Plein Air Painter Returns To Cornish Views

Plein Air Painter Returns To Cornish Views
Track Through The Elms, Gurnard’s Head

This August and September, popular ‘plein air’ painter Mark Preston returns to Lighthouse Gallery in Penzance with a solo show of 35 new canvases, recording his frequent trips to paint outdoors in Cornwall over the last two years.

The show will take place from 30th August to 15th September in the gallery on Causewayhead and promises to be one of the highlights of the summer for art lovers and collectors.

Mark is based in Derbyshire but has visited Cornwall every year of his life, first on family holidays and then – from his twenties onwards – on numerous painting trips each year.

He explains that the attraction lies both in the landscape itself but also in Cornwall’s artistic heritage:

“There is so much drama in the Cornish landscape, in Penwith particularly. I love to immerse myself in those elemental qualities and soak up the essence of a particular season – of a particular day even.”

He added: “As well as painting I also spend my time visiting galleries – there are so many fantastic ones in Cornwall. I’ve always been strongly drawn to Cornish artists, historic and contemporary, and I enjoy looking at how different painters respond to the landscape, whether through representational or abstract means.” 

Mark paints in acrylics and most of his canvases are completed in-situ – an approach which is becoming more unusual.

Christine Weschke of Lighthouse Gallery comments: “Many of the artists we work with sketch and paint en plein air but, now that digital photography is so easy and instantaneous, the majority return to their studios to ‘work up’ an idea. Mark is quite unusual in his commitment to experiencing the landscape and elements directly in order to capture them in paint.” 

Mark and his easel are a common sight in Penwith, particularly along the coast path, and he has met and conversed with people from all walks of life whilst painting.

He explains: “People are often intrigued to see me sat at my easel and strike up a conversation. Many people have come to my exhibitions to see the finished article, or even bought work as a result of a chance encounter!”

He adds: “I don’t usually go for the obvious, or ‘iconic’ views of Cornwall. I’m more interested in the glimpses over a hedge, round a bend – those every day views seem to resonate with people, recalling the simple pleasures of a walk in the countryside.”

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