Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year! (plus a landscape art reading list)

Happy New Year to all subscribers to and readers of The Art of the Landscape.

Tomorrow this blog - and this project - is one year old.  This was the very first post on Saturday 2nd January 2010 - Introducing the The Art of the Landscape Project

A View in the Alps
John Ruskin - 1835
Private collection
Painting - watercolor
Height: 21 cm (8.27 in.), Width: 27.5 cm (10.83 in.)
Very early this morning we had a powercut in the area where I live.  This morning when I woke up I discovered they hadn't even started to fix the problem - which made a very grey day even greyer.   I couldn't see to read - having discovered last night that my torch wasn't where it should be!


Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlass
by John Ruskin
Pen, brown ink, ink wash (lamp-back) and bodycolour,
47.7 x 32.7 cm.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England

That's when I discovered that an ipad screen with a nice light background - such as can be found with a good downloaded book - doubles as a torch!  It certainly makes for very easy reading in the middle of a power cut.

Which is how this morning I came to be reading an ibooks version of John Ruskin's The Elements of Drawing and most particularly how to draw trees and landscapes while I ate breakfast.   

(In brief, Ruskin was the man who championed the landscape art of JMW Turner and fostered the development of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.  He also was an inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Movement, the founding of the National Trust, the National Art Collections Fund, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.)

When the power came back on I decided to see which other books were available through ibooks and discovered I could access a number of works including
Modern Painters (1843) is book on art by John Ruskin which argues that recent painters emerging from the tradition of the picturesque are superior in the art of landscape to the old masters. The book was primarily written as a defence of the later work of J.M.W. Turner. Ruskin used the book to argue that art should devote itself to the accurate documentation of nature. In Ruskin's view Turner had developed from early detailed documentation of nature to a later more profound insight into natural forces and atmospheric effects.

Ruskin added later volumes in subsequent years. Volume two (1846) placed emphasis on symbolism in art, expressed through nature. The second volume was influential on the early development of Pre-Raphaelitism. Ruskin also added third and fourth volumes in later years.

I then took at look at the Project Gutenburg site - and found that has a lot of his writing (and associated images) is available to download in various formats - see links at end for just some of them.

So one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to read Lectures on Landscapes!

The Field behind Ruskin's House at Denmark Hill by John Ruskin
1860. Watercolor.


This is what Wikipedia has to say about Ruskin's theories about art
Ruskin's views on art, wrote Kenneth Clark, "cannot be made to form a logical system, and perhaps owe to this fact a part of their value." Ruskin's accounts of art are descriptions of a superior type that conjure images vividly in the mind's eye.[10] Certain principles, however, remain consistent throughout his work, which Clark summarised as:
  1. Art is not a matter of taste, but involves the whole man. Whether in making or perceiving a work of art, we bring to bear on it feeling, intellect, morals, knowledge, memory, and every other human capacity, all focused in a flash on a single point. Aesthetic man is a concept as false and dehumanizing as economic man.
  2. Even the most superior mind and the most powerful imagination must found itself on facts, which must be recognized for what they are. The imagination will often reshape them in a way which the prosaic mind cannot understand; but this recreation will be based on facts, not on formulas or illusions.
  3. These facts must be perceived by the senses, or felt; not learnt.
  4. The greatest artists and schools of art have believed it their duty to impart vital truths, not only about the facts of vision, but about religion and the conduct of life.
  5. Beauty of form is revealed in organisms which have developed perfectly according to their laws of growth, and so give, in his own words, 'the appearance of felicitous fulfillment of function.'
  6. This fulfillment of function depends on all parts of an organism cohering and cooperating. This was what he called the 'Law of Help,' one of Ruskin's fundamental beliefs, extending from nature and art to society.
  7. Good art is done with enjoyment. The artist must feel that, within certain reasonable limits, he is free, that he is wanted by society, and that the ideas he is asked to express are true and important.
  8. Great art is the expression of epochs where people are united by a common faith and a common purpose, accept their laws, believe in their leaders, and take a serious view of human destiny.[11]

I'll finish with another winter landscape - this time by John Ruskin - painted from his home at Brantwood overlooking Coniston water in the Lake District. 

Study of Ice Clouds over Coniston by John Ruskin
    You can visit Brantwood - said to be the most beautifully situated house anywhere in the Lake District - between March and November. 

    It also has a regular schedule of art exhibitions - many of which relate to explorations of the wonderful Lake District landscape.

    Links: Project Gutenburg - files to download

    4 comments:

    Katherine Kean said...

    Happy New Year Katherine and happy One Year Anniversary fo the blog!

    Thanks for the reading list and the Ruskin images. I'm struck by how contemporary they look.

    Katherine Tyrrell said...

    Spot on Katherine - the same thought occurred to me - particularly that last one.

    Katherine Tyrrell said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Steve Kohr Fine Art said...

    I recently came across your landscape blog Katherine, thanks for creating it! I'm relatively new to landscape painting, so I'm in the process of discovering ways to learn/improve my technique....your blog will surely help!

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