Like rabbits…

Like many artist before me I have looked to our planet’s changing seasons for inspiration. Whilst my work usually focuses on the relationship between seasonal change and animal life, it has rarely focused on the landscape itself, which suggested an interesting new perspective to pursue.

I started my journey enjoying some of the finest autumnal art about, including Bonnard, Gaugiun, Hockney, Hokusai, Hopper, Hassan, Kandinsky, o’Keefe, Klimt, Millit, Monet, Rousseau and van Gogh. 

All, except van Gogh, use rich multi-tone palettes, reminiscent of autumn, along with visually complex compositions. All use of negative space, or it’s absence (o’Keefe), masterfully.

In contrast, both van Gogh’s Autumnal paintings use a constrained colour palette combined with interesting compositional plot twists to add visual interest. In Autumn Landscape (1885) he used a duo-tone palette and a repeating composition of trees, whilst in Autumn Landscape with Four Trees (1885)  a simple composition of trees is made whole by the masterful use of a, predominantly, tri-tone palette. I was intrigued by how van Gogh used these plot devices to create visual interest and accentuate the focus point of each painting, whilst not overwhelming his audience. 

My efforts at landscape photography always sufferd from the intrinsic limits to organising otherwise static visual elements within the viewfinder. It was only when I viewed the wonderful lith prints by Rudman, Spence and Worobiec in the context of van Gogh’s duo- and tri-tone paintings that I saw the opportunity to improve composition by manipulating the hues & tones within an image. 

Don’t missunderstand me! My efforts as a new artist is not comparable to those of the giants that created masterpieces with the stroke of a brush. I merely hope that, by peaking over their shoulders,  I might gain some small insight that moves my work forward.

The appeal of a lith-based approach lies in one’s ability to control positive & negative space through the tone curve, whilst strengthening the composition by using a limited colour palette. This idea has opened many artistic avenues that I am now exploring. However, it does take a bit of courage to ignore the established dogma on how prints should be prepared!

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

John Steinbeck

Below I show a sample of four images made during the autumn of 2019, now redeveloped to incorporate these ideas. Before they were merely competent postcards, the kind you buy at the kiosk on the way out. After some effort in the darkroom, they now reflect my relationship with nature at this time of the year. Do stop by my portfolio of Recent Work to see where this idea has taken me!