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Posts tagged ‘Landscape’

Painting my travels: Castagneto Carducci

Painting is slowly re-entering my life. It’s been a long few months without it. As many an artist will tell you, it’s difficult to find inspiration when life is unstable, and an international move, a new London job, plus a mammoth redecoration project has done few favours in terms of my artistic production. But how could I not be inspired by my recent venture to Tuscany? The photos I have been sharing over the last couple of weeks go far in demonstrating just what kind of a place it is. As soon as I awoke on the first sunny day, the birdsong, fresh air and sunrays combined to fill my mind afresh with hypothetical paintings. And this one is the first to result from that round of preliminary creative ideas.

My 2016 collection, interpretative abstract, instigated a new abstract language in my art, one which has followed through to subsequent creative projects, and even the way I choose to capture landscapes in my photography. This meant that as I wandered the towns of Tuscany, I saw the sunlit streets not as townscapes, but as a series of abstract compositions. I was aided in this interpretation by the stark contrast between shadow and light, often casting distinct geometric patterns and lines across monotone building walls, and likewise by the nature of Tuscan streets which are inherently narrow resulting in a more dynamic composition of vertical and horizontal planes.

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Castagneto Carducci #1 (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, watercolour and gouache on paper)

The result is this painting, entitled simply Castagneto Carducci #1, after the town which inspired it and which was featured on Wednesday’s Daily Norm. It uses watercolour, which is not a medium I utilise often, but whose transparency leant a very authentic depth to the depiction of the texture of Tuscan walls. But it also uses gouache in creating flatter colour planes, and the combination of media, together with an angular geometric finish to street-inspired constructs, forms a landscape which is at the same time an abstract composition.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

 

Tuscan Towns #3 – Casale Marittimo

Driving along on the slower (and far more beautiful) inner coastal road from Castagneto towards Livorno, you may notice on the hills beyond the acres of vineyards a perfectly formed little town perched up at a height. Small as a toy town but quaint in every respect, there is very little in Casale to place it on the tourist map, but with its cute little central square and an endearing piccolo church I defy it not to please any visitor to the max. But for us Casale was not about the uniquely formed sloping streets or the picture-perfect micro-shops. It was about the views, and one very special lunch spent appreciating them.

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At the Osteria L’impronta, we enjoyed one of those lunches that will linger a long, long time in the memory. With the most incredible private terrace all to ourselves, a soundtrack of jazz, sun rays bouncing off the table’s edge and an endless supply of wine produced on the very land whose spectacular appearance we spent our whole meal admiring, it was like a lunch from a legendary time of utopia. The kind of occasion writers conjure up and artists swoon over. And then there was food – a mix of perfectly al dente pasta, crusty bread with deep golden olive oil, and unctuously rich cinghiale (wild boar) from the surrounding landscape. All combined to make this lunch the culinary high point of our holiday, and a true homage to this legendary region of Tuscany.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Mallorca My Highlights – Part Two: The Second Year

Sometimes I find the thought of Mallorca almost unbearable; that I had such a paradise on my doorstep, that now it feels so far removed from my reality. The ease with which beauty was so readily embraceable; the speed with which it was taken away. The silky smoothness of fresh air as it filled the lungs. The sound of the waves as they nudged gently along the shore.

Yet had I stayed for longer it would have been a paradise lost. A true skill of life is in knowing when the leave the party. Linger too long and the magic is spoilt, and with it the memories are tainted.

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Happily the renewed distance from my beloved Mallorca serves only to enforce the perfection of our two year residency, to allow me the chance to reflect fondly upon a life altering adventure which enabled a level of displacement of which few people can boast. Yes we worked, but we also lived, and the weekends, the evenings, even the mornings in the sun were like an extended holiday. Like we were cheating time.

So in this second collection of Mallorca photos, I look back over our second year on the island, a year in which there was still much to discover and during which the creation of photos went hand in hand with the flurry of artwork I created.

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This may be my final reflection on my two years worth of photos, but it won’t be my last post on Mallorca. For the island has more than earned its place in my heart, and will continue to inspire me. In my reflections, I will relive the turquoise sea and the earthy smell of blood red earth. In my ears I will hear the gentle bells of sheep on a mountainside. And from my hand the palette of Mallorca will play out in my creative output, as the qualities of that great chapter of my life furnish me for the remainder of my story.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Mallorca My highlights – Part One: The First Year

A big move is in progress. The Daily Norm has one gelatinous leg in its new London home, and the other floating somewhere in transit as we await the delivery of all the possessions – and post importantly the computer – which makes writing of The Daily Norm a regular possibility. So excuses are sought from all readers for the temporary scarcity of posts. But at the same time, as any self respected blogger, I don’t want to lose this moment to reflect upon the magnitude of this change, nor to miss the opportunity to look back on my time in Mallorca. For two short years it may only have been, but those 27ish months provided a lifetime of unforgettable experiences for which I am so grateful.

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So in the next two posts, I plan to reflect back upon those two years, doing so by way of the medium of my photos which is surely the best way of reliving the memories. For the mere process of selecting these photos for part one of these posts – the first year of my Mallorca experience – demonstrated with such potency what an incredible time we had. The colours alone speak of a thousand moments, of all those sunsets and sunny days and spring flowers and autumn leaves. The incredible mountains and the craggy coast, the windmills and the sheep and the little shops of Palma’s Casco Antiguo. All goes in the mix as I reflect on my first of two years in Mallorca – two years which can be very easily labelled the best in my life. So far.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Sunset over my time in Mallorca

The sun has set, enriching the sky with its fiery strata, emboldening the clouds with shades of purple and gold like the toga of an enthroned Roman emperor. These photos, taken from the roof of my current building in the centre of Palma de Mallorca, capture one of the stunning sunsets which so often characterise the winter skies over this blissful Mediterranean island, and were taken in this, my last week in Mallorca. For after two and a quarter incredible years living on what can only be described as a paradise land, it is time to follow the path of the sun, as the light sets over my time in Mallorca.

Our decision to leave has been hard indeed, but conflicting priorities often make difficult decisions a necessity. We return now to the splendour of London, although when I consider that city, constantly regenerating, continuously improving, it feels like more of a new adventure than a “return” to a past left behind. Nothing now can take away from me the wealth of memories which have enriched our time on Mallorca, and island which has done more, visually, to inspire me than any other place in the world.

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So although this will be my last post written from this island (at least in my current period of residency!), further reflection upon Mallorca is inevitable and will cover the posts of this blog for weeks to come, I am sure. But in the meantime, I leave Mallorca with these very appropriate photos, which, like the island, demonstrate the incredible colours and wonderful, fleeting transience of Nature at its best.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

 

Inspired by my surroundings: Paseo Mallorca 4

Those who live on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca count themselves lucky. Winter temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees, and on days of winter sunshine, when its rays are trapped in a corner away from occasional breezes, you might think that you are living a continuous summer. And in the Paseo Mallorca, the treelined waterway which I currently call my home, the graceful beauty of cypress trees, palms and ancient Arabic city walls continues to inspire, no matter the season. This is never more so than at the close of day, when the drama of winter sunsets add a new element of grace to this verdant avenue.

Having now painted the Paseo Mallorca three times, including views of the bridge of Jaume III and up river towards my apartment I was recently struck with renewed enthusiasm by the angle I originally painted, looking southwards towards the sea and past the Es Baluard museum of art, but this time with the changes brought about by the atmospheric light of dusk. So having previously considered my Paseo Mallorca collection to be complete, I set about embellishing it with this further, darker enhancement, whose sky and light effects add something of a more realistic feel to a collection characterised by flattened colour panes.

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Paseo Mallorca 4 (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

It feels appropriate that I should be presenting this painting now, at the time of dusk, as the sun sets over my time in Mallorca. For all around me, my life in Mallorca is being packed away in boxes as I prepare to leave this paradise, and my beloved Paseo Mallorca, behind. This adventure is now at an end, and London is calling me back into its fold. But long shall the memories of Mallorca prevail in my heart, especially my time spent living on this most inspirational of streets.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Artist in Focus: Grant Wood

Two weeks over the Christmas period in London and Paris provided the perfect opportunity to play catch-up on some of the incredible exhibitions which have been popping up in both cities, and for which I have been pining from afar. Whether it be Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London or Bazille at the d’Orsay in Paris, I have been literally itching to get inside the galleries to discover artists both familiar and new, set within the context of a new curatorial manifestation. Out of these exhibitions, I walked away struck by certain paintings and by certain artists whose work I am keen to share on The Daily Norm. For life is a continuing learning curb, and even behind the most famous work lies an entire portfolio of unknown paintings coming from a relatively un-talked of artist.

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American Gothic, Grant Wood (1930)

This is the case with Grant Wood, who is far more famous for his emblematic 1930 painting, American Gothic, than he is for fame in his own name. Usually housed in the Art Institute of Chicago, which recognised the piece for its iconic depiction of life in the rural American midwest in the pre-Depression age and bought the work, American Gothic is one of the most iconic paintings of the 20th Century, and is currently making its first European visit. For me, it was clearly the highlight of the exhibition currently running at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, American Painting in the 1930s (although I gather that the work, and the show built around it, will soon make its way to London’s Royal Academy too).

Highlights of Grant Wood’s oeuvre

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Young Corn (1931)

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Parson Weem’s Fable (1939)

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Spring in the Country (1941)

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The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover (1931)

However, having swooned over my first face-to-face encounter with this iconic work and taken note of the name of its artist, what I wasn’t expecting was to find how prolific an artist lay behind the painting. For as we made our way around the exhibition, exploring its historically captivating theme of art before, during and immediately after the great American Depression, the name Grant Wood kept on popping up under all of the paintings to which I was instantaneously attracted upon entering each exhibition space.

Born in 1891 and painting until his death in the 40s, Wood’s early work shows the clear influence of impressionism and post-impressionism with more hesitant lines and a play on depicting realistic light. However, by the time he reached the 1930s, the artist had fallen upon a truly unique form of naive reality, depicting in beautifully bold colours and sharp, well rounded lines and figurative forms, the rolling rural landscape around his Cedar Rapids home.

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Death on the Ridge Road (1935)

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Fall Plowing (1931)

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The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931)

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Stone City Iowa (1930)

Without a doubt, my favourites of his works are his exquisite landscapes, painted so idyllically as to be charged with a kind of fantasy-land quality, albeit recognising in their carefully executed details the depiction of agriculture and industry. Reducing trees into rounded, wooly forms, and using idealised shadow to round-off the land like the  voluptuous flesh of a Rubens nude, these landscapes are pure works of genius, and why the artist Grant Wood will now remain lodged in my artist consciousness for all time.

A Portrait of Mallorca

Sometimes I just want to paint what’s on my mind. The energetic fusion of ideas applied to canvas in a mixed and multifarious revolution of form and colour. But unlike the Expressionist movement, which tended to splash and splosh their emotion onto canvas in more of a literal application of paint, my variety of expressionism materialises in more of a controlled fashion. I suppose it says something about my rather controlling mind (a tendency for which my partner may testify). For my wildest form of expression is something more cubist in nature. I have always been enchanted by the age of the cubists. The ability to show an object or a subject on multidimensional planes has always filled me with an ultimate sense of pictorial satisfaction. And while my cubism is less a single subject and rather more a mixed bag of ideas, it definitely belongs to the genre.

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Portrait of Mallorca (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

This cubist work, which also belongs to my interpretative abstract way of thinking, is the latest canvas to hop off my easel and says everything and anything about the island on which I have spent the last two happy years of my life. It is for me a true portrait of Mallorca, because beyond the tacky tourism for which the island is so unfortunately infamous, the island is one of true bucolic peasant culture, with its own cuisine and characterised by a stunning mixed mountainous and coastal landscape. All this is represented in the imagery packed into this “portrait” which includes the spiralled ensaimada pastry for which the island is famous, the lacey headdress and straw hat worn by the traditional peasant women, as well as their flowing striped skirts flapping in the Mediterranean breeze. There too are the mountains and the beaches, the glittering coast and the yachts which encircle the island like moths around a light source. And of course the sails of the windmills, which likewise characterise the lower lying stretches of countryside.

It is a painting which fully encapsulates the multifaceted personality of an island which is much, much more than Magaluf.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Mallorca Moments: Autumn Skies

There are many who bemoan the onset of autumn, especially those who miss the balmy long light days of summer. But while the summer may provide days of endless sunshine, in the Mediterranean, their clear blue skies are repetitive, no matter how beautiful. Come autumn however, and within the array of the season is a blockbuster of show-stopping sky spectacles. Whether it be by sunrise or sunset, the interplay between cloud and sunlight makes for the most incredible harmonious duet, casting the skies with a panoply of vividly rich colours, from primrose yellow through to a deep blood-rose red.

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The photos on today’s Daily Norm post are just a few of those I have snapped when I have been lucky enough to capture the light of the sun here in Palma, both at the beginning and at the end of the day. For as any photographer will know, these light effects are brief and ephemeral… and more often than not, I have a camera nowhere near me when the very best skies are on show. And how I kick myself at that moment. But with this set, I have at least captured some of the rich tones of the Autumn skies. And as the season has only really just begun, I cannot wait to see more.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at http://www.delacybrown.com

Inspired by my surroundings: Paseo Mallorca 3

The Paseo Mallorca, a stretch of treelined river in Palma, continues to inspire. I am lucky enough to live on this panorama of green which acts like the lungs of a city already awash with the air of the Mediterranean. It is, if you like, the perfect gateway to the sea from the city sprawl built up alongside it, since a stroll along this tree-lined avenue will take you directly down to the city’s magnificent port.

I set about painting this stretch of urban utopia a few months ago, starting with the bridge closest to the Es Baluard museum of art, and moving onto the bridge of Jaume III and the magnificent post-modern stretch of residential buildings beyond. In this third addition to the collection, I move further up the river, to the area where I live. Here the bridges are simplified but the greenery is all the more stunning. The colour palette is carefully chosen to represent the humid warmth of the season (I started the work on the painting in July), and also to perfectly partner the first painting in this group. For me it captures the essence of this happy, leafy suburbia which I am lucky enough to call home.

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Paseo Mallorca 3 (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com