Thursday, 9 September 2010

Graham Brace's Environmental Inspiration

Hook Quay by Graham Brace
One of the themes of this blog is favourite locations for places to paint.  

This is a guest post by Graham Brace who is a fellow coloured pencil artist and a founder member of the UK Coloured Pencil Society - about his favourite place for stimulating his art.  It was prompted by a recent post in the UKCPS Yahoo Forum.  I've inserted a few links to places Graham mentions.  

Being essentially a landscape and seascape artist, I’ve often wondered if my specialism would be different or if my creative enthusiasm would be diminished if I lived in an urban/city/industrial environment, much different from the one in which I currently reside.

Although I find many things visually (and mentally) stimulating, throughout my entire life I have always had a deep interest in natural history and been drawn to the natural environment. For this reason, early in my graphics career, I made the positive decision to move from central London back to Pembrokeshire, where my wife and I were born and brought up.

For 24 years I ran a graphic design and advertising business in Pembrokeshire before succumbing to the long held desire to turn my energies to drawing and painting for a living in 2000.

Since returning here in 1976 we have lived in an estuary-side village in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park within spitting distance of the entire spectacular Pembrokeshire coast and the moors and crags of the Preseli Hills in the north of the county (Bluestone country). Indeed, for an artist like myself it is absolute heaven. And believe me, I count my lucky stars every single day!

From my desk in my small studio (which used to be my eldest daughter’s bedroom before she flew the nest) I can see over the rooftops of the terraced cottages below us to the river (which is tidal) and the oak wooded shore beyond and watch boats going by and water birds on the mudflats at low tide. The changing light on this scene is sometimes a wonder to behold.

Bright December Day by Graham Brace

My daily early morning walks take me over fields, through woodland and along long stretches of shore. I often don’t see a soul and the silence (bird calls apart) is sometimes almost ‘deafening’! These walks not only sort my head out but set me up for the day and provide for me endless inspiration and subject matter. I often think that I could spend virtually my entire life just drawing and painting the views and features of interest within a two mile radius of my house. In fact, there is so much to draw on that I occasionally have a real conflict as to what I should prioritise…and I wonder if I’ll find the time to do it all. ‘Is this a form of stress?’ I ask myself!

Having once lived in Cardiff and London for a combined period of 10 years I don’t recall my morning walks around Holland Park (as pleasant as it is) and Shepherd’s Bush stirring me quite so dramatically.

Consequently, I strongly believe that the quality of my environment is essential to what I do and the standard to which I do it.

Pembrokeshire, like Cornwall and East Anglia, attracts creative people and consequently has a large and diverse creative community. From the many conversations that I have had with fellow artists, it appears that we are all inspired by the same stimulus…Pembrokeshire and its natural (and spiritual) attributes.

I can’t be completely sure but if I was a conceptual or fantasy artist then, perhaps, I would not necessarily need to live in such a stunning location. Different people require and react to different stimuli. For my part, I need and feed on my surroundings and without that kind of continual nourishment I doubt if I’d start each day with such a big smile on my face!

Graham Brace is a full time professional artist and illustrator producing landscape and seascape paintings and marketing a range of limited edition prints.  He was born and brought up in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and currently lives and works in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Places to Paint:  You are invited to write about your special place.  Please click the link to find out how you can contribute to my "favourite places to paint" project.

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