Ancient Stones

I am fascinated by standing stones and the aura and feelings around them. My first memory of standing stones was visiting Stonehenge as a child and walking amongst its mighty columns but I only started to really look at and appreciate them in my 40’s when I came across Lanyon Quoit and the amazing Men-an-tol in Cornwall.

My work is not particularly representational of specific stones but I try in my studio to distil the feelings particular groups engender in me. Work in situ can be fairly realistic, information gathering using pencil, charcoal, oil pastel, watercolours or oil paint and writing. However, to get in tune with a particular place can take many visits, lots of looking and listening and time just sat absorbing the atmosphere, letting it speak to you instead of imposing a pre-conditioned response on it. I have noticed, especially in popular sites such as around Carnac in France, that visitors are so noisy and busy bringing themselves to the place that they don’t let the place affect them. I sometimes sit quietly for several hours until I become aware of all the different types of plants, trees, leaves, insects, butterflies, birds and the colours, shapes, patterns and sounds. It takes time, but if you give it that time you can tune into the sense of place and the rewards can be great both artistically and personally.

Although I usually work in bold colours, in oil paint or pastels, a change of medium and the discipline of using a monochrome palette can open up new ways of working and seeing. So I decided to use a medium I did not particularly like, namely charcoal, through which to explore my experience of ancient standing stones in a series of experimental, large charcoal drawings on Fabriano paper ranging in size from 75 x 112cms to 140 x 180cms. I use both natural willow sticks and compressed square section charcoal, along with a variety of erasers with which to draw into the applied charcoal to create a variety of marks and textures.

These are studio drawings which attempt to go beyond a simplistic portrayal of object and place. They are an experiment in changing my usual working process to explore my feelings and sensations about the stones and their sense of place and not rely on my usual approaches and skills. The drawings emerge as a result of my dialogue with the developing artwork which as it becomes more tangible makes its own demands on the artist. That dialogue, between me and the emerging images, becomes a creative journey to an as yet unknown destination.

My work with standing stones is an on-going exploration…..


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