Why painting has got me reading!

I have started a new body of work: Inspired by nature (moorland, farmland and woodland). In these early days, it is mostly sketchbook and paper focused.  I have described my overall approaches to starting new artwork, and you can read it here.  In it I mentioned reading as part of my process.   I want to get a more rounded understanding of the subjects I choose to paint, which goes beyond my own experiences and observations.

I guess that once a researcher, always a researcher!  So, after a bit of reviewing, I selected 4 books that I am now dipping into!   These are about the landscapes I am starting to explore through drawing and painting.  Even the process of choosing these books made me think more about the subjects. It highlighted what I want to explore and understand more about.  I chose books that will give me different perspectives from my own: history, traveller’s tales, literature, topography, natural history and nature. The additional perspective and understanding will quite likely affect and inspire my painting approaches.

Books I selected

Fields in the English landscape by Christopher Taylor

I am fascinated by field patterns in the landscape. I’m interested in their aesthetics and their historic significance.  My first series of small paintings is currently in process reflecting my interest in these patterns (and I live in a hill town where I see these patterns in all directions!).   This book is a fascinating history of the English field patterns. It describes how they have evolved from prehistoric times with emphasis on what remains.  Although written in 1975, it looks to be a fascinating read!

The Moor (a journey into the English wilderness) by William Atkins

This book takes us on a journey across moorlands from south to north. It explores the moorlands position in history, literature and psyche.   The book is divided into different moors starting with Bodmin Moor.   Not surprisingly I have jumped to chapter 4 to read about my local Saddleworth Moor!  I am up to my wellies in dark peat!

Wildwood (a journey through trees) by Roger Deakin

This one is interesting as I searched for a while before I found it.  I kept searching because the books I found just weren’t hitting the mark.   As soon as I read a couple of reviews and the contents description, I knew this is what I was looking for!    I am already engrossed in Wildwood.  You really do feel that you are making a journey through trees.  So far, I have read about moths, birds, bluebells, camping, growing hazel for baskets and something of woodland festivals-and I am only a third of the way through!    ‘It will take you into the heart of the woods where we go to grow, learn and change’

Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane

I received lots of recommendations for this one and I am really looking forward to reading it. A ‘Joyous meditation on land and language, a love letter to the British Isles’ says the Observer.  I am fascinated by place. Therefore, it is interesting to hear the book described as ‘A kind of manual of how people in love with place and language are created by landscape’.  Ooh, I can’t wait!

Time will tell, If, after these, I hunger for yet more literary feastings about the subject matter I am starting to paint! I think all of this exploration helps me to delve into and identify what is of particular interest to me. It helps support my own narrative and ideas.

What are your favourite books of the moment? I’d love to hear from you so why not drop a response in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “Why painting has got me reading!

  1. A great selection of books. Fields in the English Landscape sounds really interesting to me. The way fields Patterns have developed from the beginnings of time have always fascinated me. I was also wondering whether there are any visual films around that could help with your journey??

    1. Thanks John for commenting and reading. Plenty of reading material! I think for me, the great value of books is the narrative they provide. I am sure that there are films and podcasts too. There’s definitely a number of walking and country file type ones. Interestingly, I am also taking some videos for studio work in winter, although in the main, I like to be capturing initial works from life.

  2. Great list. I’m currently reading Kathleen Jamie’s Surfacing. She’s always poetic and eloquent about landscape and our intereaction with and in it. From Surfacing I really like the concept of letting the landscape come to you.

    1. Thank you for your response Jane. That’s interesting, I haven’t read her books but have been looking at them. It sounds just up my street! I will certainly check that one out after reading my way through these!

  3. These books look very interesting. I am going to I am certainly going to have a look one or two. If you are interested in woodland I would read The Wood: The Life & times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel. My wife and I listened to it on Audible and were absolutely entranced.

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