I spent the last weekend in the mountains, in the Chamonix area in France, where I took a million pictures while doing my first hiking tour ever. A very good friend of mine, madly in love with mountains, glaciers, and art came up with an idea that painting a mountain is very much like painting a portrait. It is impossible to paint a mountain properly if the artist who embarks on the painting is not aware of the mountain’s origin, history, the way it has been maturing, etc. Getting to know a mountain is also about learning of its behaviour in different light, and weather. Mountains can have a very different view of humans depending on the time of year or the season.
Of course, it is always possible to trace a photograph onto a canvas, but what’s the point in in painting then?
As people generally love watching mountains, taking pictures of mountains, and remembering mountains, there is a horde of artists who churn out mountain images and even tell you about their secrets on YouTube. Do they add anything to the understanding of mountains, human infatuation with the huge rocky things, or the human character with all its strengths and weaknesses that manifest themselves when Man meets a Mountain? Erm. No.
Turner was one of the greatest explorers of human character against the backdrop of a mountain ridge. Roerich established a spiritual link to Tibet via his shapes, colours, and mad beliefs in the Mother Earth (or something similarly crazy).
Raise your hand if you know someone else! I’d love to know more “mountain names”.
In the meantime, here are a few views that impressed me so much I got interested in finding more mountain portraiture painters!
UPDATE: Boryana, a good friend of mine and an amazing artist suggested Cezanne and his 60 paintings of the mountain Sainte-Victoire as an “mountain artist name”. Of course! Especially in view of his own testimony: he wrote that needed to know the geology, and specifically the geology of Sainte-Victoire because it moved and improved him. I can’t stop wondering how Cezanne’s ideas resonate with those of the friend of mine who compared painting mountains to portraiture!