Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Body and Soul of Landscape

Birge Harrison, Winter Sunset
In his book Landscape Painting , Birge Harrison (1854-1929) said: "Any landscape has a soul as well as a body. Its body is our great rock-ribbed mother-earth with her endless expanse of fields and hills, of rivers and surging seas. Its soul is the spirit of light — of sunlight, of moonlight, of starlight— which plays ceaselessly across the face of the landscape, veiling it at night in mystery and shadow, painting it at dawn with the colors of the pearl-shell, and bathing it at mid-day in a luminous glory."

L. Birge Harrison (1854-1929),
Grand Central and the Biltmore in Hazy Twilight
Harrison continues: "To this and to the ambient and all-enveloping atmosphere, with its clouds and its mists, its rain and its veiling haze, are due the infinite and ever-shifting moods of nature. He who paints the body alone may be an excellent craftsman, but the true artist is he who paints the beautiful body informed and irradiated by the still more lovely and fascinating spirit — he who renders the mood."
Birge Harrison Landscape Painting (reprint)
Wikipedia on Birge Harrison


René PleinAir said...

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar !!

Carole Mayne said...

Beautifully said! Happy New Year, James! You keep us informed and certainly on our toes! Thank you.

Matthew Jonas said...

Hello there, James Gurney! I really do admire your artwork and understand its impact on the world! So, when is the next major Dinotopia book coming out?

Sesco said...

that is likely the most elegantly simple definition of painting the landscape I have ever read. I would personally add one other element that completes the definition, and that is motion. Wood smoke rising, flying birds, a freight train in the distance, people walking, trees bent in the wind, etc. Perhaps not in every painting of the landscape, as many times the mood is enough and does not contain motion, but it definitely deserves a place in many paintings.

Virginia Fhinn said...

"Our great rock-ribbed mother earth"
That's fantastic

Edward West said...


I love this matter. A college class online could help to get into this even more.

All the best,