Environment and the Author

The Environment

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Exterior of the artist’s studio on the edge of the Exmoor National Park environment

The environment in which an artist or poet lives influences his or her work. Examples of this can be seen in the work of Goya or Robert Burns and many others. This, also, applies to Alexander Blackie who, as an artist and writer, interprets the world around him in his own inimitable way. Therefore, we can see his paintings are true reflections of place and atmosphere. Moreover, his writings are vivid evocations of his life and feelings. Alex’s current environment lies on the edge of Exmoor National Park. This an area of outstanding natural beauty. Here, wild red deer and hardy ponies roam hills riven by deep valleys carved out by ancient streams and rivers.

So, Alex derives inspiration from the beautiful countryside around him and creates stunning descriptions of his environment in his paintings and poetry. Hence, in this poetic example, Alex evokes autumn as viewed from his window:

Fall of Beauty

Mists caress the curves of slumbering earth
concealing the beauty hidden below
whose fruitful womb rests after giving birth
to an abundance of life in hedgerow,
woods, and mountains ensuring there’s no dearth
of wild food in lush green field or meadow
awaiting the waning sun’s warming kiss
on late harvest grapes hanging on for this

When at last the triumphant sun breaks through
pale sunbeams glint on swollen, gliding streams
and dispel the reluctant morning dew
on which long-tailed tits slake their thirst it seems
from nibbling on seeds of feverfew
or bathe busily in a land that gleams
as withered leaves drift in deep piles of gold
shielding the earth from early winter cold

The Artist

studio-interior

The interior of part of the artist’s studio

Alex is an accomplished artist as a result of honing his skills of painting and drawing at Glasgow School of Art. Under the tutelage of William Muirhead Bone, he learned to draw and paint from life. Powerful landscapes, seascapes, and portraits are executed. Among the mediums Alex uses are oils on canvas or board as well as egg tempera on wood panels. Despite the medium used, each work consists  of many layers of paint. This gives an usual depth and interest to each painting with flat washes of color, scumbled brushwork, juicy impasto, and glazing combining to make this possible. As a result, Alex’s work is powerful but has a mysterious quality as well.

The Poet

As well as being a very good artist, Alex is recognized, internationally, as as an exceptional poet having won numerous awards in competitions. Critics, fellow poets, and readers remark on the elegance and inspirational qualities of his verse and unusual rhymes and subtle humour. Although his poetry reflects a different type of environment from his painting, his style is evident in the thought-provoking observations on what Burns calls “man’s inhumanity to man.” Also, reactions to what the Bard calls the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” inspire Alex’s poetry. This is reflected in his poem below:

The Flowers of the Field

(Remembering and honoring those who fought in the Great War 1914-18)

https://historycollection.co/10-harsh-realities-trench-warfare-french-soldiers-world-war/6/

Fading flowers lie scattered on the ground
scythed down by deadly horizontal hail
The long, short, and tall fall without a sound
Relentless dawn’s bright light begins to fail
as noxious clouds of gas the sun shroud round
The fallen wait for help to no avail
their raw, tormented lungs gasping for breath
the only worthwhile blessing now is death

Blind heroes stumble forward towards hell
Unseen enemies fire with lethal aim
The crump of shells, the cordite’s acrid smell
Red-hot shards of shrapnel slash flesh and maim
Somewhere, a lost soul screams. It’s hard to tell
if it’s friend or foe for all sound the same
whether in khaki brown or field grey serge
In death, as not in life, their futures merge

The war is over and we’ve won – but lost
a generation with no chance to bloom
Victory comes at far too high a cost
numberless in the Unknown Soldier’s tomb
Bright tomorrows fade to black or lie crossed
in long white rows that vanish in the gloom
Such selfless sacrifice soothes our sorrow
for they died to let us live tomorrow

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