John Cheall

 Artists Statement: My childhood and youth were spent on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. I became accustomed to being able to reach the high moor within only minutes of leaving my door. A powerful and noble solitude was mine whenever I chose, huge vistas stretched in all directions, the towns below diminished to manageable scale, suddenly insignificant. It was here that I began landscape painting in the mid 1980's, seeking to bring a piece of that exhilaration and clarity back to my room.My paintings are inspired by nature, I merely seek to paint things as I honestly see them. To this end I use the camera as a tool for recording scenes and then back in the studio I work from great numbers of photographs. The camera is unsurpassed as a device for recording topographical and lighting information. It has been a tool of artists since the renaissance. The paintings take so long to complete that it is not always possible to execute them en plein air. Though I have worked directly from nature I do not consider any advantage to be gained thereby. The amount of detail I require often necessitates long hours with a small brush under controlled lighting conditions. However I do not consider my works as copies of photographs for the following reasons; the range and intensity of the hues of paints exceeds those of the photograph, the texture and resolution of paint is of a higher order, closer to nature. In addition, the tactile qualities of paint and the range of possible application techniques in the translation of the raw paint into form, closely parallel the forms and processes of nature. The finished painting will, especially when viewed 'in the flesh' elevate any subject well beyond a level attainable with commonplace photography and thus demand a longer engagement. Some interpretation of the photographic source does occur of course if it results in a stronger picture, for example I will often only use the topography and improvise the lighting effects or I will collage elements from several photographs to make an image. The development of hi quality digital photography and manipulation means that I can now be at the easel working from large numbers of photographs taken that same day while the landscape experience is still fresh in my mind.I consider the language of the actual 'photographic' appearance of things to be universal. It does not require special education to understand or depend upon supportive or explanative text. Painting is a communicative medium and as such should be able to deliver it's content directly to the viewer without resort to other media. Using this language of appearance I am trying to paint pictures distilled from my notions and musings upon the tension between the natural world and the onslaught of humankind. To this end I paint a range of subjects from the hard core urban through the pastoral to the sublime solitude of mountain summits though in recent years I have tended towards the latter, largely for my sanity and my own walls! It is more important now for me to celebrate the numinous in nature rather than its absence in the cities.

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