Literature on painting mountains is seldom singular; it lies buried in the literature on landscape painting. Living where I do at present, in the Northern reaches of the English Lake Disrict, for Part 5 I wanted to particularly focus in on mountains, the mountains that surround me.
Some of this urge arose from the fact we will be moving back to Yorkshire in the not too far distant future, and I wanted to explore the essence of these sleeping giants that surround me, up here in Cumberland. Also, as I was thinking about my Part 5 project, the Hokusai exhibition was showing at the British Museum. A linked BBC documentary about his life, and a reproduction of Fine Wind Clear Morning”, one of Hokusai’s 36 views of Mount Fuji, on my Hokusai calendar further inspired me.
This was a detailed exploration of a mountain from many angles, whereas was Cezannes’ exploration and series of oil paintings of Montagne Sainte Victoire were often painted from a similar or even the same viewpoint:
As for Part 4 my the research needed to cover the potential composition. Did I think a series from around a mountain, or studies from a single viewpoint would take the viewer closer to the essence of the mountain I chose to depict?
I needed to research contemporary approaches to mountain painting, and wanted to lift out and acknowledge some of the local heritage of mountain painting here in the English Lake District.
I also need to research the effective use of appropriate media, and particularly for this final piece of work, integrating the different research streams into my own voice. Within this, I also wanted to research and practice new techniques, with a particular focus on techniques that would help me in creating the mood and the unique textures that form the essence of the mountain landscape.
I explored the work of many landscape artists (Sloan K (editor) 2017) (Wolf N 2008), and painters of mountains in other parts of the UK (Bishop P 2015). I studied Turners work depicting mountains in the Alps.
Focussing on more contemporary British Landscape painting, especially in wilderness areas I could not ignore the work (and watercolour techniques) of David Bellamy (Bellamy D 1988).
An important influence for me in Lake District mountain painting was the work of the Heaton Cooper family. I first discovered the work of William Heaton Cooper when I was young. He was born in Coniston, where my family lived for a number of years.(Cooper WH 1984). I particularly like the colour and clarity of these paintings, they capture light and mood effortlessly.
His father, Alfred Heaton Cooper was from Lancashire. He was influenced by Turners work, and recreated several of Turners journeys, before retreating to live and paint in a Norwegian log cabin in Coniston. Like his son, I like the way he uses tone and contrast to create mood and the effects of passing light and weather, strongly evoking feel of the area.
William Heaton Coopers’ son, Julian Cooper, has continued this three generational family tradition of painting mountains to the present day, leading to an international reputation. In his more recent work, he has dedicated himself to discovering a: “relevant contemporary language for painting mountains and rock.” An extensive range of his work can be found here, on http://www.juliancooper.co.uk/
Using similar careful observation of tonal values he has captured the textures and sculptural nature of the landscape in the mountain environment.
I also looked at the work and techniques of Jonathon Trotman, another local artist who is creating some very striking mountain images:
The use of colour is very effective here, so also is the semi-abstraction of the rock patterns, and again, the use of light and shade. The aerial perspective created by the bold use of red in the foreground mountain in the first painting, and by the dramatic sweeps of dark purples and greens in the lower painting is effective, as is the rimming of the foreground and midground rocks with light.
For my technical research, as well as a lot of practice with techniques and media, I learned from Schilmbert T, Townend JH 2014, and Albala M 2009 (especially around composition). I returned to Ann Blockleys’ Experimental Landscapes (2014). The biggest learning curve came after my art teacher, Brian Campbell introduced me to the work of Ann Blockleys’ father, John Blockley. I was introduced to techniques I had not considered or thought possible as I worked through all the books I could find. (Blockley J 1980, 1982, and 1987). I gradually found my work transforming as I began integrating all of the above into my Part 5 project. I found additional help and ideas, in my quest for the textures and essence of a mountain from Moon J 2008 and Nice C 1995.
Sloan K (editor) 2017 Places of the Mind British Watercolour landscapes 1850-1950 The British Museum Thames and Hudson Ltd UK
Wolf N 2008 Landscape painting Taschen Koln
Bishop P 2015 The Mountains of Snowdonia in Art: the visualisation of mountain scenery from the mid- eighteenth century to the present day, Glasgow Carreg Gwalch Llanrwst.
Hill D 1992 Turner in the Alps: the artists journey through France and Switzerland in 1802 George Philip Ltd., London
Bellamy D 1988 The Practical Guide to Painting in the Wild Webb and Bower Exeter
Cooper WH 1984 Mountain Painter: an autobiography Frank Peters Publishing Kendal
Cooper J 2017 Paintings from 1970-2017 Abbott Hall Gallery Kendal
Cooper J 2017 Upstream: new paintings Art Space Gallery Michael Richards Contemporary Art London
Schilmbert T, Townend JH 2014 Tate watercolour manual. Lessons from the great masters Tate Publishing London
Albala M 2009 Landscape Painting: essential concepts and techniques for plain air and studio practice Watson Guptill Publications New York
Blockley A 2014 Experimental landscapes in watercolour Batsford London
Blockley J 1980 Creative Watercolour Techniques Search Press Ltd, Tunbridge Wells
Blockley J 1982 Country Landscapes in Watercolour Watson Guptill Publications New York
Blockley J 1987 Watercolour interpretations William Collins London
Moon J 2008 Exploring textures in watercolour North Light Books Cincinnati
Nice C 1995 Creating textures in pen and ink with watercolour North Light Books Cincinnati
Hokusai Fine Wind Clear Morning From 36 views of Mount Fuji Woodprint downloaded from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_Wind,_Clear_Morning#/media/File:Red_Fuji_southern_wind_clear_morning.jpg September 2017
Cezanne P 1890 Montagne Sainte Victoire http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/index-of-works/resultat-collection.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5Bzoom%5D=0&tx_damzoom_pi1%5BxmlId%5D=001469&tx_damzoom_pi1%5Bback%5D=en%2Fcollections%2Findex-of-works%2Fresultat-collection.html%3Fno_cache%3D1%26zsz%3D9 17 July 2016
Bellamy D Bowfell from Lanstraff Watercolour downloaded from http://www.davidbellamy.co.uk/davids-mountain-watercolours/ September 2017
Heaton Cooper William Derwentwater from Friars Crag Watercolour downloaded from http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk/ September 2017
Heaton Cooper William Levers Water above Coniston Watercolour downloaded from http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk/ September 2017
Heaton Cooper Alfred Pillar Rock Ennerdale Oil painting downloaded from http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk/ September 2017
Cooper Julian Oil on canvas (Cooper J 2017)
Cooper J 2005 Coniston Quarry 2 Oil on canvas (Cooper J 2017)
Trotman J Skiddaw Barrow acrylic and oil pastel on paper :https://jonathantrotman.co.uk/archive-paintings/September 2017
Trotman J 2011 Scafell Crag . Oil on canvas https://jonathantrotman.co.uk/paintings/ September 2017
Trotman J High Walk Acrylic and Oil pastel on paper https://jonathantrotman.co.uk/paintings/September 2017