Updates….. Current thoughts…. Musings…… Ideas….

New tangents…..  New experiments…..


I hope you find my blogs entertaining, a useful glimpse of what is

going on in my artist’s head…


The real ingredients of my work are time, weather, geology and geography. I like to say that I simply go and look, select, and distil each Dale’s wonderful dance.

But it turns out that the dance is much deeper and more ancient than I thought; strangely, this northern land of ours wasn’t always northern.

200 million years ago, our Yorkshire land was near the equator and the rocks were forming under warm tropical seas alive with marine life. How baffling. The layers of limestone formed as the seas rose and fell and rose again, deltas dried and refilled, debris from sea creatures accumulated and was pressed into rock layers. Shale layers also accumulated, sandy layers too – and so, over the millennia, the Yoredale Series was formed, a pattern of rocks which now dictate the very contours that we see on the sides of our moors. How so?

The supercontinent Pangea broke up and some lands moved slowly north via the power of Earth’s drifting tectonic plates. The Yoredale rocks found a new home under our dales scenery! Moved, pushed, shaped by the ice age glacial melts, eroded by streams, rivers, Yorkshire weather.

And the ancient layers weather differently, erode differently, break down differently. Sandstones form a smooth upper blanket and offer boggy, peaty soils which todays’s heather loves. Shale layers get loose and become scree; limestone stands up to the erosion in vertical escarpments and horizontal pavements, drains the soil well and creates the perfect conditions for lush grasslands.

And so the very surface shapes of our moors and dales – the stepped contours, the rounded tops, the craggy escarpments and diagonal screes - are precisely dictated by the Yoredale rocks beneath. And the exact colours – the purples of the August heather, the greys of the unstable scree, the bright greens of the grasses, are also beautifully connected to these ancient rock layers.

What a captivating tale it is. In one of my latest paintings, I carefully uncover these stories in my composition: the acrylic underpainting is left bare in places to reveal the lithological symbols for the rock beneath the surface. Here the dots for the sandstone, here the dashes for the shale, here the brick pattern for limestone.

Perhaps the dales landscape intrigues, baffles and captivates you too.


I seem to be sensitised to pebbles – a few years ago I picked one up and started a gentle, personal muse – and now I notice them everywhere! Not just on paths and beaches, but in furniture designs, fabric designs, pavement mosaics, in poetry and prose; built into natural sculptures, featured in paintings and celebrated in beautiful photographs. They seem to provoke curiosity, collect memories, trigger investigations, create meditations. They seem solid, enduring, entrancing, an easy palm-sized connection with planet earth and its ancient history.

So my own pebble muse has gradually crescendo-ed: I have a brand new fascination with geology, a thirst for topographical maps and bedrock diagrams, and renewed energy to explore further, walk further: I find new-to-me dales, hidden dales, remote and almost-inaccessible dales. And I even see familiar dales with new eyes.

I am finding profound, exciting answers to my many questions of why this contour? How that moor shape? Why that erosion? Watersheds, confluences, earthquakes and giant faults and folds, all fabulous stuff for my compositions. From small pebbles to huge sweeps of moorland – so many stories connect them all. New discussions, new conversations, a deeper understanding for me along with a very healthy reminder to revere our precious land.

I hope each of my newest landscape paintings might start a new story; its hidden pebble shape enticing the viewer to stop and ponder: What does she see? What does he muse?

All images are Copyright © Lucia Smith

Please note that all of the images on this site are low-resolution and are therefore not representative of the high-quality reproduction of the print editions.


Web site last updated: 25/07/2017