2 styles of landscape painting

Hi there I wrote this for a presentation as part of a show recently, so I thought I would put it up here

I spend a lot of time in the local landscape, especially Dartmoor. The landscape here is always changing and the main subject of my paintings is the depiction of this changing light and weather, and how the landscape can look so beautiful as it reflects this. 

So I wanted to introduce you to two different painting styles that I use to try and depict this change. I’m now bringing these two styles, the first focussing on pure colour, and the second which is more gestural and focussed on mark making, together.

pointillist landscape painting by british artist matt harvey, oil on board using michael harding oil paints
Dartmoor

This painting shows my so-called pointillist style, using small brushmarks across the painting surface. Pointillism or divisionism was an art movement started by Georges Seurat in the late 19th century. Henri Matisse also used this style early in his career. Painting with dots enables me to keep inventing while painting a landscape. I want to surprise myself with new combinations of colour that I did not anticipate before I started painting. There is a magic in discovering new things in a painting. It felt like pure painting because a spot of colour can work in any number of ways, depending on the other colours surrounding it. It does not change itself, but we perceive it differently as it reflects these other colours. 

The dots also display subtle patterns on the surface as they swirl and move about. I like this because this is something I cannot foresee and it is only when the painting is finished that this becomes fully apparent. If I try and plan this or make it happen as I work it ends up looking crude and contrived. So I can discover something I have never seen before which also reflects the idea that nature moves in rhythms and patterns which are not easy to discern. I can see afterwards that I am also a part of this rhythm and this is reflected on the painting surface.

I’m interested in contrasts of light and shade and how they bring out each others qualities.

This next painting is of a view looking east from Haytor on Dartmoor. I was up there recently and the light was very beautiful as the sun set behind me, with everything changing every second. The beauty of the landscape at this time of year and the colours deeply moved me. I hope to convey some of this emotion and would feel that my painting has been a success if someone else feels that too when they see it. I work fairly rapidly and use the brush with more movement, like chinese calligraphy, where the calligrapher lets their emotion show in the movement of the brushmarks.  I am always trying to find the simplest and most effective way to express my feelings. Because of my background in sculpture I see these two styles as being akin to two different sculptural disciplines. The pointillism is like carving, where the brushmarks build up to create the forms which crystallize on the surface, like when I am carving stone and the chisel marks grip the form and condense on the stone. The more gestural painting is like working rapidly with clay, moving the paint around on the surface, manipulating it as matter. That’s all painting is – matter pushed around on a flat surface, and there’s a beautiful magic in it for that.  

When I am in the landscape, and when I am painting these landscapes I feel happy, I feel the joy of life pulsing through nature and myself. I hope this feeling is communicated and shared through my paintings. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: