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INFLUENCES - What Do You Think a Major Influence Might be For a Landscape Painter?

So the question is, what do you think is the main influence a landscape painter has on their work? Well, this might seem like a little bit of an oxymoron, however I would suggest that it is the landscape itself. As a painter of landscapes, I find it necessary to become very involved with the landscape I am working on. The more affinity I have for the landscape, the better my work will be. I will get a different result if I'm working only from photos and have never been to the actual place than I would if I had been there.

When I spend time in a place there is a lot more to it than only what my eyes can see. Being in the landscape is a multi sensory experience and therefore to attempt to paint it authentically, I require to have as full an experience of the place as possible. I don't know about you but I find myself associating particular smells with certain areas. This colours what I know about the place and therefore how I end up painting it.

There's a place I visit in the summer when I'm able to visit New Zealand. As I leave my beach cottage and walk in the fields there or drive up the road there is a very distinctive sweet smell in the air, like honey, which I believe is the Manuka flowers that line the road in that place.

If I am painting this area I am somehow driven to include that smell within the work. I do believe that we live in a world that is filled with many different energies which interact in ways often unknown and unseen by us. So in my painting I try to convey this extra sensory overlay in paint.

What are the possible influences exerted upon me by the landscape as I paint it. Well really there are so many things, where does one begin? There is the feeling of the place which I think is equally, if not more important, than how it looks and it is my job as the artist to convey that.

Kuaotunu Bay

This painting is in a similar part of the world to the image above it. I have attempted to convey the feeling and richness of the place, within the painting.

Have you ever been in a place that has really bad energy for example. I experienced this one evening on dusk. My sister and I were driving to Lake Wanaka and had almost reached the foothills of the Lindis pass. We saw a sign pointing to a place call the Clay Cliffs and thought that it might be interesting to explore before we continued on our journey.

The Clay Cliffs NZ
The Clay Cliffs NZ

It wasn't much of a digression really, although it was down a very bumpy, washed out road. We had to ford a small stream and then drive through some trees at the foot of these Cliffs. As we did so I felt this mysterious sensation. The hairs on the back of my neck next stood up. I felt a shiver run down my spine and went cold all over. I looked to my sister and she looked back at me, shook her head and I turned the car around and got out of there as fast as I could. We didn't even get out of the car. It felt like it might have been a Maori Tapu or sacred place - I don't know if it was or if it still is but when we were there it was definitely creepy. Not a place to get out of the car and take a photo let alone set up an easel!

And then there are other places that are so delicious, you wish you could stay there forever, as they welcome you and hold you in their warm Embrace. If I was to paint either of these places my painting would need to convey those feelings.

So as you can see, the landscape is itself a major influence in a landscape painting. The are of course other influences that have had an impact on my work generally over time a period of time and that is a discussion for another day.

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