Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Visiting the Lake District—England

Image taken by me from Wray Castle of Windermere Lake

It is easy to see why the Lake District in England has been so inspirational for artists and poets through the ages. The hills and valleys accented by large sweeping clouds floating across blue skies cast a light and shade in dramatic splendor.

My main goal of visiting the Lake District was to see original illustrations by Beatrix Potter. Unlike most tourists, Hill Top would have been a bonus to see, but secondary to visiting the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead.

Beatrix Potter stayed here in 1882.

The original illustrations were stunning. Ms. Potter's subtly in painting and drawing can only be seen in the original form. Reproductions do not do her justice. I was impressed by her use of stippling and delicate line work. Some of the inking was dark brown and some black. The line work seemed to support the immediate focal point of the illustration rather then to cover all her pencils.

In a glass case at the beginning of the gallery housed in her husband's offices, we had the pleasure of seeing her watercolor palette set and an aborted illustration for The Fairy Caravan. This shows that she completed her sketch and then preceded to ink the drawing. You can see a slight smudge central in the illustration which is most likely the piece was aborted. The final un-smudged illustration was also represented in the exhibition.

At the end of examining and trying to commit to memory Ms. Potters original work, I purchased a beautiful and comprehensive book on her life and work. The main reason I jumped on the book was two notes on her colors and the mixing of them found inside an old wooden watercolor set of hers. It also had notes on palettes she recommended for beginning artists.

Below I have taken a few of her notes on greens and attempted to recreate them based on her notes for Wildflowers and Roses.

Some of the colors in her pallet I did not have exact, but I did have modern versions and I used some google-foo to find out more about them. Emerald Green for example was highly poisonous in that time. It was a color popular in the regency period and was used for wallpaper. Very hazardous I would say what with being made with arsenic. I am not sure what companies use now to make Emerald green but some still do.

My replacements are on the right
Emerald Green = Old Holland Scheveningen Green
Gamboge = Old Holland Gamboge Lake
Colbalt = Schmincke Colbalt
Prussian Blue = Old Holland Blue Deep
For Burnt Sienna and Indian Yellow I used Schmincke watercolors.

All in all it was an excellent trip that will most likely have a strong impact on anything I produce in the future. I would like to give C.E. a huge thanks for the opportunity and all the work she did on researching trains and the underground. And a huge thanks to my husband for encouraging me to go.

View on the other side of Wordsworth's gardens.

View from Rydal Mount.