Mackeral sky over Lands End typifies one of the cloud types that I find most inspiring, no doubt because of the possibilities of visual rhythm and pattern that such skies afford. Cirrocumulus Stratiformis, to give it the correct Latin term, forms “when moist air at high … altitude reaches saturation, creating ice crystals.” (Wikipedia) What is so wonderful for a landscape artist is that with such conditions one can bring out as much visual interest in the sky as on the land or sea beneath, something I relished in working on this charcoal drawing.
“The heart of Cornwall is not a place” a friend of mine told me when I was planning my Heart of Cornwall Paintings collection for the Bodmin Shire Hall exhibition in March 2015. Even though I’d moved to a central location in the Duchy eighteen months previously I found myself agreeing with his statement. The show then became my pursuit of an in depth view of the heart of Cornwall. An aspect that I knew had to be celebrated was Cornwall’s industrial heartland.
A bright winter morning walk up Carn Brea hill provided all the inspiration I needed to help me see this industrial heritage as an ongoing and living part of our culture and to aim to express that in a painting. The characteristic engine house and winding gear that I could see from there were not features of romantic ruin like so many that appear in Cornish landscapes but in working order, surrounded by other industrial installations and power lines. I could see that Cornwall’s industrial heart, a cleaner, healthier heart than existed in the past, is beating still.
“‘Over the mountains, a distant journey hence, / happiness resides,’ the people say.” * Where is happiness? Can we become happy? Our lives, and indeed the entire history of the human race, can be described in a certain sense as a ceaseless journey in search of the cherished goal of happiness.”
Thus my Buddhist mentor Daisaku Ikeda, quoting the German poet Carl Busse, mused about happiness. In the end it is the journey, what he calls “creating value”, that he sees as “true happiness”. For me there’s something magical about the way that the distant hills of Bodmin Moor beckon my eye across the intervening landscape. Then, in painting my way across the shapes between where I am now and the distant skyline, I discover that the journey there, creating the values that are involved, is a source of real satisfaction to me.
* Translated from German. Carl Busse (1872–1918), “Ueber den Bergen . . .” (Over the Mountains), Neue Gedichte (New Poems), (Stuttgart: Verlag der J. G. Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1896), p. 70. quoted by Ikeda in a lecture: Ushering In A New Year Filled With Happiness and Hope
( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/dog-windy-hill/ ) is a celebration of the delightful personality of Rags, the Border Collie Merle who has for many years accompanied me on my forays into the landscape here in Cornwall. We sat recently together on the granite outcrop at the top of Carn Bosavern overlooking St Just and Lands End. There was a stiff breeze from the town below and the sea beyond. This must have carried scents that fascinated the dog while I was able to study her noble profile.
Carnival time, St Columb (https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/carnival-time-st-columb/ ) is a celebration of the festive atmosphere here in my home town during its carnival week in August 2014. The slightly quirky character of some of the town’s buildings, when seen against the light, provided just the right foil for a crazy mass of colourful bunting as it fluttered in the breeze. On a larger scale and more complex than anything I had done since the Lafrowda 2014 canvas, this piece kept me busy for several weeks.