Over the last 6 months I've been working towards my upcoming exhibition; 'New paintings of the Lake District' so I've spent quite some time up there, looking for new and interesting things to paint. 

There's certainly no shortage of subjects in the Lakes. The suns height, direction and intensity changes the landscape entirely from hour to hour. Add other conditions into the mix like like wet surfaces, rising vapour, clouds and seasons and the variations become almost infinite.

Despite this, in the past I've often come back from trips empty handed. For me, lots of variables need to combine successfully to make a good subject so it doesn't take much to spoil it. With sudden and complete cloud cover being the most common offender, it's easy to be in the right place at the wrong time! 

To go out with any pre-conceived idea of what I'm looking for only adds to the frustration. Much better I find to head out with an open mind and be open to anything that grabs me! It might be a spectacular vista from the top of a mountain or it might be a rusty farm gate! It's a chance, often fleeting combination of elements. Consequently, finding subjects can be an unpredictable, almost random exercise.  

For this reason, I've recently taken to my bike. The ground covered in a day on a bike is incomparable to being on foot. When the sun dips down and I'm suddenly left in a totally shaded valley, I can quickly move to where things are more interesting. I can explore much wider areas on a bike, sometimes returning again later when the light's changed. This also helps me feel like I've got to know a place. It simply increases the probability of finding what I'm looking for.

I've employed the same tactic on trips to New York, (exploring back streets in Harlem and the Bronx feels a lot safer on a bike) and in San Francisco (wow those hills are hard work!). In both cases, I felt like I'd got underneath the skin of the place.

In terms of miles covered, this exhibition must be right up there in the rankings! 

'New paintings of the Lake District' starts Friday 28th November at the Mill House Gallery