JOHN D. PETTY| drawings and paintings

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In my landscape drawings and paintings I do not try to produce an accurate representation of the landscape, rather the work is about being in the landscape.



In East Yorkshire and especially the Holderness area, you’d have to look hard to find a landscape that is not agricultural and intensively farmed. Until I returned after taking early retirement, I hadn’t fully realised just how much I missed the East Riding and, especially, the River Humber. It’s low-lying land and is criss-crossed with drainage channels. ‘Ings’ is a common name in the Holderness area (Ings Road, Sutton Ings for example) and it comes from a Norse word meaning water meadow or marsh. It’s the drains and ditches that keep the Holderness area in a condition that can be farmed.

It’s a horizontal landscape in which there are very few vertical accents; the telephone and electricity poles, a copse of trees, a hedgerow. These things do tend to stand out and the poles in particular can have a slightly forlorn quality sometimes and the nothingness of a big field of crop presents a particular challenge, not only because I have such conflicting views about that kind of monoculture.

Other landscape artists are attracted to the hills or to the moorland; I feel a particular connection to the flatlands simply because it’s here that I grew up; I don’t think I could be so committed to drawing and painting a landscape that I didn’t feel a strong connection to, my own great grandmother was a servant girl in one of the big farmhouses in the area. The names of many of the farms and the roads reflect the origins of the land; Marsh Lane, Thorn Marsh Farm and so on.

When I started to draw this landscape seriously about ten years ago, I was clear that the drawing skills I had at my disposal, skills that come from producing camera-ready artwork for graphics for print, were definitely not the direction I wanted to go in and I had to explore different ways to work. The hard plastic rubber is a way of extending the mark-making of the graphite—marks made very heavily with a 9B graphite stick and then rubbed back with the eraser are very different from marks made with a 2B graphite stick. The deeply scratched marks are sometimes structural—graphite will tend to collect in the scratches to produce marks that I couldn’t easily make otherwise—and sometimes they are no more than disruption which then gives something new for me to work around.

I’ve settled now, on Saunders Waterford for the drawings and on Jackson’s Eco Paper for the acrylic paintings. Eco Paper is a hand-made rag paper and available in a very heavy weight and being handmade it also has a very irregular deckle-edge and I prefer to keep this as I feel it contributes considerably to the work.


John D. Petty. July 2018

Summary of exhibitions since 2012.

Solo exhibitions.

2018
Drawing and painting the Agricultural Landscape. Morten Gallery, Bridlington.

Mud and Water. Eleven Gallery, Hull.

2017
Mud and Spit. The Ropewalk, Barton-on-Humber.


Joint and open exhibitions.

2018
East Riding Open. Beverley.

From the Humber to the Wash. Biennial open. The Ropewalk, Barton-on-Humber.

2017
Great North Art Show. Ripon.

Ferens Open. Hull.

2016
East Riding Open. Beverley

Great North Art Show. Ripon.

Eleven Gallery, Hull.

2015
East Riding Open. Beverley.

From the Humber to the Wash. Biennial open. The Ropewalk, Barton-on-Humber.

Ferens Open. Hull.

Figurative. POP Gallery, Hull.

2014
POP Gallery Open Exhibition. Hull.

East Riding Open. Beverley.

Ferens Open. Hull.

2013

From the Humber to the Wash. Biennial open. The Ropewalk, Barton-on-Humber.

2012
Ferens Open. Hull.

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