The landscape of the Lake District has inspired artists for hundreds of years. From Turner to Ruskin, many have been awed into capturing the towering mountains, the glittering lakes, and the lush greenery that is to be found across the National Park. And that still hasn't changed. There are a huge number of fabulous artists across Cumbria who each capture the region in their own unique way. In this week's guest blog, we speak to Maria Burton about her work and journey as an artist.
A Second Chance
Maria Burton turned to painting wholeheartedly in 2014 after treatment for breast cancer led to her taking early retirement from her job as a P. E. teacher in Penrith and as a tutor of photography. She needed to mark this second chance with something significant and she needed a new way of earning to cover the bills!
Her new ‘office’ is, in the main, the eternally wonderful and wild landscapes of Cumbria, Northumberland, West Scotland and, occasionally, the south east coast. At times, Maria studies still life and, whilst she enjoys the challenge of making an apple look exciting, it is the changing weather and the effects on the fells and lands that fully captures her spirit.
Through Wind and Hail
Often sketching on location, rain smudging the marks or cold hands creating vague lines, Maria observes constantly and embeds the feeling of 'being there' in her paintings. Witnessing the transitions between light, mood and atmosphere helps create artwork that really draws you in.
Guided more by the feel of a place than the exact outlines of a specific fell, Maria's work is usually influenced by memory, moment and energy. However, she usually does have a reference shot, just in case! After all, there does have to be a significant point of recognition of the location to fully convey the sense of being in that very place. A reference photo also helps on the wettest days. Recently, high above Grasmere, the camera served to capture two moments before the curtain of hail drove her and her walking partner to hunker down in waterproofs and hats.
Taking A Chance
Having dabbled with a paintbrush on and off for a few years prior to 2012, Maria initially gave herself the year of 2014 to see if she had enough drive to chase a dream of becoming a great painter.
She has since trained and worked hard through short courses under various tutors at the Glasgow School of Art, Higham Hall and, for the duration of 2017, under Martin Kinnear at the Norfolk Painting School. In 2019, Maria began a year long drawing course at Leith School of Art, Edinburgh. Having started from a base of little to no drawing talent a decade ago, she is completely convinced that drawing (and painting) can be learned. She knows that she had no gift for these things but that she might now have developed one! In the words of a stranger she once held conversation with, “Okay, maybe no gift for drawing but you do have a gift: it's your determination!”
Maria now knows that almost all artists only become great through sheer dedication to their goal and hard work. It is, of course, true of most things!
Catching Constant Change
In May 2019, Maria published her first book, ‘Catching Constant Change’. It's a book not only for walkers and lovers of land and sea scapes, but for anyone wishing to gain a small insight into how paintings are inspired and then produced. The collection of paintings includes some of the most remarkable places in the UK as well of those featuring wildlife, particularly birds. It's an area Maria hopes to develop in the future.
For her, painting is about a connection and an expression. The work is personal, borne of experience. It moves beyond the obvious and is something that she hopes the viewer will recognise in their own way.
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This is a guest blog written by Maria Burton of Maria Burton Art. Find out more and visit the online shop on her website.