Welcome. This show has been 4 years in the making. Even though it has been considerable time since my visit, the lockdown ensured single minded focus and strong recollection. This collection is a showcase of prolonged effects that hiking and seeing like a painter have on one's memory. As I close my eyes intermittently when painting, I feel the atmosphere of the bygone day as I hike in my mind palace. Let me take you along.
Fell: dialectal British for high barren field
Most people in Lake District kept a separate pair of shoes for fell walking. Can you guess why?
Lake District Collection
The journey begins in late July 2016.
To actually hike, one must first use a plane, then train and then rental car.
Arriving in London in the afternoon meant checking out Paddington and Victoria train stations - for the bear and history respectively, meeting a portraiture friend on the train platform, reuniting with my college magazine co-editor and long time friend before doing the tourist thing of visiting 221B Baker Street.
The Volunteer, the pub next door to Sherlock's allowed for a quick sketch and an opportunity to share my portfolio with the server who was an artist himself. When the screen splits, The left side of your screen is for maps.
The right side of the screen is dedicated to paintings and photographs.
Lake District National Park is the apple shaped figure to the top left in the map. Keswick is the first large town within the park when you approach the lakes from the highway.
I did not fancy the many roundabouts.
The ride to the lakes
in my little red car
I was quite knackered the first day - all that driving on the left hand side of the road, the usual issues of car not being available when you reach the car rental, the GPS not present, occurred. We are device savvy people now, ones who travel with back up of maps. Long gone are the real explorer days.
That evening, I met John Malley, water advisor to the National Trust, a professional photographer and a watercolorist himself.
John's work often takes him to the local but now closed mine - Force Crag - a mine that was functional during world war II
The road to the mine was solitary, cold and wet. There was an eerie silence and gloom that I sense sometimes in temperate country side.
However, far off, despite the gloom, bright white dots of sheep appeared.
This was going to be a salient feature of lake district. Sheep.Force Crag Mine
Do you see the sheep?
Looking up High Stiles. The rock seems to be granite like, slick and easy to shear. Lots of purple heather grows in between rocks.
3 High Stile
I got greedy for a second here, wanting to go right at the fork to yet another trail but better sense prevailed. The high altitude lakes called us to the left.
This location was blissful.
5 Innominate Tarn
Wanscale Bothy is a small hut where hikers may stay - by honor code - in a stone hut overlooking a view to die for. Let me show you.
6 Wanscale BOTHY
The hut is bare bones on the inside.
But luxurious on the outside.
Would you paint here?
We are switching to topographical maps to convey the land gradients.
We were going to hike up from lake Buttermere and around High Stiles.
First on my plate was to make friends with John's 3 border collies - Elkie, Paddy, and Mist. That was a breeze.
One sees 2 distinct greens from the road in the Lake District.
The brighter grass looks freshly mowed. The dark greens look like a soft thick velvet on top of the bright grass, set in large swatches.
Up close, the bracken (darker green) is tough vegetation, with a strong stalk and spiked leaves growing to a height that can easily hide children and sheep.
Paddy, Elkie and Mist
the bracken rise high enough to be as tall as fell fences.
You would too.
1 Meet the Collies
2 Climb now
Gatesgarth as seen from hike of Day 2
Now for the paintings!
Drawing inspiration from the hike and the drive from Buttermere through Honnister Pass and back to Keswick.
Day 2 cont'd
3. Honnister Pass
2. Birkness Coombes
'Climb Now' is based on landscape of Birkness Coombes as seen from Buttermere.
Climb Now was juried into 95th Open Water Juried Show hosted by Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.
One suddenly gets a feeling of passage of time when one passes through Honnister Pass and visits the slate mine. The wet, slick surfaces, the lichen scramble reminded me of the first Lord of the Rings - I hurriedly concluded that life may be dreary in these parts in winter - where as a visitor it was endearing itself to me with its laid back pace and carpets of green.
The belted cows, the sharp contrast of grey clouds and glowing greens practically asked for an oil painting to be executed.
4. Watendlath Farm
For a final touch, we visited Lake District's most beloved Lake, Derwentwater by driving up to a location called Surprise Point.
Sometimes, the drama owing to light and clouds is so strange that if one were to paint a true reflection of the scene, it would appear unreal on paper.
Made the studio walls look very happy.
More than two dozen studies across 5 media made the collection possible.
My second favorite piece of the show. It was technically challenging.
Most of my paintings came from the views I saw around Wasdalehead but none has satisfied me. They seem to resonate on social media however.
Despite the internal disappointment, I demonstrated a painting from Wasdale Head for California Watercolor Association on Nov 18, 2020 and will repeat it on December 13, 2020 for Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society.
3. Wasdale Head
Remember the Lord of the Ring's bridge?
The pretty pictures don't show you the immense droppings that sheep leave behind. Thus the separate fell walking shoes.
The ears of the sheep are smitten every year, i.e. marked with color specific to each farmer.Allows for counting when the sheep are brought in for the winter. But this rare breed can stay out on the pastures through the winter.
At Wasdale Head
After having the best Shepherd's pie at Gosforth Bakery in Seascale, I was in for a treat from the West side of the Park.
The largest painting of the collection was inspired in the parking lot of Gosforth Bakery.
The painting is ~3 full sheets wide
11 inches page
Rough sketches, studies, play.
Without John's knowledge, willingness and love for watercolours, I wouldn't have had the chance to visit the lakes in such a wholesome way. I was in Lake District Monday through Wednesday and he took 2 days off. American work culture has us budgeting our 10 vacation days per year. Given that context, the week day tour of Lake District with constant stream of information was special. I was at the receiving end of much kindness in the Lake District.
P.S. If you go, you must visit Heaton Cooper Gallery in Grasmere.