Hello and a very warm welcome to The Snowdonia Project.
Last year, I took the decision to buy an old van and live in it for a year, with the intention of immersing myself fully into the countryside. The experience has been outstanding.
The van, a 33 year old Mercedes 508, was somewhat of a blank shell when she came into my possession, allowing me to design a new interior to suit my various needs. It has felt like a valuable and refreshing experience to turn my hand at areas such as woodwork, plumbing and electrics. I have had an incredible year of living relatively off -grid, and the time has now arrived for our final journey together.
In October 2013, I plan to travel to Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia, to capture through a series of paintings, films and photographs the arrival of autumn in the mountains, rivers and woodlands of North Wales.
Over the course of forty days, I plan to head out into the landscape with a camera, tripod, sketchbook, easel and painting equipment, to find and capture scenes of this stunning location. It is my intention to ensure that this project is as much about sharing the experience of my journey to North Wales, as it is about capturing and sharing my creative processes and artistic results.
Betws-y-Coed and the surrounding area, is a place of outstanding natural beauty and by mid-October it will have exploded into a stunning array of colours and textures, illuminating the local landscape in fusions of yellows, oranges, reds and browns, before eventually giving way again to the inevitable return and bleakness of winter.
All of my landscape paintings to date, have predominantly used various hues of green. The chance to work with other colours in conjunction with the aspect of reflection, is one of the main aspects about this opportunity, that has me really excited about the potential for this project.
Using my van as a mobile art studio, I plan to document the transition of the last evidence of summer to the early months of winter. I will use local campsites as a base from which to work, as they will afford me access to a source of fresh water and electricity - as well as allowing me to charge up my leisure batteries and head off into the wilds to search for new locations and subject matter.
While I will still be focused on capturing the light, colour, contrast and reflections in my paintings, I will also use this opportunity to study the movement and character of objects within the landscape and to integrate these expressions into the paintings by using subtle but different brush techniques.
Each of the paintings that you see below have a number of these techniques within them and given the opportunity to realise this project, I will be looking to develop them further. As my time in North Wales is relatively limited, I will have to use what time I have to lay down the fundamental compositions and to capture the colours. The details and style of the paintings will be dealt with in the second phase of this project when I return from the trip. In terms of the time-lapse photography aspect of this project, this obviously means that there will be a Part1 and a Part2 to those sequences.
I have been planning to move away from such detailed compositions (such as the style at the bottom of the painting below) for a while now, as they are far too time consuming and as I am now committed to painting landscapes as a livelihood, it is necessary to recognise that I must aim to complete a predetermined quota of canvases within a month. In other words this project will force me to work in a more fluid, organic and impressionistic manor.
Glades and shady woodlands are my favourite subjects to paint. The complexity of the branches and the shards of light that break through the tree canopies, I feel always lend a sense of energy to the paintings and it's this energy that I will be looking to find and share on my journey.
The painting below illustrates the type of style that I would like to develop further. The leaves at the top of the painting give a gentle nod towards the abstract, yet at the same time seem to convey a sense of movement.
Last winter, as soon as the snow arrived, I decided to head out into the local fields with my rather battered second hand camera and spend a day photographing the landscape. But what happened in fact, was that I ended up filming it instead and over the course of the weekend, I had collected enough shots to make a short film. The result was entitled 'A Walk on the White Side' and was accompanied by the song 'Under your Spell' by Dan Arborise.
This experience made me realise a number of things.1) How much I really love spending time in the countryside, and 2) That with a better camera, tripod and a few more creative excursions, I would be able to create a visual experience of how my landscape paintings develop. It wasn't long before the idea for the Snowdonia Project began to form...
Having bought a new camera for the trip (the new Panasonic FZ200 bridge camera) the results of my most recent film projects have been recognisably improved and a great deal more satisfying. The Snowdonia Project's video contains a mixture of footage from both the new and the old cameras, and while the differences may appear subtle (and perhaps not immediately apparent) they are significant.
The shots taken with the FZ200 have greatly improved colour, depth of field and clarity to them and with a constant fixed aperture of F2.8 the pictures hold their detail well, even at full zoom. Finally, the FZ200 also has the ability to shoot video at 200 frames per second, resulting in stunning slow motion sequences.
During the period that this project is in its pledge phase, I shall be using that time to prepare and get to grips with the other features that the FZ200 has to its credit, meaning that once I arrive in North Wales I should be able to deliver some beautiful shots of the local environment.
THE SNOWDONIA PROJECT VIDEO - OUTTAKES
Up until the point of my introduction to Kickstarter, the process of creating my short films had been largely spontaneous and organic. But with a goal of aspiring to raise funding for this project, I felt that this time, it would be necessary to write a script. The experience was exasperating, but also invaluable.
I came to understand about the necessity of structuring a script, the way that the dialogue drives the content, and how that filming does not always go to plan!! More importantly, the experience reinforced in me the importance of perseverance and in maintaining a sense of humour.
So, while I have recently invested in most of the equipment needed to capture and record this journey, I need your help in raising the funds to cover some of the costs of travel, accommodation, for the production and shipping the pledge rewards and for the materials required; such as the paints, brushes, mediums and canvases.
For those of you that lend your support to this project, you will be able to:
- Watch and experience the journey through the weekly short films I will produce.
- Follow the development of my paintings by way of time-lapse photography.
- Access to The Snowdonia Project Blog where I will share my thoughts and media.
- View the 360 degree videos and photos that I capture using a Bubblescope.
Should the project be fortunate enough to gain enough support so as to exceed the funding target, the surplus will go towards the renting of a studio, as well as to provide funding for the organisation of the exhibition.
Once the journey has drawn to its conclusion, I will continue to work on the paintings for a few more months (note: in the project video I stated one month) in order to apply the finishing touches and final glazes, as well as allowing the oils time to dry, before holding an exhibition in early 2014.
The exhibition will also showcase a number of other sideline projects that I have been working on, such as my Spectrum Lignum series, as well as a collection of prints from my time in North Wales.
My long term goal is to find a permanent studio from which I will continue to develop my work as a contemporary landscape artist.
The Snowdonia Project is as much a challenge, as it is an experience. Should you choose to participate, I am confident that you will find the journey over the next couple of months both engaging and inspiring.
So in conclusion, I would like to thank you for taking the time to consider my Kickstarter project and I hope that you will follow me on this adventure, by making a pledge that you feel aptly reflects your enthusiasm for the project.
Risks and challenges
The weather in the UK and in Wales in particular is unpredictable. I have been in touch with the Tourist board for North Wales and they have reassured me that all the trees will be in their fullest splendour by the third week of October. So that's a relief...
Even though the old style Mercedes trucks are renowned for having bomb proof engines that run for years, I have to concede the possibility that something may go wrong. However, this could be said of any vehicle.
On the journey there may be areas where I stay where I am unable to get a mobile signal, making it temporarily impossible to upload updates of my progress.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)