Hockney moves into an enormous studio in Bridlington, where he prepares for a large solo exhibition to be held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2012. He continues to use digital photography to plan—draw—expansive images of the East Yorkshire landscape, shooting the parts of the multi-canvas works as they progress, turning to his digital images to envision their placement within the larger work he is painting. He is no longer painting only outside, and is glad to rely now on his memory in creating a motif.
I’ve just rented a very, very large warehouse in Bridlington—the largest studio I’ve ever had. When I signed the lease for five years, I felt twenty years younger. I stopped feeling frail and started feeling energetic. Occasionally, I collapse and spend three days in bed, which is generally three days asleep because I can’t just lie in bed doing nothing. I’m looking forward to painting there because I think it will make a difference to the work and to me being in a bigger space.
Now, for autumn, I have recorded some changes in the last week through drawings and through computer drawings, and I will do some more later this week .... I began to work in the studio because I wanted to use memory, you see. I felt I had done enough outside. I had done a lot of hard looking. I was beginning to get a vocabulary.
I used aspects of the computer that permit almost instant reproduction, digital photography in other words. That enables you to build up the rectangles and see them together, so I can see immediately what’s happening in the picture. Technology is allowing us to do all kinds of things today, but I don’t think anybody has thought it could help painting. The computer is a very good tool, but it needs imagination to use it well.
Woldgate Woods in Chicago
At the Arts Club of Chicago, ten of Hockney’s recent landscape paintings are on view. These paintings [NESTED]represent his dedication, evident across his larger body of work, to observing trees, and his particular relationship to the trees at Woldgate Woods near Bridlington.
Trees are the largest manifestation of the life-force we see. No two trees are the same, like us. We’re all a little bit different inside, and look a little bit different outside. You notice that more in the winter than in the summer. They are not that easy to draw, especially with foliage on them. If you are not there at the right time, it is difficult to see the shapes and volumes in them. At midday, you can’t do that .... Trees become friends. One road I like particularly has trees that must have been planted two hundred years ago. I’ve always liked trees, but being here you look really hard at them. You notice things. The ash trees are always the last to come out.
Drawing in a printing machine
During the year Hockney begins using the computer program Photoshop and does a series of portraits reminiscent of those in watercolor. He proves [NESTED]deft at using the tool, which requires him to draw using a stylus on a pad, while keeping his eyes on both sitter and computer screen. Ultimately, he uses Photoshop to do a series of landscapes as well.
It allows you to draw directly in a printing machine …. I used to think the computer was too slow for a draughtsman. You had finished a line, and the computer was 15 seconds later, an absurd position for someone drawing, but things have improved, and it now enables one to draw very freely and fast with color. There are advantages and disadvantages to anything new in mediums for artists, but the speed allowed here with color is something new, swapping brushes in the hand with oil or watercolor takes time.
Three Trees near Thixendale
Hockney completes four massive paintings of a particular view, Three Trees near Thixendale, begun in 2007, each in a different season.
I thought I’d do them in August because the trees looked majestic to me. I realized they were about 200 years old each. In the winter you wouldn’t notice them much .... In the summer it’s just the largeness, the weight it seems to have; the branches are bending because of the weight of the foliage. In December they are reaching for the light. So once you’ve done the second one, you think, "Well, when spring comes along, and it’s changing, I’ll do another." So I did. The spring was quite hard, because spring happens very quickly here. We call it "action week."
- Looking at Woldgate Woods, Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (Apr 25–Jul 18); catalogue.
- Pacific Light: A Survey of California Watercolor 1908–2008, Nordiska Akvarellmuseet (Nordic Watercolor Museum), Skarhamn, Sweden (May–Sep 2008).
- This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in L.A. Photographs, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, USA (Jun 14–Sep 16), travels to Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland (Jan 30–Apr 19, 2009) and Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France (Oct 24, 2009–Jan. 31, 2010).
- The Norman Stevens Tribute Exhibition: David Hockney, David Oxtoby, John Loker, Michael Vaughan, Norman Stevens, Redfern Gallery, London, UK (Jul 22–Sep 25); catalogue.
- Synesthesia: Art and the Mind, McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Canada (Sep 18–Dec 20); catalogue.
- David Hockney: Looking at Woldgate Woods, by David Hockney, London.
- True to Life: Twenty Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney, by Lawrence Weschler, Berkeley: University of California Press.