Whenever I get the opportunity to paint outdoors I head for the hills - well the Pennine fells to be precise, particularly those in the south Pennines in the areas around Kirklees near Huddersfield - whatever the season!
This amazing, atmospheric and dramatic location has been the inspiration for a film we have recently created celebrating the beauty of the South Pennines with me painting with pastel and paint in all four seasons, rain, wind, sun, snow and of course 'mizzle'!
There are so many inspirational painting subjects in the south pennines we were hard pushed to select just the few for our 6 minute film packing all four seasons into 6 minutes of compelling watching as I 'worked my magic' across the Canson watercolour and pastel papers.
Graphite was chosen for the Winter work high above Diggle and close to Milnsbridge in Huddersfield creating en plein air studies for the exciting studio paintings (featured) dripping tipping and pouring paint - Jackson Pollock most certainly influential!
The Pennine hills hold a major attraction - old abandoned farms and hamlets and weathered ruins that stand sentinel over the landscape as the harsh weather year by year batters away at the very fabric of each - but still they remain, never giving up. For that alone they just have to be painted!
Pennine gritstone walls that intertwine and stretch for miles across the landscape up and down dale but all too often feel the force of nature until they eventually collapse and are absorbed by nature once more.
It is through these gaps I found a place to shelter to paint my view high above the Pennine village of Diggle nestling in the Valley with huge fells towering above with names such as 'The Big Rough'. How Northern is that!
Deep in the Pennines valleys the mill towns fare better. The old mills still remain but many have lost their industrial voices only to become all spruced up and made into new and modern apartments. Modern and old side by side - another visual feast for the artist as cubic and linear forms interlace in all directions. Yet more great and fascinating drawing and painting subjects!
I feel really connected to the land here - not least because I have northern routes and feel I really do know it. My drawings and paintings created in the Pennines outside within this landscape make me explore and understand to an even greater depth this landscape I'm so compelled to work with as you'll see in the film.
Other artists I've had the absolute privilege to work with include David Blackburn O.B.E. (from Huddersfield) from whom I learnt a great deal. For his vision, creative wisdom and encouragement I will be forever indebted. Many of the places I have revisited in this film were places I went to with him.
Fellow artisan Richard Littlewood (a very gifted photographer from Huddersfield and personal friend of both of us) also knew David well. Richard has branched out into film making and knows the South Pennines really well. it was a real privilege to work with him on this film.
Richard grew up in Huddersfield so his knowledge of the area made the film even better and extra special!
Richard and I feel the South Pennine landscape is one to spend time within, absorb, admire, respect, listen too and really 'feel' - hence the need to express all of this in our film celebrating the beauty of this amazing landscape.
So here it is, our creative vision of the Pennines - grab the popcorn, sit back and enjoy!
For more information about Richard Littlewood's creative photography and film making visit http://www.richard-littlewood.com/
To see David Blackburn's amazing pastel paintings and creativity visit http://www.davidblackburn.org/