Aelbert Cuyp was a Dutch painter in the 17th century and his landscape paintings of cattle on pasture at the water’s edge with delicate golden light illuminating the scene really caught my eye when I studied art history. Some painters and artworks I have indeed forgotten over the years, but for some reason I never forgot learning about Cuyp.
When I started making photographs seriously 7 years ago, what I learned in those art history lecture halls as a student informed how I saw the world through my camera. Occasionally I’d notice Jacob Van Ruisdael clouds in the sky or I’d take a portrait using “Vermeer lighting” but I never encountered a scene or a moment that reminded me of Cuyp. His scenes were of a bygone world, somewhere so different from where I grew up in suburban New Jersey with a kind of light that I never had the pleasure of witnessing.
On a walk across the dunes in Northumberland in England this winter, we followed a public footpath that required us to hop a turnstile and enter the pasture of a herd of cattle. I was stunned to find myself in my very own Cuyp moment – the breathtaking light, the cows, the water, the pasture, with nothing to inform me if this was the 17th or 21st century! What a thrill. I feel lucky that I was able to capture and preserve this moment, an art history souvenir that I will treasure.
After a couple of weeks of being sun-starved by cloudy and rainy December in England, we were treated to a spectacular sun-drenched walk on a beach in Northumberland on New Year’s Day. It can be quite cold and very windy as evidenced by this wind-sculpted tree, and this day was no exception. The wind tossed the dune grasses this way and that, and it made the loose sand on the beach take flight and form sand waves before our eyes. We tucked into natural windbreaks carved out by the dunes to be fortified by flasks of tea and coffee, and a Swedish rolled sandwich of meatballs and coleslaw. Some made sandcastles, others played hide-and-seek in the dunes, some took pictures, some walked the flat beach admiring the patterns in the sand – by the end of the day we were all exhausted by the blinding sun and constant wind, but we were energized and satisfied, and it was a great way to welcome a new year.