I have been painting & illustrating in watercolour & pastel for over thirty years (yep I know I don’t look that old lol!) and consider myself very lucky because I was raised in one of the most picturesque areas of the U.K the Scottish Borders. I have since then been fortunate enough to have also lived in the Derbyshire Peak District and more recently the Cumbrian Lake District where I am now based. Due to this, inspiration for my work has never been hard to find and landscapes were an obvious choice of subject for me.
As a young child some of my fondest memories were of times spent climbing mountains which is a passion that has carried on into my adult life. This has meant that from a very young age I have been regularly exposed to scenery that literally takes your breath away - even more so if you have just climbed 3-4000 feet to get there!
I have however always been aware that unfortunately the vast majority of people will never see many of these places so in some small way I try to pass these precious memories and experiences on through my work because I am very passionate about helping people to appreciate the natural beauty of the beautiful countryside that we are so lucky to have in abundance here in the U.K. If you appreciate where you live you will look after it a little better.
My Painting Philosophy
Now I am going to let you into a little secret which is that roughly 80% of the landscapes I paint are actually completely from my imagination. This is something that many of my peers have never been able to understand because generally speaking as a landscape painter it is infinitely easier to paint a location that actually exists with the use of reference material than it is to make up a fictional landscape.
This is also something that constantly surprises many of the people who view my work because very often they feel like they have visited these places before. However that is no coincidence because it is my philosophy that when a particular place holds a special place in our memories it is not the actual physical location that we fall in love with but rather the way we feel when we are there. This means that simply by adding specific elements or colours into the landscape in a painting it is possible to transfer your memory of another place into the painting. Make sense?
For example if I painted a harbour scene where all the cottages had red roofs then most people here in the U.K would immediately associate the painting with the east coast of either Scotland or Yorkshire. On a similar note If I painted another coastal scene where the water was turquoise then the majority would place that scene as somewhere in Cornwall or Devon or maybe even the West coast of Scotland although admittedly on the West coast of Scotland that colour may only be apparent two or three days of each year lol!
The point being that in both examples it was one element/colour that led the viewer to assume the locale of the landscape and so by deciding independently where the painting is based they have already started to create a story and form an emotional connection to the painting.
The sole function of a painting as far as I am concerned is to trigger an emotional reaction in you the viewer and one of the best ways to do this is as a landscape painter is to provide you the viewer with a place to escape to. So if viewing one of my paintings triggers a memory of a place you hold dear and associate with happy memories then I have achieved my goal.
This approach also means that the painting will always hold a special place in the affections of the person who purchases it. In other words it will never just be something to hang on the wall! This is also I might add the reason why I very often include a figure or figures in my work because again this helps to place you in the painting.
Impressionism vs Realism
Very early on in my career I made a conscious decision to opt for a more impressionistic style because not only does this allow me to be more creative in my application of the paint or pastel but it also allows each viewer to interpret the painting slightly differently and to create their own story around the painting.
Why Watercolour Painting?
Watercolour is my main medium and the one that I started out in initially and although I love painting with soft pastels watercolour will always be my favourite. Unfortunately saying that kind of puts me in the firing line because as a professional artist that is basically the equivalent of a parent saying they have a favourite kid - it’s just not the done thing. Even though if we are all honest we do lol!
So why watercolour? Well that’s a good question because there seems to be a bit of a misconception that watercolour is some wishy- washy sketch medium. Well take it from me watercolour is most definitely not a sketch medium and when used to it’s full potential it is capable of producing exciting, bold & colourful images that will make a strong impact on any viewer.
I was very fortunate to have been exposed to the work of some fantastic artists when I was making my first tentative steps with the medium who were basically pioneers in what could be done with watercolour when you just let it have a bit of freedom. The artists I am talking about were certainly not traditionalists and would revel in the opportunity to break a lot of the so called rules of watercolour at any opportunity and it is this almost rebellious approach to the medium that I employ to this day in my own work.
It is my firm belief that it is the results that matter not how you get them and on that note I hope you like the results of my efforts!
If you have any questions about any of the work on display or indeed my methods please feel free to get in touch. You can contact me here.
As Billy Connolly would say thanks very much for listening to my inane drivel!
Greg Howard - That's me!...
Creator of all artwork, scribbling's, doodling's & rambling's contained on said website.
Painting at Art In The Pen Skipton
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