Inspired by Aelbert Cuyp, My Very Own “Cuyp Moment”

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Cuyp Moment by Diana Pappas

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.

Cuyp Moment is available as a print here.

Fish and chips and a walk on the beach

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Fish and Chips

Having married into an English family, I am happily adopting my husband’s traditions, tastes and favorite things like Yorkshire Tea(with milk only, no sugar) and football (soccer).  I’ve even learned some basic translations so I can speak British English when I’m overseas: thermos = flask, backyard = garden, fries = chips, chips = crisps, dinner = tea, dessert = pudding, and so on! One tradition I find myself craving today is that of a blustery, brisk walk on a cold beach followed by a well-earned feast of piping-hot fish and chips with a side of mushy peas, of course, and a pot of tea. The walk and the meal complement each other so perfectly! We’ve had some great fish and chips in England, most notably at The Magpie in Whitby, but also at the Waterford Arms in Seaton Sluice (pictured above, prints available in my Etsy shop). The walk on this particular September day was a real treat, blinding sunshine and some lovely cloud formations. Looking forward for my next walk along the North Sea followed by fish and chips!

Seaton Sluice

Dune Bouquet: dried wildflowers on a dune in Northumberland

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Dried Bouquet by Diana Pappas

I’d like to share this bouquet of dried English wildflowers with you, captured on a dune along the North Sea in England. Even though the flowers were dried up and past their prime, I was drawn to the egg-yolk centers that remained. It’s a great color, isn’t it? Warm and golden, as if the flowers were still holding on to that summer sun. Does anyone out there know what kind of flowers these are? I’d love to know!

Windswept

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Windswept by Diana Pappas

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.

Prints of Windswept, above, are available in my Etsy shop.

Dunes by Diana Pappas

Sand Wind by Diana Pappas