I have a solid belief that by gaining better understanding of the forces which shaped the structure of the landscape, I will in turn be able to better portray the 3 dimensional nature of my subject matter in a 2 dimensional way. My overall aim is to become an accomplished landscape painter and, in order to achieve this, the physical study of evolving environments forms an integral part of my development.
Working inside Deception's volcanic caldera, Antarctica
Many natural factors such as sea, wind, rain and ice have acted on the earth over millions of years and, as progressive investigation of these effects will undoubtedly enhance my visual interpretation of my subject, I am committed to researching them as widely as possible.
I paint from life and in the studio. Initially I work on location as much as possible to gain a good understanding of my subject. This is important for many reasons and helps me to work successfully back in the studio from pencil sketches, painted studies and photographs.
Firstly, I plan where I want to paint and then I go there.
Working outside requires a rapid response thanks to constantly changing weather, temperature and light. And wind and sunburn, mosquitoes and snow showers....! It can be anything but easy but it is always worthwhile.
The paintings I do on location are observational exercises. They make me really look at whatever it is I am painting and allow me to understand it. The results may be sketchy, a bit clumsy and sometimes incomplete - because time is usually short and it can often be snowing, windy and bitterly cold where I paint. But it is the act of directly observing, and particularly of computing what it is I am looking at, that is all important. I never ‘finish off’ my studies at home to try to turn them into completed paintings; they are what they are. I like to leave them ‘raw’ so that the problems I experienced and the way in which I solved them, along with the bits that I got right, are there for me to see and to learn from later. As these effects will undoubtedly enhance my visual interpretation of my subject, I am committed to researching them as widely as possible.
5am, Painting at Cuverville Island in the Antarctic gloom.
I occasionally sketch in watercolour but generally paint in Acrylic, with an earthy palette of colours; I'd say I was a tonal painter rather than a colourist. Together with my fairly unique application of paint on board or canvas, this has led to a personal and distinctive style. My approach to painting is loosely based on the 'patient masonry' technique, which itself echoes the construction and wearing away processes seen in nature. I begin by covering the white canvas with a watery mix of colour, usually raw sienna /raw umber or burnt sienna, giving an underlying warmth particularly to cool, icy subjects. I loosely block in the key shapes concentrating on accuracy not detail. I then build layers of paint, thinly in places and thickly in others - often allowing the background canvas colour to show through. Working on the picture as a whole from the beginning enables me to bring together the fundamental elements of an image in an even way, maintaining both balance and harmony throughout the painting.
Copyright of all images and information on this site remains that of Rowan Huntley 2016