Thursday, January 13, 2011

A trip to the mountains, part 3; solitude and painting


Chalets and a distant mountain, oil on card, 9.5 x 14 cm

Five Araucaria trees, oil on card, 14 x 9.6 cm

Here is a final selection from my little trip to the interior of Santa Catarina, which I spent largely alone and painiting.

The first is very "picture postcard": beautiful places always carry the risk to landscape artists of bringing a certain kitschy obviousness to the work they do there. I cannot find a way round this: for me part of the pleasure of being a landscapist is the delight of being in a beautiful place: it gives me an excuse to go there (I believe fishermen and birdwatchers say the same thing). The only thing I can do is to try to offer a balance by also painting places which are without immediate beauty, such as industrial and suburban sites.

Landscape painting also lends a focus to solitude. And I confess I have the misanthropic tendencies common to painters and it hardly pains me to escape the herd*. Many people do not like being alone, it makes them anxious. But I think for this very reason, that it's important to be alone at times so as not to become enslaved to a social network.

I also feel, when I am alone in nature, that sense of rhapsody so forcefully conveyed in Knut Hamsun's glorious novels, especially Pan and Mysteries. Alongside rhapsody though, comes melancholy, and yearning: emotions relating somehow to an increased awareness of ones connextion with the life and death cycles of nature.

*I've never had the least sympathy with Christianity's generalised love of humanity: how can one when there there are simply too many people.


  1. Largerfeld said something like "solitude is a victory". You should feel proud of your achievement!!! ;-) I hope you are not experiencing the terrible floods where you are. Don't worry about obviousness, that is a product of the artist, not the subject.

  2. Hi Andrea,

    The flooding is further north- thanks for you thoughts.