Land, Sea and Sky – majestic coastal paintings by Steven Hood at the Dundas Street, Gallery, Edinburgh
It is not only this sense of place but the uniqueness of experience at a specific moment in time. These new paintings offer a kind of permanence to that experience, to what was observed and more importantly for what was felt. Steven Hood
Steven Hood studied drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art (1985-89) and has enjoyed a prestigious career with regular solo exhibitions at private galleries, and amongst numerous others, at the Society of Scottish Artists, Noble Grossart Award and the Royal Scottish Academy.
Living and working in the Edinburgh, the foreshore around Granton has been a favourite stomping ground since childhood. With such a close affinity to the iconic views over Firth of Forth, here is a magnificent, moody seascape, ‘Haar over Cramond Island.’
For those who don’t know the word, Haar: noun – a cold sea mist off the North Sea. Just a vague glimpse of the distant island can be seen through a hazy light struggling to break through the mass of greyness.
The fine perspective in ‘Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island’ leads the eye from the grassy sandy cover, rocks and lapping waves to the slither of an island lost in the fog on the horizon. These two mesmerising scenes, enveloped in a semi opaque, soft light, convey the chilly, swirling haar, with such delicate atmospheric quality.
Following in the brushstrokes of the pioneering Impressionists, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh et al, Steven Hood likes to paint natural landscapes outside “en plein air,” for a personal, direct response to swiftly changing light and weather.
A recent trip to the Aberdeenshire coastline shows he is a master at capturing the movement and patterning of clouds. Like the artist, in “Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay,” near Gardenstown, we too stand on the beach under a wide shimmering sky in the rosy dusk.
Van Gogh was fascinated by wheat fields, painted again and again with cypress trees, reaper or birds. Hood also depicts the glorious golden harvest, the tall stalks bent over in the sea breeze in “Cliff Top Wheat Fields, Aberdeenshire.” The blocks of bold colour are most effective.
Observing the light over the seashore at the end of the day is very much a recurring theme, such as the ambient detail in “Setting Sun, the Mouth of the River Almond.” The dark waves and grey rain clouds contrast with a glimmer of pink rays casting a faint glint on the water.
Most inspiring is a duet of sunsets, “snapped” quickly over a few minutes on 26th June, looking over to Fife. This is all part of his aim to seize the likeness of a place at a specific moment, akin to a painterly photograph.
A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone.
― John Steinbeck, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’
Turner created hundreds of sketches and paintings of different weather conditions, especially clouds and rain such as “Beach, English coast” (1835).
With similar powerful abstract expression, “Rain Clouds over Inchkeith Island,” the slanting, lashing downfall dramatically evoked with a flurry of thick, brash, brushstrokes.
Art is more than a visual response, and Steven Hood clearly conveys the enriching emotional experience, a real sense of place.
These paintings are even more powerful when viewed in the gallery and this is a great space to stand back and observe the wild natural beauty of the Scottish coastline. They recall so poignantly the sentiment of Masefield’s poem, “I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky.”
Land, Sea and Sky – Steven Hood
Saturday 10th October to Wednesday 14th October 2020
10.30am – 5.30pm
Dundas Street Gallery. 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Social distancing measures will allow for 6 people in the gallery at any given time. Masks must be worn and hand sanitiser will be provided.
Visit the website to view the exhibition www.stevenhoodartist.com