I was born in 1963 and have spent 35 years working as an ecologist. It was only last year when, driven by illness (see previous blog), I took up painting seriously . What a glorious, exciting and stimulating adventure it is! But my career as an ecologist means that I have a lifetime of catching up to do as a landscape painter and I have 35 years of mistakes to learn from. My approach to dealing with this is to dive in headfirst. I paint for 50-60 hours per week, and am always sketching (see below), painting or thinking about how to represent landscapes. I post many of these sketches and paintings on Instagram (712 posts as I write this) as an archive of ideas, experiments and hopefully progress. I also enjoy trying different techniques and approaches.
I am constantly challenging myself to think about how to approach painting. Every day I walk for 1-2 hours. At this time, I try and clear my head and focus on two things. First – the natural world. I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful part of Scotland, with delightful landscapes right on my doorstep. It is amazing how these landscapes and the light varies, even during the course of a walk. Second, I am thinking about how I can best capture the light, the tones, the contrasts, the changing patterns and my emotional response.
There is definitely an element of addiction in painting. I’m searching for the next hit, for a freedom where I become one with both the place and the painting and where my work resonates with my emotional response. It is incredibly exciting, but also, at least for me, tantalisingly ephemeral. It will take a lot of time and a lot of mistakes before I get into that zone more frequently.
Brief selection of sketches from my sketchbooks. I sketch constantly because it is a joy and also to improve my skills. The first was painted almost exactly a year ago in Assynt, north west Scotland; the second at Mar Lodge, and the pine tree in my local Drummy woods.
Steve (July 1st, 2020)