5 Minutes with Joseph Anthony Connor

Joseph Anthony Connor, digital landscape artist leading the 21st Century Landscape Art Class for Lakes Ignite 2016 Queen of the Lake - Digital painting by Joseph Anthony Connor Road Home - Digital painting by Joseph Anthony Connor

Introducing 5 minutes with… Joseph Anthony Connor..

Who is… the founder of Experto Crede and digital landscape artist leading the 21st Century Landscape Art Class for Lakes Ignite 2016.

Tell us more… We are in the serious business of improving lives and user experiences with mobile digital devices. Few cultures are as strongly linked to the land as those who live in, work or visit the Lake District. As a landscape artist I observe how Cumbrians have shaped the land, and in doing so utilise it to greatest effect and affect. I seek to do the same.

I lead a new movement of artists dedicated to painting outside on digital devices. The Lakes is largely an outdoor culture. People take their digital devices with them when they go outside. So the two entities use is often linked, but not as well as it could be…

We all take photos with these devices, yet seldom look closely at what we aim to capture

Even when a photo is stored, it is rarely viewed for more than a few seconds. Sketching outside on a digital devices requires one to look for longer. The act better links the eye to the brain, prompting the question ‘what am I looking at, and how can I represent it?’

A day sketching outside is worth a year inside… as you do what we all did before we had ‘screen time’ – watch light on a landscape, become emotionally connected with it and appreciate the land’s value and utility

During the 21st Century Landscape Art Class, for Lakes Ignite 2016, I hope to connect delegates to the landscapes they experience by giving them a reason to look for longer.

To ignite a new love of observing the landscape the Lake District takes a lot of beating. It offers so much inspiration, particularly because of the way in which light reflected from its many lakes illuminates its landscapes in a manner seldom seen elsewhere.

With new observation skills I hope to empower people. As Ruskin said ‘..the most powerful imagination must found itself on facts, and recognise what they are..’

Why is this special to you… I recognise that as a species we see more and observe less, and we travel more but move less. I think this is a danger to society and the appreciation of any culture. I feel we need to re-develop our visual literacy – this is one reason why I support the Campaign for Drawing.

Sketching what one sees increases observational skills and brings acceptance, joy, relaxation and focus.

Sketching outside on a digital device requires you to understand what you are looking at, and make it concise as an appealing subject. Also, to get a good view you need to move. Thus one observes and moves more in my practice. People enjoy this experience. I find they subsequently seek out other locations from where to sketch.

What can audiences expect… In my 21st Century Landscape Art Class people learn to shape the land into a piece of art that is valuable to those with whom they communicate online. They become local artists, farmers, tourism organisations, and visitor attraction organisations as they learn to utilise the land for a new purpose. They will learn a skill with their mobile device that will improve their life and their experience of places they visit.

When they share their new skill online with their friends they too will realise everyone can sketch, and in their mobile digital device they have all the tools they require, and most importantly that ‘cannot’ need not be part of their vocabulary, but ‘have done and will do’ does.

Derwent Water Sunset - Digital painting by Joseph Anthony Connor
Derwent Water Sunset – Digital painting by Joseph Anthony Connor

If you could name only 3 unmissable cultural hot spots or events in the Lakes – what would they be… My top 3 cultural hot spots all celebrate being outside and better observation:

– Orrest Head because it offers a view of the lakes that inspired Alfred Wainwright, whose line art and associated guides have inspired millions of visitors. A tradition continued by the Wainwright Society.
The Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere: as for generations their art has represented the lakes beautifully, whilst pioneering its consumption via the use of prints
Brantwood, a place that celebrates Ruskin’s values (which I share) not least that ‘great art.. takes a serious view of human destiny’.

In a nutshell how would you describe the cultural offer in the Lakes… The Lake District offers the ability to make cultures better: In today’s society people want to experience something quickly.

In a day a person can travel across the whole Lakes and realise awe inspiring beauty at every turn. If they walked their problems would be dwarfed by the majesty of its mountains. And if they stood still, and simply observed, the ground would welcome them and give them peace and focus.

The Lake District has the ability to make a person open to a new ways of thinking, empowering them to define better the culture they want to support and live in.

Add after a cultural adventure in the Lakes, where would be your ideal place to eat or stay…

My cultural adventures normally involve being outside for hours, walking, and painting on my digital devices. So my ideal place to eat would be a local pub, with a fire, that served home made food.

As for places to stay: any of its mountains; as I sleep like a god outside, and experience the most inspiring light at sunset and sunrise from which most of my work derives.

But, if I were to recommend accommodation it would have to be one with a great view. For example Ambleside or Langdale Youth Hostel, or if ‘creature comforts’ were needed: The Low Wood Bay Hotel.

However, if people wanted more independent guidance I would suggest they look up the Go Lakes website

And we just have to ask.. if you could choose one view in the Lakes where would that be… Any location that give one a view of the Langdale Pikes at Sunset.

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21st Century Landscape Art Class – a contemporary art experience for Lakes Ignite 2016, led by leading digital artist Joseph Connor, takes place on 14 and 21 May at Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre

Lakes Ignite 2016 – celebrating art and culture in the Lake District that sparks your imagination from 30 April – 22 May, is supported by United Utilities.