An introduction to

 `Interpreting the Landscape'

Is this the book you've been looking for?

"develop, change, distort or adapt the appearance of the real world"

You may have picked up books from the shelves of an art bookshop hoping to find one which would show, not just finished paintings of landscape or shoreline, but photographs and sketches of that very bit of the world which was the artist's source of inspiration in the first place. It would be even better if the book also showed how the original source material was further developed through drawing or sketching. Finding such a book has always been difficult. Even as a professional artist, I would always find it useful and interesting to see how other artists develop, change, distort or adapt the appearance of the real world to produce their pictures. This book sets out to demonstrate just such procedures. In it, I have tried to demonstrate how a painting comes about. How to assimilate, select from, reject or alter the source material in order to make some kind of statement about the visual world we live in, whether it is a small corner of a local fishing village or a gathering storm over the distant hills.

     Road near Montrave





Using photographs

There are those who might cringe at the thought of using photographs as source material in the production of their art but I am not one of them. In addition to a thirty year career teaching art in secondary schools, I have taught extensively in art clubs with adults of all ages and abilities, who use (usually wrongly) photographs in their work. Having observed the use, misuse and abuse of photographs, I came to the conclusion that photography is an invaluable tool which could be a tremendous aid in the production of good landscape painting but which is also capable of totally stifling all creative activity if used in the wrong way. This book seeks to illustrate, using my own photographs, drawings and paintings, the benefits of the former state and at the same time illustrate equally forcefully, the pitfalls and impoverishing nature of the latter.

"photography is an invaluable tool"

"Threatening Sky"


       "Near Montrave Looking South"



"This book is for anyone ... who wants to be better"


   'Watery Sun'


What is in this book?

What you will not find in this book are clever demonstrations which may look good but don't really help the reader to improve his or her picture making skills. Neither will you find detailed information stating why Hooker's green is much better than viridian for painting grass or why you should never use a particular blue for painting skies. There are no golden rules and strict procedures which must be followed. Instead you will find a simple explanation of the "language" of picture making and how some basic knowledge of composition and colour can enable the painter to paint better pictures which are not only well constructed, original in concept, but which give the artist more and more confidence in his or her own abilities. Many who will buy this book will be amateur painters who work on their own or with others in an art club. They do not want to be artists, nor do they want to make a living by painting. They paint purely for enjoyment but they all want to be better than they are. This book is for anyone, no matter what their ability, who wants to be better.

Contents of the book

Buy 'Interpreting the Landscape'

Top of page