David Hockney ‘9 Canvas Study of The Grand Canyon’ 1998 and ‘The Road Across the Wolds’ 1997. How did he do it?

David Hockney ‘9 Canvas Study of The Grand Canyon’ 1998 and ‘The Road Across the Wolds’ 1997. How did he do it?

Few photographs can capture the grandeur, awesomeness and sheer drama of the Grand Canyon to compete with David Hockney’s ‘9 Canvas Study of The Grand Canyon’.

The Grand Canyon David Hockney
David Hockney 9 Canvas Study of The Grand Canyon 1998

Few photographs capture the homeliness, intimacy, fecundity and lushness of the rural English countryside than David Hockney’sThe Road Across the Wolds’.

The Road Across the Wolds David Hockney. A contrast to his Grand Cnayon
David Hockney The Road Across the Wolds

HOW did he do it?

The Grand Canyon: How did he do it?

Let’s look at the 9 Canvas Study of The Grand Canyon’ first. The first thing that strikes you are the colours, predominantly the reds.

Red vibrates, it urges forward towards us. It is the colour of love, drama, blood, life itself and here it reaches out and envelopes us.

The scene is not framed – it extends beyond the canvas – open not closed form, the scene drawing us in.

The Grand Canyon scene is too large for the canvas, emphasised by the squeezing out of the sky. In fact the Grand Canyon is too large for a single canvas, Hockney uses an art device of 9 canvases to emphasise his point.

The vibrancy of the Grand Canyon colours is added to by the obvious pounding dramatic brushstrokes, to capture that precise moment and movement of light.

Stand and stare, be drawn in. How did he do it?

In contrast to the Grand Canyon is The Road Across the Wolds’.

Again we have a squeezed in sky, but not the vastness of the Grand Canyon as illustrated by the field system depicting the quaintness and quietness of the English countryside.

England - not the Grand Canyon
David Hockney The Road to Thwing 2006

The habitations – small, on a human scale, each offering the story of who resides within: country-folk, families, aged parents. For you to decide, but the mere presence of the easily managed buildings adds to the homeliness of the pastoral scene.

Tea and honey: in England not the Grand Canyon

Again all extends beyond the scope of the canvas – open form, the perspective is flat aerially and linear.

It’s not reaching out to us like the Grand Canyon but is richly warmly inviting us in for tea and honey.

England A contrast to the Grand Canyon
David Hockney The Big Picture

David Hockney is on show at Tate Britain London