The picture is a painting of waves breaking over giant's causeway  on Northern Ireland's Antrim coast 
		The pictuere exhibits influences from Altdorfer, Leonardo da Vinci, and hokusai.

Waves breaking over Giant's Causeway, 1998, watercolour with bodycolour, 25 x 20 cm

Not long ago one of my visitors asked me why I painted this picture. Here is a slightly edited version of my reply.

For the third or fourth time in my life I have been trying to make a living solely from the sale of my pictures and these seemed like a good subject that people might like to buy. And so it has turned out to be. I have sold quite a few prints of these pictures.

At the time I was working on Giant's Causeway I was reading a most excellent book Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape by Christopher S. Wood - the price seems to have gone up by a massive amount since this book was given to me as a present.

Many of Altdorfer's paintings are on the web. His Battle of Alexander - is just wonderful.

You'll see on my website a rather poor copy of his sky at and there are elements of it in the celtic cross you'll find there.

Anyway I started exploring some of the ideas there (I was already studying the drawings of the masters especially Leonardo and Brueghel) and one of these was the idea of learning how to draw things, e.g. you'd learn how to draw a tree and thereafter you could put trees into a picture wherever you wanted them - Wood (nominative determinism eat your heart out) argues that Altdorfer was party to a major argument going on at the time between those like Durer who advocated total fidelity to Nature and those who advocated the old ways - viz of learning how to draw particular objects and thereafter being able to place them wherever you wanted to in your composition.

I suspect I have oversimplified somewhat. But Durer in my view leads to the glories of impressionism, expressionism, perhaps Picasso and Matisse, then Tracy's unmade bed and possibly the proliferation of installation art video which I largely hate (installations and video both) - its not that there is no more to be done in this line of development but simply that it has gone a bit stale - I blame post modernist criticism and the tick box funding methods of the arts council among others. But never slag anyone who can make a living at this game. It is not the artist's fault but the funders.

Anyway, the other route - that of Altdorfer is quite interesting because to know how to draw something from out of your own head you need to know how it works or at the very least have learnt what others have managed to work out. And in the case of the causeway this thing was water - the movement and motion of water - have a look at some of Leonardo's drawings of floods etc - you can see him trying to work out the dynamics, its great.

In my view the Altdorfer route also gives rise to Picasso and Matisse (via the African sculpture and the notion of capturing essences) but also to Persian miniatures - and we must not forget that the Altdorfer path never really died out - it is there in the work of illustrators. For what its worth, my view is that knowing how to draw particular types of things so you can create them out of your head is a wonderful thing and gives great freedom, e.g knowing how to draw the human form is great, as is knowing how to draw horses etc. Great freedom and just opens up the whole world.

So there you have it, the causeway pictures are much to do with learing how to draw moving water. I spent quite a time looking at it and trying to work out what was happening.

Why Hokusai? - well he painted a famous picture/print, called the wave and that uses highly symbolic notation to denote the foam on the wave's crest.



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Page last modified: 17:56 Monday 13th. May 2013