The nature of Art and the art of Nature…

Well hello again – it’s been a while. More than a year, in fact. A busy year and a productive year in many ways, but not productive in terms of either blogging or artworks. The Facebook scandal (remember that? – seems so long ago now) meant that I lost the desire to engage with any social media, which itself proved to be an interesting experiment – almost like standing on the corner watching all the world go by. It’s not all been simply idling, however. Things in the peatland world have rather burst into life, but that’s for another blog. Then there’s Marley. She’s added something quite extraordinary to the mix…

Young Marley
Marley – hoping, hoping

The year’s sabbatical has, furthermore, brought something else. During the past year things have been rather quiet on the shop front. A few people (including a boutique hotel) have downloaded my rather dramatic image of Storm Eileen coming our way – see that blog and my Etsy download.

Other than this, however, sales have consisted entirely of artworks rather than photographs. Discussing this with my perceptive wife, she pointed out that people simply don’t tend to hang photographs as interior decoration unless they are dramatic and in some way highly artistic. Given that I have been busy amassing several thousand landscape and cloudscape photographic images from my commuter journeys with the hope of selling some and with the intention of producing a Blurb photobook series of ‘What the Commuter Saw, this concept that people may in general prefer to hang artworks – often the more abstract the better – rather than photographs on their living room walls, gave rise to much pondering.

This pondering, together with watching the extraordinary skies created by Janhendrick Dolsma and Tim Gangon on YouTube, led me to the realisation that if a choice is given between hanging a photograph of an amazing sky on the wall and hanging an identical painting of that same sky on the wall, the painting will almost always be chosen.

This says something rather fascinating about art. It seems that we respond in some profound way to the act of artistic creation, a response that is not triggered by a simple record of a scene such as we might take with a camera or a smartphone. This response to painting perhaps goes all the way back to those acts of creation which have left us with images of bison and auroch painted on cave walls while Neanderthals and Homo sapiens shared the landscape.

Returning to the present day, however, these thoughts have forced a re-think in my approach to photography and art – and have presented me with something of a challenge. While I will continue to record photographic images of my usual subjects and probably post them in my blogs, they will increasingly be used as background material for actual paintings or for manipulation into more art-style images.

As a first step, therefore, I’ve begun working back through various images already used in earlier blogs, starting with my Venice blog, as well as seeking to capture images which have artistic potential. Thus an obliging blackbird defending a store of ornamental cherries as I walked past on my way to the station offered the opportunity for a Japanese-style print, while some of the more dramatic images from Venice have lent themselves to such treatment – and are now in my Etsy store.

Blackbird and cherries
Little egret 1
Little egret 2
Symphony in black and gold

It will be interesting to see how things develop. First task is to watch Janhendrik Dolsma again before tackling my 5,000+ photos of skies…!

Author: Richard Lindsay

Having worked for 20 years in the UK statutory nature conservation agencies as Peatland Specialist in the Chief Scientist Team, I then moved to the University of East London where I ran the nature conservation degrees for several years. Now I mainly undertake research and support peatland conservation activities, including the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, within UEL's Sustainability Research Institute. I also paint.

2 thoughts on “The nature of Art and the art of Nature…”

  1. Richard is easily one of, if not THE top most Scientists in Phytosociology. Specifically Peat Bogs.

    Iā€™m proud to say he was my Lecturer and is my Mentor!

    1. Idris, you are too kind [indeed I suspect that there may be one or two French phytosociologists with other views šŸ™‚ on your generous comment], but it’s always been a source of great pleasure to be your Mentor. Enjoy…!

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