Arts

David Hockney: Inspiration in Isolation

Abi explores David Hockney’s latest series of artwork and how creating art can provide solace during the current global uncertainty.

As the sunny weather begins to fade and we (unwillingly) welcome the return of rain from gloomy skies, it seems appropriate to look back at British artist David Hockney’s message “Do Remember They Can’t Cancel the Spring” – the tile of this beautiful piece depicting daffodils against a pastel sky.  

Shared in mid-March and followed by nine other images (including one animation), these iPad drawings capture the unique array of colours we experience during the transition from winter to spring, long continuing throughout the season.

By investing my energy into this piece, I know I will forever look at this piece of nature in a new, more appreciative light

We can take respite not only in these drawings, but through also noticing  vibrant colours and the changing shapes of nature in our gardens and on our daily walks – something we previously might not have had the time to stop and appreciate. 

Currently in lockdown at his house in Normandy, Hockney planned to draw and paint the arrival of spring here long before the pandemic began, replicating a similar exhibition he did ten years ago in East Yorkshire, due to the array of trees and plants this would allow him to focus on.

As the virus spread however, he found the importance of drawing, rather than mediating objects through photography, more and more important. In this time of uncertainty, Hockney believes we can combat the stress stemming from worrying about the future by focusing on art as “art is now”, allowing us to be present in the moment.     

I have certainly taken solace in Hockney’s words, and produced an acrylic painting, depicting the rapeseed fields near my house. Initially inspired by my mum’s love for the bright colours of the fields, particularly the glimpses you catch of them on long motorway drives, the painting did serve as a welcome distraction, and has certainly changed and strengthened the importance of these fields in my mind.

By creating art we are left with products of our own unique take on the world, something we can look back on and appreciate

By investing my energy into this piece, I know I will forever look at this piece of nature in a new, more appreciative light – much like Hockney suggests happens when art and nature come together, as we are part of nature, and we produce art. 

Hockney is amongst the few who likes solitude and therefore is likely to be enjoying, and flourishing in isolation much more than many of us. It is important to remember, however, that isolation allows us to devote our time and attention to whatever we choose – and why shouldn’t it be art?

By creating art we are left with products of our own unique take on the world, something we can look back on and appreciate not just for what it is, but also for the work we put into it. Hockney’s passion for art resonates in a time like this where we long for a change of scenery; whilst we cannot do this, we can instead appreciate the way our immediate scenery changes itself through nature taking course. 

Nature further acts as a welcome subject of art to Hockney through the adventure it provides, as it is something not bound by human rules. To capture this, Hockney believes we must not rely on photographs, as this diminishes the rules of perspective, but instead use direct observation to encapsulate the freedom nature holds.

Embrace your inner artist during this time, as if not now, then when?

As the weather starts to turn sour, we should instead look to it as a welcome change to our palettes – a new artistic lens to look through. Here Hockney’s calming animation particularly holds place; although the clouds are grey, and the scene muted in tone compared to the other imagery, it is still captivating.

Following this I plan to produce accompanying pieces to my spring scene, honing in on the changing weather’s effect on the colours and structure of the fields. Embrace your inner artist during this time, as if not now, then when?

With a whole range of mediums available, including charcoal, pencil, a variety of paint, and even iPad apps, such as Hockney’s choice of Brushes, you are spoilt for choice. After all, Frida Kahlo herself found painting whilst in her lonely convalescence.

Abi Kara-Fernandes

Featured image courtesy of HannahWebb via Flickr. Article image 1 courtesy of HannahWebb via Flickr. Article image 2 courtesy of HannahWebb via Flickr. Article image 3 courtesy of Abi Kara-Fernandes. Image use license here. No changes made to the images. 

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