Thinking about the use of typography in my abstract landscape painting…
Portions of newsprint and large fonts, calligraphy and scratched lettering – I’m finding it increasingly satisfying to use these in mixed media work. Lately the challenge has been to source larger found type for recent bigger works on canvas, as the contrast in scale is important. Smaller newsprint still works as texture, but large bold lettering adds the impact I need, adding an exciting graphic element, supporting and strengthening the composition and tonal contrast. Fortunately I recently found a suitable source and swooped on it and my work table is now awash with torn out bits of newsprint.
I’ve been drawn to typography since I was a design student at Stockport College in the 1980s. I seemed to have a facility for it and loved using it as a design element in its own right.
However, recently I’ve been considering other possible roles the use of typography might be playing in my recent works; what it may be subliminally evoking:
The dialogue in my head, inner thoughts as I explore the landscape on location, and also as I conjure up my experience and impressions in the studio.
Overheard speech from other people moving through and using the same landscape – walkers, photographers, nature wardens, fishermen, shellfish farmers, etc.
The apparently wild, natural landscapes are corralled by mostly unseen by-laws, ownership and tenancy agreements, environmental legislation governing its use, and more.
The invisible incessant dialogue of phone signals, radio waves, digital information, criss-crossing the air over most landscapes, whether wireless or via masts and telegraph wires.
Of course I’m not suggesting the content of the lettering that I use is relevant (apart from calligraphy, the content of which comes direct from my sketchbooks). The choice is random, although I suspect certain portions of text may ring a subtle bell with me, or just intrigue me, when I select it.
The train of thought I wanted to pursue in this post though, is that almost all landscape is affected in this manner by human language and numbers of some kind; a pervasive element in some ways as worth acknowledging as weather and light. The realisation intrigues me and in some ways will continue to inform my work into the future. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.