"The artist...is also a born adventurer. His explorations, unlike those of a tourist, are rewarded by the discovery of beauty spots unmentioned in the guide books, and with tireless curiosity and an exceptional proneness to wonderment, he will come upon objects of remarkable interest overlooked or even shunned by more disciplined observers."

Augustus John, R.A.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Riggindale Horseshoe

A few years ago I walked the Riggindale Horseshoe in the eastern fells of the Lake District. Starting from the head of the Haweswater reservoir in Mardale, I climbed up Kidsty Howe, onto Kidsty Pike and then across the Straits of Riggindale to the summit of High Street before descending back to Mardale down Long Style. It was a glorious late summer day in mid September with clear blue skies, Red Deer on the fells and Ravens cronking overhead for company. And surprisingly for the Lake District very few other people around. So for the most part I had the fells to myself. I hadn't gone with the intention of it being a painting trip so I only had a small A5 sketchbook and my Rotring Art pen in my rucksack, but I did a few drawings of the Ravens flying around and a Buzzard overhead. However, as I came off High Street down Long Style this view of Blea Water opened up in front of me. The small lake nestled far below, gleaming like a blue gem in its bowl of deep blue shadowed crags. I did the quick pen sketch above and sat contemplating the view, wishing I had brought some paints.
Over the years I have tried a few times to do a watercolour from the sketch with little success. I couldn't recreate the intensity of the effect of that initial view and the works looked too laboured and contrived. So this week I had another go trying a different technique. My usual method wether working on a watercolour, linocut or illustrations requires a lot of careful planning with the subsequent work being based over a strong and careful drawing. This time I took a canvas, flooded it with an orange brown ground colour made by mixing french ultramarine with cadmium yellow deep and just started painting with no underlying drawing at all. Working from the deep cast shadows to the lighter tones in the foreground.

Blea Water from Long Style.
Acrylic on canvas. 406mm x 508mm.


Keith Tilley said...

Well I hope you're pleased with this one, because I think you should be. I really get a feeling of looking down from a great height into the blue waters.

Is this a technique you will be using more in future?

Are the eagles still at Riggindale?

Stuart Brocklehurst said...

Hi Keith,
Thanks for the encouraging comment. Yes I think I will do more painting this way. Oddly I found it quite relaxing to start painting without knowing quite where or how it would end. And I am pleased with the result.

There is still a male eagle in the valley, but the female died a few years ago.

Emma Anderson said...

This is a great success, Stuart. The blue water is outstanding.