OUR Picture of the Week normally focuses on artists inspired by the Chilterns landscape, but just occasionally it’s good to venture a little further afield.
Maybe lockdown restrictions make us only more aware of the vistas that we’re not allowed to visit for the moment, like the mountains, lakes, seaside and dales of the Lake District.
And no one captures those landscapes in quite such vibrant and vivid colour as our guest artist this week, Mark A Pearce, a painter and printmaker brought up in Cumbria.
Mark pursued a successful career in London as an award-winning graphic designer and co-founded a design consultancy in the 1990s, which by the time it was bought had more than 30 employees around the world and had been involved in a number of famous brand overhauls.
Now 64, he returned to the Lake District in 2006, where he now works from a home studio with panoramic views over the Ravenglass estuary and Lakeland fells, producing a range of oils, watercolours, pastels, and limited-edition reduction wood and linocuts (like our featured picture choice, above).
It’s an extraordinary landscape where the mountains almost reach the shore and three rivers meet to form a perfect estuary, allowing Mark freedom to explore his excitement in the light effects, striking compositions and eye-catching colour combinations that are literally on his doorstep.
“In this beautiful part of the lakes it’s the skies, colours and the effect of the changing light on the water, sky and mountains that are particularly inspiring,” he says.
He always goes out with a camera so he can capture what is about him in real time and take it back to the studio to get it down on paper to share his wonder in the natural world.
“I get outside whenever the weather and work allow, and often spend an entire day walking out on the fells alone with the camera,” he says. “It always lifts my mood.”
His galleries range from original reduction linocuts like Autumn Migration to fine-art prints and original oils.
While some landscapes look reassuringly familiar to Chilterns residents, others are strikingly different views of mountains and coastline, often featuring wildfowl in flight, like those at St Bees Head, the county’s most westerly point, where the RSPB has a reserve.
His home studio was set up in 2010 with his sister and business partner Sarah Bell, who helps to promote and market his work, both locally and further afield.
He says he rediscovered his own love of creating art partly due to necessity and having to earn a living, and partly his desire to be able to share with other people his view of the natural world in terms of colour, light and composition.
His interest now lies particularly with the format of lino and woodcuts due to their graphic nature. But if his linocuts are attention-grabbing in their use of colour, his oils are equally interesting, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of a family beach walk, spring riverbank, pine forest or rocky outcrop.
“I absolutely loved living in London: the energy, the culture and the night life,” says Mark. “Although I don’t miss the stress of the constant deadlines or the staying up till 3am to get a client’s brief finished, I couldn’t do that now.
“Having no distractions here gives me time to think and create. I paint/print what I see, out of the window, on the beach or on the fells. I feel inspired to capture that moment so I can share my excitement of the effects of the light and shadows in the landscape.”
Visit Mark’s website for details of forthcoming events and exhibitions, opening times of the Estuary Views Tea Room & Gallery in Rosegarth, Ravenglass and details of his online shop.