David Reeve

I've been been rock climbing and bouldering for over 26 years and have had a long standing interest in photography and video. Work & family prevented any sustained creative capability until 2005, when I took early retirement. I enrolled on an Access to Art & Design course and discovered a keen interest in painting.

I’ve chosen to create my work in oil paint because it gives me the ability to reflect my own climbing experiences and feelings in the completed image in a way that photography cannot. I can also paint from any perspective I wish e.g. from the rock face itself which would not be possible with a camera. I have chosen to paint in a realism style because I think this is the most appropriate style for me and the viewer at this point in time.

Climbing is not a mainstream activity and strong clues need to be given in order for the viewer to understand what the subject is about. Other styles of painting such as cubism or abstractionism work because they are usually of familiar items which the viewer can often work out. With climbing, many people have no terms of reference and so may need a more recognizable image.

The nature of my subject matter means that it is very difficult to work from the flesh with a model. There are the physical aspects of the climbing environment itself which poses dangers for the model and significant practical difficulties for the artist. There is also the impossibility of getting a model (or climber) to hold a pose when they are under extreme physical exertion. For these reasons photographs are the most practical source of images. 

Working from photos has proven problematic though, as even a good camera has somewhat limited focus and lighting capability. Do I paint as the camera shows with perhaps part of the painting out of focus or badly lit or do I paint as if I was there, with all of the painting in focus (as the eye would actually see it) ? One also has to consider that what works in a photograph does not necessarily work on canvas and it is often necessary to change or invent sections in order to create a convincing painting.

If we see something slightly odd in a photograph we tend to accept it because we are looking a machine image and are perhaps used to the limitations of that type of image. With a painting we are aware that we what we are seeing is what the artist has painted and so we tend to be more critical of the image.

The work shown on this site reflects my early attempts at capturing some of the essence of climbing as well as some more recent work and I hope you like it.

David Reeve - November 2013

© Dave Reeve all rights reserved no images may be used without my permission