What do artists do when they hit a creative block? How do you refresh your inspiration? There are probably as many answers to these questions as there are artists. I have different methods but sometimes all that works is a complete change of scene…
A few weeks ago I was going through a frustrating period of needing a serious injection of new inspiration (and cooler temperatures!), along with quite a few other artists I know, apparently. I love Norfolk especially the saltmarshes, but felt the need for hills, drama and a different landscape history.
So I booked myself into a cottage high on a hill, above the beautiful village of Rosedale Abbey in the North York Moors. The green fertile farmland and historic villages of NYM are widely known, but I was interested in the bleaker but no less beautiful high plateau of heather moorland soaring above them.
Although only there for 3 full days I made the most of my time by getting up early and going out sketching and exploring the area until dusk. The weather was bright and warm at first but soon became more changeable with long fronts of dark rainclouds looming overhead, giving me the light and contrast I prefer for sketching.
One of the distinctive features of these moors are the numerous ancient standing stones, medieval crosses and waymarkers dotting the area. The latter two types were placed as guides to travelling pilgrims, church-goers, funerals etc traversing the extensive moorland plateau, particularly in bad weather.
It might not be immediately obvious from these photos but this area is high up. Tucked in between these heathery stretches are deep long valleys of farms, rivers and villages.
No wifi or mobile signal for most of the time was bliss. Sometimes sat amongst the heather and scattered rocks, all I could hear was the buzzing of thousands of bees.
After the long heatwave early signs of autumn approaching were noticeable in the odd splash of gold in dying bracken, russet in some of the heather that was starting to go over and in the lichen on the rocks.
Also, this is ironstone country, the ore was mined extensively in 19thC Rosedale and the industrial ruins still punctuate the skyline above the valley. The iron ore shows through in the stone scattered about and in patches of dark red where the soil is exposed.
All this richness of sensation, of light, colour and texture, began to give me the palette I wanted: muted purple greys, bruise tints, ochres and burnt siennas, warm stone greys. The layers of the undulating landscape, stone walls, crosses, standing stones and tracks offered lines and marks, enclosures and shapes.
Since returning I’ve felt energised by the experience and excited by some of the resulting experimental studies that have been emerging in my studio. I’ll be showing some of these in part two of this post.
Good stuff! It’s true that a change of location can be helpful when seeking inspiration. My primary inspirations come from music, poetry, and research into the work of other artists. Another is to do something different, and recently I’ve been experimenting with casting 3D pieces in plaster adopting a similar approach to the manner in which I paint. It’s quite messy, and controlling that aspect by sealing my moulds adequately is the only formal part. https://www.facebook.com/martinroxart/photos/a.2661920160500135/2661920370500114/?type=3&theater
Thanks for the interesting response Martin. It’s always intriguing to hear how other artists get fresh inspiration and I like the idea of turning to 3D. The nearest I’ve got to that is embedding material into plaster on board and creating a fairly thick textural ‘painting’. I also find music (I have a collection of early/modern classical tracks on my ipad that I often paint to) and poetry very inspiring but in a more indirect way than I think you mean.
Lovely sketches, photos and descriptive writing. So inspiring! Wonderful!!
Thanks so much for your lovely feedback Tricia. Glad you enjoyed the post!
Thank you, pleased you enjoyed the post.