Monday, 12 April 2010

What's your favourite place to paint?

Thomas Girtin 1799
Pencil, watercolour , scratching out on laid cartridge paper
41.6cm x 53.7cm (approx. 16 x 21in)

The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester

I've been fascinated recently while reading a biography of Tom Girtin to find that he embarked on a number of sketching tours around the UK - and that Turner then followed him around the country drawing the places he'd already drawn - from more or less the same spot! As they were good friends I had mental visions of them spending time pouritng over maps while Girtin explained where to go and what were the best views!

It's certainly very apparent from reading his biography that even in eighteenth century England, certain places were very popular. Sometimes because they were easy to sell. Sometimes because they were a great view. Sometimes because they fitted with the romantic notions of the time about what was a 'a good view'.

Durham Cathedral (see top) has been a favourite subject for visual artists for hundreds of years. I used to stare at it for many years while travelling back and to school on the train. I could see why it worked as a view but it really didn't appeal to me personally.

I also remember puzzling a lot when I started to draw and paint about how one was supposed to select 'a good view'. Gradually I found that the more I looked and looked the more I began to see possibilities. I knew I was in trouble when I'd find myself driving in new areas mentally framing and then ticking off 'good views' as I passed them as placed to go back to if I had the time!

However it took quite a while for me to discover that I love doing really big views.

I have in fact driven long distances across France to go back to views I've seen once and never had the chance to draw at the time. Or wanted to draw again. I haven't got a clue as to why they attract me. I didn't even realise they did until I started to put my website together and realised I had an awful lot of big views. What I think used to be called "a vista" - hence the title of the gallery Views and Vistas.
vista noun (vistas) 1 a view into the distance, especially one bounded narrowly on both sides, eg by rows of trees. 2 a mental vision extending over a lengthy period of time into the future or past.
ETYMOLOGY: 17c: Italian, meaning 'view', from Latin videre, visum to see.
View from the l'Esplanade at Domme
12" x 16", coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This one was started while I had lunch on the terrace overlooking this view of the River Dordogne beneath the bastide town of Domme in the Périgord Noir area of France.

Interestingly Wikipedia says remarkably little about what is a 'view' - and yet artists spend a lot of time trying to find a 'view' to paint.

I talked in the previous post about how I've always used maps to try and find good places to draw and paint. I've also listened a lot to what other people have had to say about their favourite places to paint and why they liked them.

Hence this post is an invitation to say a bit about what's your favourite place to paint.

Even better if you've done a blog post about it I'd like to highlight this on this blog.

I'm also going to try and develop an inventory of 'good places to paint' in the Location Page (see top - underneath the title). A sort of reference site for if you're going somewhere new and want to know good places to paint.

Of course you can't beat finding somewhere that only you know about - but if you'd like to share - feel free to say what's your favourite place to paint. (You don't have to stop at just one!)

Note: Girtin's painting at the top is a salutary lesson in what happens when you use fugitive colours - the blue in the sky faded long ago! (See What are fugitive colours?)

2 comments:

Patty said...

Breathtaking drawing!

vivien said...

One of my favourite places :>)


I've sketched from there too - more sketchy, less finished. A fabulous spot.

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