About Frank Gordon
Frank has been an artist all his life; that is, from the time he entered Bolton College of Art at the age of fifteen (you could do things like that once upon a time), throughout his thirty years of teaching art and right up to today - and he will tell you that he enjoys his painting more than ever, following his early retirement in 1995 and his move to Giggleswick in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Frank’s commitment to the practice of landscape painting has gone hand in hand with a lifetime’s walking and backpacking. In partnership with his wife Sheila he has covered many of the Long Distance Footpaths in Britain: the Pennine Way, Coast to Coast, Cumbria Way, Dales Way, Cape Wrath Trail and Ridgeway amongst others - plus of course Sheila’s very own Lady Anne’s Way. All this eventually culminated in an epic unsupported 1,200 mile Land’s End to John o’Groats walk, backpacking all the way. Big walks in the Alps have included the Tour de Mont Blanc and the Haute Route.
Membership of the Long Distance Walker’s Association introduced Frank and Sheila to the joys and tribulations of Challenge Walking, including the mighty Fellsman Hike which covers 62 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing in the Yorkshire Dales. (Sheila went on to do a couple of Hundred Milers which was a madness too far even for her husband.) In more recent years another long held ambition was realised with the completion of all A. Wainwright's 214 Lakeland fells.
All this walking – which continues in a milder but still committed form to this day – has inevitably forged a powerful connection between his art and the landscape from which it springs. Continued closeness with the land is a basic prerequisite for anyone with any pretensions to be a landscape painter and it is this intimacy which gives Frank Gordon’s work its life and vitality. Ever greater familiarity in all seasons and weathers leads to a deeper understanding of the rhythms and echoes with which the landscape of his adopted home abounds.
Most subject matter relates to scenes within a few miles of home (especially the Three Peaks area of Ribblesdale) and concentrates on finding a balance between the recall of intense first-hand experience and more painterly concerns of colour and form. He works in oil, acrylics and watercolour, enjoying the varied qualities that each brings to the picture-making process - although oil paint remains his favourite medium. Directly observed drawings in all seasons and weathers are supplemented with photographs; these, together with memory and imagination, are combined in the studio in the making of the finished work.
A small selection of sketches can be seen in the two Sketchbook Pages.
‘I try to recapture the feeling of being amongst the hills: experiencing their flickering light, flying cloud shadows, buffeting wind, rainwater on the face . . . while never forgetting that behind these fleeting sensory assaults lies the enduring rock, solid and unyielding under my feet. This collision between the ephemeral and the eternal is a good subject for a painter.’
Frank Gordon exhibits widely, mainly in the north of England; he has featured in various publications including ‘International Artist’, ‘The Artist’, ‘Yorkshire Life’, ‘The Dalesman’, ‘Yorkshire Dales Review’ and 'Yorkshire Post'. He illustrated his wife Sheila Gordon's 'Lady Anne's Way' and 'Minitreks in the North Pennines' walking books. (Click on Lady Anne's Way to go to the website.) His work can be found in numerous private collections, both in this country and abroad.