Friday, 24 April 2009

Friday, 17 April 2009

Rob Miller. A Sketching journey from Casares via Ronda to Coin.

Last month I wrote about the first time I picked up my art pack and journeyed into the Andalusian outback. Since that time I have ventured further on numerous occasions, each time with the same sense of excitement and with new lessons learnt. Experience tells that so much valuable time can be wasted by going to a place to paint at the wrong time of day or frustratingly missing the interesting view or event by a street, an hour or a thicket of trees. So as with everything, when going out to undertake a complete art work it is always best to have an initial idea or sketch to seek out and focus on what you want to do. Especially in the Iberian Peninsula where the “traveller must undergo a certain acclimating process of mind as well as body” or so Junius Browne the American traveller wrote in 1870 in his article 'Sketches of Spain'. This short article is about a journey I made. There is some advice on sketching, along with the shortened version of the written notes I made as well as some of the sketches.

Within the artists' repertoire sketching is best seen as an immediate exercise, limited by time, location, materials and the discomfort of the elements, sun, wind, rain, dogs, cramp, snakes, cattle and mosquitoes. As a word of advice I think it best to give yourself a time limit say between two and twenty minutes for each sketch. In this time space you should be able to mentally note the essence of what you can see and feel, consider it and then shrink it by mark making or drawing onto the surface of a piece of paper. As I am primarily an artist who is attracted to landscapes. Sketching is the best way to visualize and feel how the landscape that I see is shaped and marked by natural forces, and by living beings. I like to travel a reasonable distance to experience this at first hand so that the form of the land or a 3D image of it is fixed in my mind. As the geology and geography of Andalucía is one of the most complex in Europe. I decided that a drive would be the best way to experience form and that this should be interspersed with short 2 kilometre walks whatever the weather so that I could feel Andalucía’s energy. I also wanted to record the natural, animal and manmade features that are drawn by hooves, bulldozers or feet, naturally and daily onto the surface of the land. Leaving early and returning late whilst the sun was low would affect the way the light fell, so helping me assess topographical features made by the marks of shadows. I took with me a number of different sized sketch books with some pre stretched paper, as well as some smaller canvasses Charcoal, graphite sticks, ink, watercolours and acrylics. Having had an interesting moment when I was surrounded by a pack of wild dogs last month I now take a good metal walking stick.
My first route was to be from Casares to Coin via Ronda. Starting at Casares Bahai in the remnants of a eucalyptus woodland, the road wound its way North West past semi derelict modern and old buildings. As you climb up a steepening, striated red ridge split by deep green gorges you become familiar with the marks of man. The bloody site of a civil war struggle hidden in a steep brown arroyo, further on into white Casares itself are the marks of the Moors, a tan castle drawn over in white by conquering Christians. Amazing engineering feats over centuries by artisans still building simple, square, box structures on very steep angular slopes. Surrounding all this is a mix of farmland laced in a web of endless lines made by goats and sheep and decorated with trees. Just across the main Utrera ridge and turning North East the tarmac scrapes along next to the ragged, bleached, ridge of the Sierra Crestelinni. Above a huge flock of vultures draw spirals in the clouds. To the left purple ridges stretched into the suns haze washed across the deep Genal valley, this scene masked in places by splatters of blue grey rain. Ahead was Gaucin a white slash nearly 700 metres high, dramatic under a billow of cloud, with its own ancient sienna castle, cave paintings and narrow streets. In between Gaucin and ourselves our route dipped steeply into the deep green, lush gorge of the fast flowing Genal river. The scribbled way becomes steeper and the scenery more mountainous at Gaucin, Here there are less marks made by man and animals. The earth has marked itself, being deeply scratched and sgraffito’d along a white karst ridge. Small boxy villages, limpet themselves to the slopes between the rocks and the forest. Finally on reaching the high plateau the climax of Serranía Ronda’s lush pale green and ochre agricultural plain is reached. The ancient white and tawny town itself is beautiful and very paintable from all but one side. Having circumnavigated Ronda by car and foot I followed the warm road to Coin whose line flows straight past alternating, rectangular, cultivated fields to the lumpy, pale massif of the Sierra Nieve. Here all you’ll experience is space before the line of black in front of you snakes its way alongside the tumbled mountainside textured with flat meadows. The atmosphere is warm and dry and up above the sky is a liquid azure shimmer. The way then succumbs to gravity and slides down a long broad, scrumbled, slope crazily at first to the Moors settlement of El Burgo and then in great sweeps though an ancient manmade landscape past the tan coloured walls of Alozaina and thence to white Coin. All the way are the tracks of goats and sheep blurring and scratching the form of dry land.

All in all it was an amazing mountain drive, brim full of great landscapes, wonderful and visible culture and interesting and diverse flora and fauna. I will be organising in July a series of sketching trip workshops and opportunities along this route and a similar route to Grazalema. and San Roque. My work can be seen by appointment and also at the International art fair in Marbella this June.
Tel +34 689 33 7071 "

"Rob Miller is a British Landscape and seascape artist, a colourist, who studied art at the University of Bolton; Rob's work captures a moment or a situation. The movement of light; a mood caused by weather; the simple pattern of nature; the situation of a building or the marks made by animals or humans on the land. He looks at these and then creates on canvas or paper a sense of place; so that the viewer can still recognise what they see and yet examine it through a new creative perspective. Rob works in both his studio and on location the meadow, the high mountain, the urbanisation, the riverside or the sea he works in oils, acrylics, watercolour and mixed media. "

Phil Harwood. ascot studios

Monday, 13 April 2009

Restaurant Artwork Preview Costa Del Sol

Sea state rough 100 x 100 cm and two cork oak paintings black on white canvas
on the main restaurant wall.
April 13th, 2009 until April 28th 2009
Restaurante Gemalas C/ Jacinto Benevente,
Fuengirola, Malaga, Espania.

Special thanks to the Swedish artist
Margit Bjorklund

Saturday, 11 April 2009

From Coin to Ronda, Approaching Seirra Nieve Plateau

On the left of the road, under the watchful eye of the higher white Seirra, warm fields lie scattered forming a patchwork of deep browns and reds interspersed with olive groves and other woods. Aside from the worn marks of centuries of sun and wind the tracks of animals show a grazing pattern whose highways are as timeless as the passing clouds.

From Coin to Ronda, Olive tree at El Burgo

Approaching the flat plateau a single old Olive tree dominates the road side. Lesser trees take shelter or huddle by the bright Spanish farms. This guy is however seemingly untouched by the harsh conditions nor the prevailing wind.

From Casares to Ronda, Algatocin White Village.

High above the Rio Gedal underneath the karst mountainside the white village Algatocin clings to the stony slopes. Blue green forests stretch away in a violet haze. Today the wind is cold.

Mixed media drawing on paper
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