ViewRanger meets Nicholas Leigh, a Cumbrian artist whose 1930s-inspired oil paintings are showcasing the Lake District landscape like never before.
Where did your love of the Lake District originate?
I was lucky enough to have grown up in this area, and have always enjoyed being surrounded by these beautiful landscapes. I used to walk in the fells a little when younger, then I discovered fell-running and climbing which really takes you into the heart of the lakes – then there was no stopping me!
What makes the Lakeland landscape so visually appealing?
The good thing about living in the area is you get to see the fells and lakes in all seasons, and at all times of day. I love the fleeting effects of weather and light on these rugged hills.
Your paintings are very unique! Where did the idea come from?
Thanks! I was inspired by 1930s railway posters, I love their style and the drama they bring to places. In this digital age I hope that people really appreciate original paintings.
What process do you go through to create each painting?
I like to work from the landscape, from places I visit while out in the hills. I use sketches and photographs, then work on the originals in my studio, drawing on ideas from the old posters. I use oil paints which I think have the most vivid colours.
Does the notorious Cumbrian weather make things tricky?
Haha, when “researching” (read enjoying days out in the fells!) the rain and clouds can come in quickly and often do, but that's usually when you get the most dramatic Lakeland scenes. Although sometimes there is a bit of artistic licence needed for paintings with blue skies!
Do you have plans to expand the collection outside of Cumbria?
Yes, actually, I’m currently working on some scenes from Yorkshire, which is another landscape I love. So watch this space…
How does using Viewranger help you with your work?
I love the Viewranger app. I’m a pretty good navigator and have my Mountain Leader award, but still this app has saved me a few times when it gets really misty or dark. Also it’s just the pure enjoyment of using it, like when out on a long day in the fells and you just want to be taking in the amazing scenery instead of burying your head in the map all the time. With ViewRanger you can just relax and know where you’re heading so quickly.
What are your hobbies when you aren’t painting?
I am a keen fell-runner and am out on the fells as much as possible. I enjoy kayaking on lakes and coastal areas, and have used Viewranger to navigate around the islands on Loch Lomond in Scotland before, which worked a treat! I also like to climb and mountain bike, anything outdoors really.
And finally, what’s your favourite Lakeland Walk?
Ahh, so many to choose from! For me the Coniston fells take some beating. There are so many route options and I asked my wife to marry me on Coniston Old Man (in the pouring rain of course!).
You can view Nicholas Leigh’s unique collection of Lakeland paintings and order prints at www.nicholasleigh.co.uk