Artist's Statement - Mike Stevenson

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 Studio 2Dark Peak, DerbyshireStudio 3 


          Anyone who pauses to look at the landscape of the British Isles will realise quickly that the rapid variations of   weather and light causes what we see to be constantly changing.  Areas of lightness and darkness interchange, and colours fluctuate in intensity.  Rarely is anything still.  Then, there are the subtler responses of hearing, smell and perhaps taste to consider.  There is our awareness that the land we see was here before we existed and will be here long after we are gone.  It has stimulated myths and figured in legends and stories.  It may have stimulated other poets, musicians, writers and artists to record their own responses.  It has probably rewarded, frustrated and perhaps even taken the lives of the hunters, farmers, miners, labourers and peddlers who walked here and worked the land before our time.  It evokes memories in us of other places and the people with whom we share our lives.  All these resonances and echoes are what I seek to portray in my work.  I try to evoke all these aspect of the landscape from which I started rather than make a topographical record of it.  I strive to look beyond the appearance of the land - to see its bones and inner organs – all the things we don’t immediately notice, but without which, any landscape remains just another view.  


            I am particularly interested in the quality of light and its effects on the landscape. I have no particular allegiance to any media.  I work in whatever seems appropriate to what I want to say or do.  I often mix  media to produce a specific effect. My work almost always starts with drawing something I can see, to record its shape, form, colour and tone.  I do not want to be constrained by attempts at photographic reality. Each finished work involves making many drawings, working towards  the final statement. These might range from tentative scribbles to detailed ‘finished’ drawings. Each drawing distils some visual element or intuitive response from the starting point. Most of the finished pieces are developed in the studio from the many scribbles,  drawings, watercolours and pastels that fill my sketchbooks. I visit Wales and the Peak District regularly  for inspiration. Finding the pattern, structural qualities and atmospheres of the landscape are as important as depicting what I observe. I am fascinated by the problems of recession and perspective - making an illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface remains for me a particular delight.

            In order to progress as an artist I need to understand how we see and interpret our world.  I need to understand the visual elements of line, shape, form, tone colour, etc., and know something about how I might use them.  I need to have some control over the media and techniques I use, and a knowlege of how they work.  I need to be aware of how other artists have resolved problems similar to those I confront.  My work is the process through which I try to deepen and enrich  my understanding of these issues. Like all artists, I continually teach myself about how I make my works. Each new work is something of a journey through ignorance towards an unknown destination. The successful work has its genesis when I manage to blend these understandings with my own intuitive response to the things I experience and make both manifest in the work..