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Landscape painting for me as an occupation has followed a long career in architecture. I find it a self-fulfilling means for continuing the search for form in a more immediate medium, and for communication with others who are also interested in critical aesthetic expression. During my life in architecture there have been profound re-orientations affecting our life-world - the emergence of digital technology, the prominence of economic frameworks, environmental and climatic concerns et al that have dwarfed social and cultural affairs, bringing with it the premature death of modernism and an attendant, inchoate post-modernism. The artistic activity of generations have been swept aside to be replaced by a self-cancelling avant-garde where the act of painting has become an anachronism in the art world, and the work of the past become objects of absurd cash value regardless of any artistic sense of value.
       Outside the mainstream, in the meantime, artistic activity burgeons at its own level. Today's world invites a return to grass roots, where representation takes a deeper meaning. I regard painting as an opportunity for contemplation - a fresh questioning of why and what artists paint. And it is why I regard plein air painting, with its time and other constraints, not an end in itself, but as a part of an extended and connected process of artistic production. The meditative process I bring to painting means that I often spend more time looking at my work than in its execution.
       I find, as paintings accumulate, that a subject grouping is forming around location and place. The intimate landscape of Cambridgeshire, especially where I live in Toft in the Bourn Valley, assumes a primary source of motif - with its big skies, low-lying topography, and archaeologically significant field patterns and routes so firmly implanted in the scenery.
Colen Lumley
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