26 July 2021

An Ode to the Past – How traditional art has influenced me

For centuries, artists have attempted to understand and capture the beauty of our world. Whether it be through the writings of a poem, the molding of clay, or a brush of paint across a canvas, as humans we have an innate desire to express ourselves.

This urge is manifest in the works of the greatest artists of all time. From the unique use of color, light, and brushwork found in Turner’s Romantic paintings, to the dramatic use of chiaroscuro used by the Dutch masters, the artists of our past have used their talents to capture their worldview. Their interpretation of the human condition is still valued today, with hundreds of thousands of people flocking to museums to view these masterpieces in person.

I certainly count myself amongst these, and frequently visit both the august national institutions and the small museums surrounding the place I grew up and continue to live. I still spend hours admiring the artwork, the skill and talent behind each of the pieces, and the way the artists are able to communicate to me. My admiration for certain works, together with my love of nature, spurred me to train as a painter myself. I wanted to use a paintbrush as my pen to explain the world around me as I saw it.

I spent my time learning my craft at Paul Ingbretson’s Studio in America and Charles Cecil Studio in Florence. To spend time in such Ateliers allowed me to inherit skills passed on from master to pupil, to stand upon the shoulders of giants and produce work indicative of the knowledge passed down through centuries.

As a lover of nature, I have always been most closely drawn to landscape painting. Admiring the beauty that England has to offer, I try to follow the footsteps of the great artists of the past – both literally and figuratively. As I walk by the Maidenhead Railway Bridge, I am reminded of Turner’s late masterpiece Rain, Steam, and Speed.  Or as I walk around Waterloo, a flash of Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, filled with cool colours, pops into my mind. Appreciating the past lends one a greater appreciation for the present.

While acknowledging and paying homage to the artists and traditions that influenced my work, I must also confront the daunting task of portraying something original and perhaps even unique. The best chance of achieving this is to immerse oneself in an environment unique to oneself and one’s background, history and memory. As such we project our subjective lenses onto an objective landscape.

I consider myself an impressionist painter in the sense that I paint the impression of the scene in front of me, capturing how the eye perceives the information from the world around me, my surroundings. In doing so, rather than copying what is in front of me, I translate the landscape into a personal vision based on the principles of Impressionism, focusing on abstract patterns of Colour and light to create an image which tells a new story of the present moment.

© Oliver Maughan. All Right Reserved. Copyright notice.
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