“The landscape disturbed by a combination of natural and man-made forces is an important element in my work.”
“In January 2014 there was extensive flooding in the Surrey Hills, close to where I live. In the relatively mild weather of January and February I undertook a number of sketching expeditions in the area, making rapid sketches on photocopy paper with a felt-tip pen.
I was particularly interested in an extensive flooded area in a field used for grazing horses. This was at the base of a large hill, at the top of which stands a mansion house. The farmer had installed pipes to pump the flood water into the adjacent River Mole, which had burst its banks.
From my on-site sketches I made a number of A4-sized studies in white acrylic ink and used them as the basis for a study in colour, which ultimately led to the creation of Flooded Field in Surrey Hills.
The image is represen-tational. At the top of the drawing rain falls from two clouds, then percolates through the wooded hill and collects in the flat field. Water is pumped into the river, and the landscape on the far side of the river is depicted at the base of the composition.
Flooded Field in Surrey Hills is part of a series I refer to as “schematic landscapes” which I began in 2012.
The approach derives from my training as a Chartered Surveyor. It’s a way of depicting the visual content of landscape without reference to the actual distribution of all the elements within it. This has been my most commercially successful series, largely due, I think, to the colour scheme.
I have adopted a technique that involves a dip pen and a limited palette of acrylic inks.
Having investigated nib types for many years, I am a bit of a nib nerd. (For those who share my nib mania, I recommend a visit to the pen museum in Birmingham, where you can see hundreds of different types of nib and even make your own. And for purists reading this article, I use an EF pen by Goode & Co c. 1910 and a Mitchell & Co “Post Office” pen.) The support is Elephanthide, an ultra-HP paper favoured by bookbinders that is available in a number of shades. It has a brittle, only slightly absorbent surface. Once it dries, any ink deposited on the paper stands proud of the surface.
The sky design is based on a spreadsheet image.
I adopted this as I wanted a schema to locate sky elements in a structured way. The river is shown as a geometric matrix to indicate flow. Actually, I believe that the real (as opposed to the phenomenal) world has an appearance similar to this kind of geometry.
I am working on more art in this series, which I plan to submit for DRAW 14, this year’s SGFA open exhibition.”
Profile of the artist
Stephen Baker ASGFA works in all linear-based media, in particular sgraffito and graphite. He was born in the Midlands in the 1950s and studied Fine Art at Newport College of Art in South Wales, where he encountered Welsh mythology. He worked as a Chartered Surveyor for 30 years, which introduced him to the world of structures, schematic depiction and measurement, as well as the world of numbers and calculation.
Stephen became a full time artist in 2008, and in 2011 he was elected an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art. In 2013 his picture Navigation Chart for the Shalford Water Meadows won the Associates Prize at DRAW 13, the 92nd Annual Open Exhibition of the Society of Graphic Fine Art. Stephen cites Paul Klee as his biggest influence and, more immediately, the work of outsider artists. For more about Stephen and his art please visit his web site www.bakergraphis.com
The Pen Museum is home to more than 5,000 objects related to the Birmingham steel pen trades and the history of writing. http://www.penroom.co.uk