What is landscape art?

Is landscape simply what land the eye can see? Does it need to be free of man-made structures? Does it need to be “panoramic”? Looking from my window across the roof tops to the mist lying between the trees and hills beyond, is this landscape? Would this be considered landscape?

Pine Trees by  Hasegawa Tohaku 1539-1640 ( Public Domain)

Pine Trees by Hasegawa Tohaku 1539-1640 ( Public Domain)

Of course there are no rules about any of this but it interests me to know what we would label as landscape and how vast it would be. For example would a painting of a tree be landscape but not a sketch of a couple of leaves on a patch of grass?

Looking at some landscape artists, I enjoy the work of Fred Cuming , particularly his colour palette.  Several of his paintings feature the moon and dawn and moonrise seem to be  times of day which he finds inspiring.

Black and white landscapes by Peter Doig  offer a sort of compacted landscape which gives a sense of the crowdedness of the natural world and the man-made side by side.

Nerine Tassie ‘s landscapes and seascapes are moody and evocative with a surprising stillness. Even the seascapes appear to be in slow motion. Having watched her work on the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year in 2015, I notice that for me the process is as interesting as the finished work. I very much enjoy seeing how the artist approaches the subject matter and what choices they make.


The sounds of time

The sounds of time have been all around us . The ticking of the clocks and bells ringing to mark the portions of each hour. Now the sounds tend to be silenced . Watches and clocks no longer tick in the same way as they used to . The grandfather clock no longer stands in the modern home, no longer chimes , no pendulums swinging from side to side marking time.

But there is one sound of time that will not change and we do not want to silence . The beating of the heart. Each beat takes us closer to the end of our days. Each skipped beat, those beats that rush and hammer, all are a reminder of what is to come. The stopping of that sound.


Creating Zentangles has been a challenging and creative combination of structure and spontaneity. The certainty of the rules , the size of the square, the practice of the designs , and then breaking up the square to create space for something unknown to emerge as a finished piece. For someone who enjoys doodling it is the next large step .

Viewing this process in relation to photography , I see how photographs can be taken spontaneously and sometimes something wonderful does emerge. It is more likely that the photograph has to be carefully managed , the lighting thought through , the motivation for the photograph would also determine the framing of the shot and the mood.

Of course , photography does not replace other art forms , and in some ways can even contribute to them . Photography can and does capture a moment with such immediacy and accuracy unlike a quick sketch or detailed painting . What I wonder about is the hidden potential in other art forms . Enjoyment of an unexpected result in , for example, the Zentangle, is the creative pleasure that is important to me.



Photography part two: exercise 2

Does the “mechanical” nature of photography make it uniquely suited to portraying time and the passage of time?

Although obvious, I think film is a particularly useful way to present time and the passage of time. There seem to be different ways of doing this including the time lapse images that show for example, decomposing fruit or changing light across a landscape.


Still photography can be effective particularly with comparative photographs. These can be still images of a person or object taken at different times, for example a girl with long hair sitting in a chair. Sometime later the girl can be sitting in the same chair in the same position having had her hair cut. The same girl could be in the same chair some years later as a young woman. In all cases the passage of time is clear.

I think what works well is the potential to capture the detail, to manipulate the light and to create a similar mood.

Can other art forms deal with time to the same extent?

Images can be drawn or painted in the same way as described although this would be more challenging and the sharp details might not be as clear.  Music, by the measuring of beats in each bar is in itself a passage of time.  The passage of time can be seen in something woven such as a rug or blanket, where a pattern might tell a story.

Pixabay CCO Public Domain

Pixabay CCO Public Domain

As the eye follows the original movement of the loom, it is following the passage of time taken to create the piece. The same would apply to any craft with a specific process.  A piece of glass holds the story of its creation from sand, but in each of these it would require the viewer to be conscious of that story and perhaps interested in it.

Theatre, literature and dance all offer a narrative that spans time, but perhaps photography is the most immediate offering. Strangely, it could be the swiftest, showing the passage of time by speeding it up or by freezing a moment such as the image below.

Pixabay CCO Public Domain

Pixabay CCO Public Domain

Reading “On Photography” by Susan Sontag, I am curious about her thoughts that photography is a medium through which works of art are made and that photography itself is not an art form. She writes that from photography one could make different images such as x rays, weather pictures and passport pictures. I had not considered that perspective and of course few people would consider the practical and working aspects of photography as described, to be an art form.

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

I like Sontag’s analogy that out of language one can make shopping lists and bureaucratic documents as well as poetry, in the same way that photography can create different forms.

Photo faux pas

Painting with light might be the essence of photography but the language attached to it is less romantic. We “take” photographs at a photo  “shoot”. The best “shots” are “captured” when they are “lifted” in the darkroom.
If we were drawing the image it might be described as “creating” or “making “ a sketch, somehow inferring ownership of the entire process, but “taking” or shooting” has quite different connotations. Here it seems we are removing something rather than creating it.
There are more concrete examples of this idea of “taking” in some of the taboos around photography. When taking photos of people we ask their permission first, although  in a public place this is not a legal requirement.  Do we do this because if they can see us we consider it polite to ask?  Would we ask if we might include them in a pencil sketch of a scene? Possibly, but with less of a moral attitude.


Tourists take photographs of people in other countries, sometimes with little knowledge of the local taboos. In some countries it is considered rude to take photographs of unmarried or unaccompanied women.  Do we have the right to take pictures of another human being and particularly a possibly vulnerable young woman?


Pixaaby Creative Commons

Pixaaby CCO Public Domain

And what about the dead? Again, this is “not done”. Photos of funerals, cremations, burials would be considered in bad taste while a photographer at a wedding is essential.
Of course nudity in photographs is contentious although “sexting”, sending sexually explicit photographs to another by mobile phone is considered harmless by UK law, as long as it does not involve images of children.
Older photographic taboos may include the prohibition of taking photos of sacred sites, temples and ceremonies, while more recently no-go areas may include government buildings and any sort of military installation.
What exactly is it that we are taking? Information? A moment in time? The soul of the dead? The power of the camera, it seems, is mightier than that of the pencil.

Project 2 Its about time : Exercise 1

Exercise 1

Notes on first impressions on how each photograph conveys movement
Passing Place by Derek Trillo shows the figures facing one another and because they are blurred and the hand rail is not, there is a sense of movement. The vertical lines and colour balance the dark blurred figures.
The bullet passing through the apple is an extraordinary piece showing the passage of time and direction the bullet has taken and then capturing the bullet in midair. The explosive parts of the apple indicate the force and speed.
Harold Edgerton’s image of a tennis serve captures the direction of the movement of the person and the racquet with multiple images. As a black and white image it emphasizes the movement through the contrast.
The image of “Cousin Bichonade in Flight” appears to be the moment after she jumped and before she reached the ground. A wonderful moment of suspended animation.


I tried several ways to capture movement, taking photographs of a moving train, cars, birds and leaves in the wind. None of them worked because the camera held the moment static much as Cousin Bichonade was held midair. With my attempts there was no narrative and no context. I thought about the images described above and realized that  I do not know how to take photos with that level of technical expertise, I looked for a way to show the body in movement. After watching children running, I found there were things  that were  different when the body is moving to when it is still. The weight is distributed differently.
adrian-runningI finally took a photo that indicates that the man is running because of the wide stance, angles of the legs and feet, and the way his jacket is lifting slightly. The exercise was more difficult than I imagined.


Thoughts after reading the commentary


I feel I understood much of what was being conveyed, but I still do not understand how I would create an image such as the tennis serve or any of the others!


As a beginner, I am amazed at the possibilities and although I do understand animation, it is remarkable to see the images of the horse in this way.
I tried several ways to capture movement, taking photographs of a moving train, cars, birds and leaves in the wind. None of them worked because the camera held the moment much as Cousin Bichonade was held midair. With my attempts there was no narrative and no context. I thought about the images described above and realized that because I do not know how to take photos with that level of technical expertise  I had to look for other  ways  to show the body in movement.


The right to copy?

Copyright or copy wrong

Having recently completed a section of work looking at appropriated images, or re-appropriated images, this article gives food for thought. Just because an image can be found on the internet does not make it available to download or copy in any way. I had thought that Creative Commons meant one could do just that but it appears that even CC has its own rules and laws.


CCO Public Domain

CCO Public Domain

This seems to be an increasing issue given the use of technology. And how do we find our way through it without creating so many laws that we become caught up in the sticky red tape that so may artists seek to escape through their art.


These is a sense of ownership which I am not altogether clear on. Apparently you can own an idea. You can own a series of words arranged in a specific order and you can own other variations of marks presented in a way that you design. I understand it from a financial point of you and perhaps even from a philosophical point of view but for me it seems to fall into the category of “Cloudy opportunities for misunderstanding”.


These thoughts emanated from my reflection on  this article in ArtsJournal, an online newsletter.

Commentary on Visual Communications

Studying this section on Visual Communications has alerted me to the unconscious responses and subliminal messages of advertising, and  visual communications generally . I now find myself more curious about the elements of magazine images and the television adverts . I’m also more interested in the opening film clip and credits of television programmes , something which previously I ignored . The creativity in this area is engaging and inspiring me to seek to understand this aspect of communication .

As a counsellor in my day job, communication is an essential tool . I have used a simple form of art therapy to help people express emotions that may feel too painful or scary to speak about , but this section on visual communications has opened my mind to a far greater extent and reminded me of archetypal images considered by psychiatrist/psychotherapist, Carl Jung, to be part of the collective unconscious . An example of this is the ugly witch. When seen in any context this image is most likely to arouse the same feelings . This fascinates me as the idea of an image that transcends language and western culture whilst carrying the same message


I enjoyed looking at the knitting projects and although I have a healthy image of knitters it was a delight to see the creativity end unexpected ideas . Perhaps the most intriguing of the exercises has been exploring images like the “Join the Navy” poster with the sailor astride the torpedo . Although in these times we openly acknowledge and recognize the torpedo as a phallic symbol, in the 1920s that acknowledgment may have not been conscious but would still have had an effect on the viewer. The unconscious message of power and strength through sexual prowess would have been there and actively affected the viewer in the same way that a more conscious response would affect a viewer today.


The relationship between images when re-contextualised is interesting too. I enjoy the idea of building on the familiar image  then creating something partly or entirely different. Where this may be socially-specific, for example in political satire, it becomes almost like an “in-joke” and could possibly be an image with no text.
Re – appropriated images offer a similar opportunity. When researching for the assignment online there were several images used in this way including those of the Mona Lisa, selling pizza, wearing a niqab, and even sporting a smiley face emoticon.

Although I do not feel drawn to study this area further, I have very much enjoyed it and learned a great deal. I have a greater appreciation of the way images are used, as well as the impact of typography which I first discovered as an art form earlier in the course. Despite having little knowledge of how to create images using technology, I have felt inspired to try. With a free app I took my chosen Vermeer image and created something different as shown here. I feel this part of the course will improve my creativity and widen my view.
(503 words)picsketch-2016-09-16-13-22-48

Enough is enough

Enough…by David Whyte

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

Sometimes I feel that there are too many words, too many thoughts. I really do want to say ………enough, basta, finito!  Just stop talking, reading, writing, typing,. Just stop.
I wonder why that is,  and then I read this poem and there is something about the words creating a barrier between the unlived life and the life I create. Hmm.


Exercise 4 Cutting edge

Connecting in cyberspace. I suppose it is true that we are all more connected but connected to what? I buy from eBay and Amazon. I look for ideas on Pinterest and music on YouTube. there are opportunities to play interactive games and Candy Crush and Scrabble are my favourite. However, I am not connecting to anyone else, it is a solo shopping trip and a solo sport.social media
Yes, I use Facebook. Not a lot, but sometimes it is good to see what friends are doing on their holidays. If I “like” a photo I am sending a supportive message to a friend which could be construed as connecting but still there is no real contact. People I have never met ask to “friend” me and then I don’t hear from them unless they are promoting an event or selling a product. I am on Linkedin and people ask to connect with me but I never hear from them again unless they want an endorsement. Maybe its me but this all feels like just another form of marketing and I am not that thrilled with it. I want to engage with people in the physicality of life, not through a screen. I guess I am old fashioned.
However, when it comes to interest groups things change. Literally. Groups of people form organically, attracted by a common desire to either learn more, support others or incite change. The difference between this and mass marketing is that people are doing it for themselves. People are seeking out kindred spirits and connecting regardless of geography. This is what I find exciting.
Although petition sites such as Avaaz and SumOfUs may not win design awards, the work they do in pulling people together from all over the world to demand change, is somewhat spectacular.faces-63516_960_720
Oh, and I do use Skype which is a fantastic way to connect with my son in America, friends in South Africa, work colleagues and clients. Here is an application that does connect people at a deeper level and it is an amazing gift as it is free.



Researching new ideas and sites, I am reminded that new things emerge as a result of an interest or need in the public audience. This is almost a form of systems theory where the feedback determines the product. I came across a few interesting interactive sites designed to calm and reduce stress.
Pixel Thoughts is simple with basic graphics and yet effective in inviting the viewer to type what is bothering them in a few words. This appears in a bubble which gradually reduces in size and disappears whilst offering a reminder of the vastness of the galaxy in which we live. It appeals to me because of its simplicity and the diminishing  thoughts do seem to reduce stress.
Silk is a doodle platform where the viewer creates beautiful images that are relaxing. It is not a drawing tool and actually quite difficult to control but the results and the options are ethereal . The image can be saved, there is no log in, no sense of emails being collected and an extraordinarily pleasant offering.doodle on silkweave.png Here is one I made earlier.



One of my favourite films is The Life of Pi and I was really pleased to find a website called Pi’s Epic Journey  describing the making of the film. life-of-pi1The site is as clever and entertaining as the film with several interactive screens and plenty of information.





A site that does leave me feeling connected is A Network for Grateful Living. There are reading resources, opportunities to contribute to online questions in sharing forums, a beautifully crafted virtual candle lighting, online book groups, videos, blogs and other community based events.  This site has been around for a long time but I still feel that the technology is great and the concept is wonderful. It is upgraded and dynamic, seeing ways to connect people.  . It could be described as entertaining and informing in some ways.

Reflecting on my choices here I see that I am mostly drawn to more relaxing and “quiet” sites that offer something less busy, however I do appreciate the complexity of the technology and the enormous skills of the designers. I am also aware of some of the extraordinary apps available and the fact that my phone takes better photos than my camera.

Yes, it is entirely up to you how new media is used and if it appeals to you.