‘It is not only this sense of place but the uniqueness of experience at a specific moment in time. These new paintings offer a kind of permanence to that experience, to what was observed and more importantly for what was felt.’ – Steven Hood
Steven Hood studied drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art (1985-89) and has enjoyed a prestigious career with regular exhibitions at private galleries as well as with the Society of Scottish Artists and the Annual Exhibition, Royal Scottish Academy et al.
Living and working in the Edinburgh, the foreshore around Granton offers iconic views over the Firth of Forth, as in this magnificent, moody seascape, Haar over Cramond Island. For those who don’t know the word, Haar is a noun – a cold sea mist off the North Sea. Just a vague glimpse of the distant island can be seen through a hazy light struggling to break through the mass of greyness.
The fine perspective in Haar Enveloping Inchkeith Island, leads the eye from foreground of grassy, sandy cove, rocks and lapping waves to the slither of an island lost in the fog on the horizon. These two mesmerising scenes, enveloped in a semi opaque, soft light, convey the chilly dampness of the swirling haar, with such delicate atmospheric quality. Following in the brushstrokes of the pioneering Impressionists, Steven Hood likes to paint natural landscapes outside en plein air, for a personal response to changing light and weather. This is all part of his aim to seize the likeness of a place at a specific moment, akin to a painterly photograph.
A recent trip to the Aberdeenshire coastline shows he is a master at capturing the movement and patterning of clouds in Evening Sky, Gamrie Bay, near Gardenstown, shimmering in the rosy dusk.
Observing the light over the seashore at the end of the day is a recurring theme, such as the ambient detail in Setting Sun, the Mouth of the River Almond. The dark waves and grey rain clouds contrast with a glimmer of pink rays casting a faint glint on the water. Most inspiring is a duet, before and after sunset, ‘snapped’ over a few minutes on 26th June, looking over to Fife. This is all part of his aim to seize the likeness of a place at a specific moment, akin to a painterly photograph.
‘A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone’ – John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Such powerful abstract expression in Rain Clouds over Inchkeith island, the lashing downpour dramatically evoked with a flurry of thick, brash, bold brushstrokes. Art is more than a visual response, and Steven Hood also clearly conveys the enriching emotional experience with a real sense of place.
These paintings are even more powerful when viewed in the gallery – this is a great space to stand back and observe the wild natural beauty of the Scottish coastline, reflecting so well John Masefield’s poem Sea Fever – ‘I must down to the seas again, the lonely sea and the sky…’.
Social distancing measures allow for 6 people in the gallery at any given time. Face coverings must be worn and hand sanitiser will be provided.
With grateful thanks to Vivien Devlin for this review.