Landscape perceptions and experiences

The aims of this blog is
1) to gather material which helps us to view 'Landscape' from many different perspectives (Science, Phenomenology, Aesthetics, Ethics etc)
2) and secondly to record 'Landscape experiences' from our workshops (Reports) and my own experiences (Diary).
For our workshops see our website

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Walks with Robert Hart

Robert having a rest with sentinel

Every month we organise a walk together (dogs included)
Our first walk was in the Razes area somewhere between Mirepoix and Carcassonne.

Razes landscape during very early spring

Our next walk was around Camurac, an isolated village in the Pyrenees.

View on Camurac

Isolated valley


Dogs attack snowman!
Our next walk was high  above Foix from where you can see nearly all the Pyrenees  and to Toulouse etc the other way.
Robert, Fleur and the patch of snow

View on the Pyrenees

Fleur thirsty

Biscuit & Roly thirsty

All together another nice day.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

1-day workshops 2011

Excursion 3rd April 2011

As I went a week before with the Lerandoneur (Walking group from Leran) on a very enjoyable walk from Bastide sur l'Hers to St Colombe sur l'Hers via Miraval I thought to repeat this with my group.
In Bastide Amanda told us the story behind a historic building. Inside this building is a stairway build in a peculiar way so that the owner could go to his rooms upstairs (bedroom?) by horse!
Anyway we went along the old railway and then along a fairly steep footpath direction Miraval.
Valley with old railway track
On the way we could see the valley below and we shared what were the first impressions.
Again they were for each very different, but together we formed a more coherent picture.
Also we collected each a plant on the way and when we were at the top we had a drawing session and a coffee.
We found peculiar roundish beads and we discovered they were seeds from Purple Gromwell.
They are fairly local here, you see them everywhere in partly shaded places.

We continued our walk through Miraval with splendid views on the area around Lac Montbel to the north and facing south to the high mountains still covered with snow.


Then we continued on a very nice path aligned with mainly oak trees, along the edge of the hill, to a place called St Hugo, a very nice place to have our lunch. St Hugo is the patron saint of the hunters.

St Hugo

On the way back we found a place so we could draw the area around Lac Montbel.

Lac Montbel
 But it began to rain a bit and as we had to walk back a fair way, we packed our bags and left.

Excursion 8 May 2011  Confronting a mystery in a landscape and revealed on the same day!

This time I had the idea to show people a piece of landscape with a mystery attached.
We live near Sautel and there is an  area where you find small huts and small to very small areas of land, parcelled of by walls. Also small terraces and we always asked ourselves what has taken place here.
Near Sautel

Near Sautel
So I positioned the people so that there back was turned towards that area and we discussed the landscape we saw and we came to that in that landscape there were no mysteries, although we might be nosy to what is behind the hill or to other areas in the landscape we could not see.

Then I asked them to turn around and straight away they asked: what is this?
We wandered around and came up with all kinds of ideas. Sheep gathering, pig enclosures or Self-sufficient community with gardens and animal enclosures?
Small terraces
So we wandered around for a time and then sat down to do some drawing and having coffee!

Drawing the huts

Then we drove to Lieurac, from where we walked to a picnic table with excellent view on Lieurac and surroundings so a good spot to have an observation exercise and drawing session and lunch.
The owner of the piece of land was around and so my wife started to have a conversation with him and in the mean time we had a discussion about the various dimensions of landscape (vertical, horizontal, seasonal and historical dimensions)
Then my wife returned with the exiting news that the place we saw in Sautal had been a leper settlement and that there is another one near St Girons, also in the Ariege.
We are talking about the time of 1800.
Now somehow it all maked sense. Not that we knew everything, but a certain mystery was revealed.
And other things also became connected; Does this have to do that there are two churches, one in the village itself and one high above the village, where we find also some houses.
Sautel is also popular because of its water fountains.

Peter's drawing of Lieurac

After lunch we had a drawing session, shared our experiences and drawings and had a nice walk through village of Lieurac itself (visit the cemetery with some very old architectural features) and then end up with an easy walk back to Sautel.
Altogether it was a very exciting and beautiful day.

Why draw landscapes?

This article I received via the newsletter from Landscape Europe
It is written by Joahan Meeus and translated by Jean Tee

Why draw landscapes?

I don’t make drawings of the landscape because I like to make strokes across a paper. Quite the reverse: through my strokes I try to understand the three-dimensional structure of the space. This forces me to make sharp observations and be very focused for a short amount of time. 

My intention with a sketch is to depict the atmosphere of a landscape; to indicate the proportions of buildings and plants to the open space; and finally hint at the materials, all in about ten minutes. In order to do this, I need to confine myself to what I consider to be the essence of the landscape. 

I also have to restrain myself from overdoing it. If I take too long and try to put in too much at the same time, I lose sight of what is essential and the drawing gets ruined. My objective is not to depict all the leaves on a tree or all details of a building, but rather to portray these objects in their surroundings, making up the space together.

I primarily make the sketches for myself, to remember a landscape by what made an impression on me. When I’m finished with my observations in the field, I stop working on the sketches, because I’m afraid I would otherwise draw in so many details or jazz them up in such a way that the initial experience is lost. To me, the field-sketch is either finished or a failure. The first drawings of a series always fail. I’m not sure why, but only after some exercise, the sketching is done faster and more effectively. Besides, it turns out that the subsequent drawings of a certain landscape have already set my strokes across the paper, so that later drawings become much sharper. 

The aim is to use the smallest amount of lines as possible to still be able to give the impression of a landscape.