Many artists use lots of colour painting the Yorkshire Dales, but there is only one company that is producing the colour itself, right here, with raw materials actually sourced in the north of England.
An exciting venture of art material manufacture based near Settle, North Yorkshire, is establishing a growing regional, national and international reputation and Ilkley artist Lucia Smith set out to find out why.
Pip Seymour and Rebecca Wallace formed Pip Seymour Fine Art Products in 2011, returning to their native Yorkshire to do so. With 20 years of experience in art material manufacturing, and both artists themselves, they had a unique vision: to produce art materials with natural raw materials, traditional methods and the finest contemporary practices.
‘After years in London, I came back to Yorkshire with Rebecca’ explained Pip, ‘living in the Dales reinforces our decision to use natural resources available locally wherever possible – it is very inspiring when we find earth deposits that can be used from the landscape’.
Some of the products offered by the company span centuries of practice; ancient drawing materials are found, tested, and bottled. As we might expect, chalks and slates are sourced by Pip and Rebecca from Tuscany, Germany and Spain; surprisingly products are also sourced from local quarries and mines. The company have developed good rapport with sites around the region, such as Honister Slate Mine in Cumbria where materials are used by Pip which would otherwise go to landfill, making oils, watercolours, acrylics and soft pastel.
Many locals and visitors to Yorkshire will be familiar with Hardraw Force in Wensleydale – with co-operation of the site owner, mudstones from the famous Scaur at Hardraw are collected once a year and processed into pigment.
You have to know what you’re looking for and how to use it to get consistent results. Lucia is used to a little experimentation in her soft pastel landscapes : ‘I enjoy trying innovative products, new colours and combinations of soft pastels’ she says ‘but when in the flow of a large painting I require products I can rely on, so I’m happy to let Pip and Rebecca work out how to bring their naturally based products to that level. The company have carefully developed their ranges over the last few years as they seek and respond to artist feedback, and I think they are now achieving their aim: offering us high quality materials, with natural pigments, maximising the artist’s potential of expression through colour.’
Ilkley Art Show are delighted that Pip and Rebecca will be on hand during the August show to present their full range of art materials; their handmade soft pastel range will also be put into practice via some great Yorkshire synergy: the energetic and enthusiastic art teacher from North Yorkshire, Robert Dutton, will be using the Yorkshire-made pastels throughout his Saturday afternoon workshop.
Lucia sums it up: ‘Yorkshire moors to inspire us, Yorkshire artists to teach us, and art materials made and sourced from earth deposits all around us – what a fabulous fusion. And all offered on our doorstep in Ilkley. That has to be impressive.’
GETTING GOING WITH MOOR ART
Artist Robert Dutton
If you see an artist working outside with their easel or sketch book, are you tempted to look over their shoulder to take a peek? It is a natural curiosity to want to watch an artist at work – and more so when we can share the view that is inspiring them.
Robert Dutton is well used to onlookers, working outside in the Yorkshire Moors in all weathers. His multimedia approaches are fascinating and inspiring, and he is skilled at sharing his approaches with others. He recommends starting outdoors, immersing yourself in the wild uninhabited spaces and moors to experience at first hand the living elements: “I feel I can only really get close to my subject by initially painting directly in front of it. I need to put myself in the viewers’ shoes so that they can read my thoughts and understand why I chose to paint the picture in the first place.’
With his expressive, award winning work in public, private and corporate collections throughout the UK and abroad, it is exciting that Robert will be in Ilkley this Summer.
He already knows our moor well, enjoying walking a couple of miles or so beyond
the ‘usual’ footpaths to wilder expanses of less frequented moorland – areas that he
favours, where the sound of wind and the Curlew accompany him as he works: ‘The textures, colours, shapes and form in the landscape of Rombalds Moor are magical.’
Knowledge of your media, what it can do and how best to handle it are critical factors in success, and Robert is an expert with acrylic paints and enjoys their fast drying properties. His style is energetic and expressive so waiting for paint to dry does not suit his technique at all!
Robert has also won much acclaim and prestigious awards for his soft pastel work created with their immediacy of application. Often using charcoal for initial drawing, he fuses the different qualities of the materials together in an intuitive and almost lyrical way with great fluidity.
Choice of medium goes hand in hand with choice of surface – and this is particularly important when using soft pastels, which require a ‘tooth’ from the paper or board.
Canson Papers (the international renown fine art paper company from France) quickly recognised Robert’s abilities as both artist and tutor to create expressive, contemporary work with ease on their papers and encourage others to do the same. Thus Robert has recently been honoured to become an ambassador for the well-known global brand recognised for their innovative materials.
We are excited to know that Robert will be bringing these wonderful new Canson papers to Ilkley Art Show in August, and he is looking forward to demonstrating, explaining and teaching all about their useful qualities to our enthusiastic audiences.