Friday, March 11, 2005


Here is a little picture which is quite close to my heart, being as it is one of those pictures where I was brave enough to stick to my original ideas and go out on an experimental limb. So often I have an idea for a picture and what I end up doing is a toned down (no pun intended) version of what I originally had in mind. With this one, what you see is pretty much exactly what I had in my mind's eye right from the start. I call it simply "Triangles".

OK, a few technical details. It's an acrylic painted on A5 sized board, so is fairly small. It was painted in the early part of 2004. It's currently unframed, and sits on a book shelf in my office at home. It took me a surprisingly long time from start to finish: about four weekends of occasional work.

So where did I get the idea for the picture? Well, I guess it dates back to a holiday in the Lake District in the summer of 2003. For those of you not based in the UK, the summer of 2003 gave us consistently beautiful weather, and my family and I were lucky enough to spend one of the hottest weeks staying in a caravan in the village of Lorton, not far from Crummock Water. This picture is, notionally at least, a view of the gap between Crummock Water and Buttermere, looking across at Red Pike. Of course, none of the features in the picture bear the slightest resemblance to their appearance in real life.

Why the triangles? I'm not entirely sure. While we were staying in the caravan I read a fascinating book, written in the 1930s, by a Japanese gentleman who took a holiday in the Lake District and chronicled his adventures. Most interestingly, he illustrated it with Japanese-style sketches of his travels. To see traditional Japanese pictures of the Lake District was to see the Lake District in a completely new way, and I suppose that was the effect I was trying to achieve. Why triangles? Well, I suppose there's something vaguely oriental about the look of the picture, and after a holiday filled with triangular mountain peaks and triangular tent peaks (both of which are depicted here) one thing seemed to follow on from another, and it felt right to make the whole picture should consist of nothing but triangles. In contrast to the sharp angles of the triangles, I wanted the shading to be very smooth, particularly in the forest, and this is actually what took the majority of the time to paint.

My family and I actually did the walk depicted here during this holiday. A beautiful walk between the lakes of Buttermere and Crummock, up through the forest, and onto the peak of Red Pike (which, unlike the picture here, really is red). The plateau you reach above the forest offers a particular view that shields all aspects of modern life from you - even the villages below - and you really can convince yourself you've entered another world. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone that wants to escape from the pressures of the everyday world for a day.

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