All images photographed from the exhibition catalogue – RA bookshop

Seeing the Bigger Picture exhibition by David Hockney has had some kind of a magical, maybe even spiritual influence over me. I think essentially the scale of his work (meaning both the actual size and the scale as in quantity) can’t help but silence you into a little bit of awe-struck appreciation.

David Hockney "Double East Yorkshire." 1998

Then there is such passion, committment and technical ability evident that you can’t help be amazed. His energy belies his age (he is 74 years) and whenever I’ve heard Hockney talk or I’ve read his views, he has always struck me as a very down-to-earth man despite his fame and fortune; the kind of man you could chat to over a beer or a pot of tea. He comes across as the sort of man who wouldn’t make you feel small but would challenge you never-the-less to think differently and keep on thinking. Only a man with that kind of attitude could have embarked upon an exhibition like this and achieved it.

David Hockney "Winter Tunnel With Snow, March." 2006

We chose to take the audio tour (which I’d highly recommend) and there are a few sound-bites on it of Hockney talking about his work. His primary challenge to himself was to observe and really see, the changing of surrounding landscape scenery through the seasons.

David Hockney "Woldgate Mist,November." 2005

I found it really touching that this amiable man who is such a great artist, would choose to say that nature was beautiful and elevate it to a greater status simply by observing and recording it; beauty in the ordinary. And many of these scenes were just little everyday places in the local Yorkshire area of Bridlington, not famous tourist spots.

David Hockney "Garrowby Hil." 1998

And then there was the colour. And this really awed me because I have just never seen so many colours in use, so many colours blended and contrasted on one piece even.

David Hockney "Woldgate, 24 November" 2005

And so many times I saw a certain colour contrasted with another and thought to myself ‘Yes, that is SO right.’ Beautiful splodges, impressionist style layering, pastels and saturated colours all playing together, dabs, streaks, scratching, thin watery paint, tints and tones of every hue.

You can see that Hockney has brought a little of the L.A. sunshine to some works and Yorkshire looks bathed in a golden hue.

David Hockney "The Road to York through Siedmere." 1997

Other paintings look reminiscent of Matisse or The Fauves and Van Gogh features distinctly. Hockney is an artist still very open to influences old (past artists) or new (technology.) It’s refreshing that someone of his ability and standing is still open to learning.

David Hockney "Woldgate Woods 7 and 8 November" 2006

David Hockney "Woldgate Woods 4, 5 and 6 December" 2006

David Hockney "Woldgate Woods 6 and 9 November" 2006

He challenges the idea that we see a landscape from a single viewpoint. The Western idea is that you see through a window, whilst the Chinese idea is that you move through and it is the latter that Hockney explores in this exhibition. Some paintings read like a road map of a journey taken, more a record of a memory than an actual representation. And this is another idea that he plays with; painting from memory and painting from observation; repeatedly.

David Hockney Yorkshire, April 04, Sketchbook

“Everything begins with the sketchbooks” was my favourite quote from the audio tour. His drawings in charcoal and pencil are astounding and his sketchbooks range from the  highly detailed to the gestural.

David Hockney "Cut Trees" 2008

I really could just go on and on and I haven’t even mentioned the jaw-dropping i-pad pictures!

David Hockney "119.38" ipad painting

This exhibition was uplifting to me because it connected the human spirit so successfully to nature, showing all the beauty and change that nature is constantly showing us if only we can slow down enough to observe it.

David Hockney "Felled Trees on Woldgate" 2008

Hockney said

‘ anyone can do this too, you don’t need to come to Yorkshire, anyone can start in their own back garden. And if they did…well that would be thrilling.’

Hockney is encouraging us too, to paint. His body of work is just one way of seeing nature and he is affirming us to persue painting nature ourselves and trying to see and record the beauty in the ordinary which surrounds us.

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