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David Hockney film "A Bigger Picture"
17 February 2012

In place of the listed Slide Show Brian Richardson showed us the film "A Bigger Picture".

This deals with David Hockney's return to Yorkshire in 2004 and his painting of the East Yorkshire landscape which forms the basis of the current exhibition at the Royal Academy.

The film covers the period up to 2008 and shows him working en plein air culminating in his fifty-canvas painting, "Bigger Trees at Warter", which he donated to the Royal Academy after its showing at the Summer Exhibition.

I hadn't been very much of a Hockney fan but I found this film fascinating. Following a long period painting in Hollywood he has now returned almost full time to Yorkshire. Working outdoors, mostly on pairs of 3ft x 4ft canvases, he faces all temperatures (heavy coat, scarf, green wellies and a friend to stop the canvas blowing away and to pass him paint and brushes).

He philosophizes at length, but most interestingly, about how painting should reflect what the artist feels and how this is affected by the environment (the state of technology and culture as well as the scene being painted) and the artist's intentions. It seemed significant to me how his initial opposition to using computers gradually changed. He said he could only integrate the massive "Bigger Trees at Warter" (much too big for a studio, let alone plein air painting) by having photos of the individual canvases fitted together so he could see a small version of its current state. Since then he has actually started painting directly on the computer with an touch-screen/pallet.

A couple of other points that struck me in the film were that:
he wanted to make the viewer feel part of the scene, not an outside observer looking through a window
he liked Chinese scroll paintings - much too long to see the whole work at once, forcing you to see it as a story with a clear beginning and end.

If you missed it you can buy it on Amazon or eBay for ten or twenty pounds - ask for it for your birthday!

Notes by Sam Dauncey

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