Spirit of Place – the art of Diana Hale

(above: Low Tide – Evening, 40 x 30 cms, acrylic on canvas, 2010)

We discovered Diana Hale’s art through her blog, and really enjoyed not only her paintings but also the words that accompanied them. We asked her to write a post on how the sense of a place influences her work:

Having nearly always lived near water, I do feel drawn to paint watery landscapes, whether rivers, streams, ponds, lakes or estuaries and marshes, shorelines. I like the ever changing nature of moving water and tidal variations. The same place can appear entirely different at different times of day. Changing light effects are enhanced by water. Water inevitably creates open spaces, often empty spaces. A sense of space is something I am aware of whenever I step outside into the open air and I can’t help but feel an immediate sense of liberation. Painting is one way of capturing this feeling.

It is possible to find empty spaces even in the city and I have several paintings of the Thames at low tide near the South Bank which show this. They could in reality be anywhere and I like the fact that they have a particular meaning and location to me but not necessarily to anyone else. They are both subjective and objective spaces.

(above: Viaduct Pond, 30 x 25 cms, acrylic on canvas, 2010)

As photographers know early morning and dusk are the best times of day for good light effects and the same is true for painting landscapes, particularly to enhance atmosphere. There is also something abstracting or reductive about dusk and night which appeals to me.

I tend to like less obvious places and views as they offer more possibility to do something new or different – but even well known places such as Hampstead Heath can be of interest. The painting of the Viaduct Pond was one of a whole series of work done on the Heath which even included pieces of land art. I do enjoy working outside even with the restrictions it imposes – having to work quickly and with limited resources, for example, can be a freeing up process artistically. This can lead to a spontaneity which I hope shows up in the work done. Although the particularity of the place was important to me again it is not evident in the painting!

(above: Low Tide – Night, 30 x 25cms, acrylic on canvas, 2010)

I found a quote in ‘Genius Loci – Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture‘, by Christian Norberg-Schulz, talking about natural places, which sums up what I feel:

“To some extent the character of a place is a function of time; it changes with the seasons, the course of the day and the weather, factors which above all determine different conditions of light.”

This is the spirit of place to me.

Diana Hale, April 2012

4 thoughts on “Spirit of Place – the art of Diana Hale

  1. Pingback: Place – what does it mean? « dianajhale

  2. KM Huber

    Yes, “spirit of place” is setting, to me, although I had not thought of expressing it as such until I read your post. As a writer, you have given me another light in which to view setting. Thank you, Also, in what I have been privileged to view of your work–thanks to your blog–there is a sense of spontaneity as you discuss in painting out of doors but for me, there is an immediacy to your work in that you put me in a moment to do with what I will.

    Wonderful post, Diana.


  3. paul

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, and I can’t say much more than agree with what you just posted and thank Diana again for contributing her work to our website.

  4. Pingback: Does Place Matter? Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? « dianajhale

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