. Ruskin produced several very interesting sketches of cloud formations and he recommended spending 15 minutes looking at the clouds at dawn and drawing any interesting ones.
The artists of the impressionist art movement such as Monet and Cezanne introduced a new style of landscape drawing they painted outdoors producing open air spontaneous painting with a looser and bolder style.Claude Monet ( 1840-1926) even declared that the river Seine was his studio. Monet during his later career painted very large and personal interpretations of his garden.
Herbert Barnard John Everett ( 1876-1949) was a marine artist who left his entire collection of work to the national maritime museum in Greenwich. John Everett as he preferred to be known produced several annotated sketchbooks recording sea voyages – he used a variety of drawing media such as graphite , watercolour and pastel to produce his very vibrant seascapes that seem to me to be influenced by Turner.
David Hockney ( b.1937) a very prolific artist who throughout his long career has experimented with a variety of material including photography and drawing with a fax machine and iPad. During the 1980’s Yorkshire born Hockney produced a series of large colourful Modern American scenes capturing the bright and stark light of the hot Californian sun many with a viewpoint seen almost from above. This group of work seems to really give off a real sense of extreme heat almost radiating of the picture plane. From the 1990’s Hockney spend more time back in Yorkshire where he completed a series of works of the Yorkshire landscape. Many of the paintings are of a very large scale including the immerse 15 by 40 feet ‘Bigger trees near water’ I particularly like the way Hockney has captured the bareness of the winter trees with skeletal branches and the bright blue hues of his palette suggesting the low wintry sun.
looking at contemporary artists working today I was particularly interested in Nicholas Herbert (b.1955) series of drawings of the Chiltern hills. Herbert uses mixed media including graphite, coloured pencils, soluble crayons and acrylic on heavy paper to produce very atmospheric and evocative drawings of the landscape. The drawings seem to express a real sense of the place and they almost seem to capture the very essence and soul of the landscape. They have a timelessness feeling as there are no people or buildings in them. Using a variety of marks Including a stumbling effect Herbert suggests the weather conditions . Using almost monochromatic hues such as greys or earth colours Herbert skilfully captures tonal values. The drawings have an almost abstract quality to them that remind me of Turner’s seascapes and the blurred effect photographs of Gerhard Richter.
John Virtue ( b.1947) is another contemporary artists concerned with landscape. Virtue also produces thematic landscapes. An admirer of Constable Virtue is also interested in capturing the environment around him. His landscapes are always of the area in which he lives from his Devon seascapes to his London skylines. Virtue always works in monochrome on a large almost panoramic scale using black ink mixed with shellac and white acrylic paint. The effect like Nicholas Herbert’s work is very atmospheric and timeless, but unlike Herbert Virtue also focuses on the buildings such as his series of London buildings which include the ‘Oxo building’. As well as his large drawings Virtue has produced a large body of sketchbook drawings. Virtue’s work has a visceral and bleak feel to it. It also seems to have a real sense of movement and atmosphere.
Scottish born figurative artist Peter Diog ( b.1959) also produces work based on his local environment – a common trait of his work is a water theme. From around the 1990’s a recurring theme is a series of paintings of a canoe often white or red. The canoe series are mainly painted in a figurative way complete with details such as the reflections on the water. Other versions include a solitary rather enigmatic figure. There are also some versions that are more abstract with intense bright primary colours running down the painting in broken up stripes which add an extra mysterious dimension to the scene.
I really enjoyed this research project particularly as landscape is a genre that interests me . I learnt during my research just how big the influence of landscape and the environment has and continues to have on artists from many different artistic traditions and cultures It seems to me that artists though out the ages have strived to build up a creative relationship with their national surroundings. This does not surprise me as In many ways landscape seems to have the ability to enchant and inspire – and can even build a connection that is intrerpated in many personal and unique ways. Landscape is essential to human life it nurtures and provides, it is powerful – as light and water are essential ingredients to natural , animal and human life. Landscape seems to define the artist.