AN artist and Wainwright fan has combined his two passions in a new book of 1,500 watercolours inspired by the Lakeland fells.

Andy Beck has spent the past 10 years wandering the fells and taking pictures from the exact spots that Wainwright stood for his seven pictorial guides some 60 years ago.


Using those photographs, the 59-year-old has then painted the scenes, and after a decade of work is now releasing The Wainwrights in Colour.

"My wife and I were walking in Wasdale back in 2006," Mr Beck explained. "I was between Red Pike and Pillar and just at a certain spot I turned round to look at the scene and I realised I'd seen it before but in Wainwright's pictorial guide.

"I had my guidebook in my rucksack, got it out and compared it with the view to where I was standing. I must have only been five metres away from where Wainwright had been standing to get his picture. I thought: 'Wouldn't it be interesting to do a watercolour scene of that comparative view,' so I took a photograph and walked on."

By the end of the weekend, Mr Beck had decided he would like to do 'several' of these paintings but it soon 'snowballed'.

"Once you've started doing some it's almost like an addiction and you carry on and do the whole lot," he said. "I didn't realise when I came up with the idea that when you look through all the books there's 1,500, excluding route maps."

Mr Beck, who lives in Bowes, Teesdale, does not have any formal training as an artist other than one O Level in art - he said that he was just a 'guy with an idea'.

"I joined the Royal Air Force and was there for 12 years," he explained. "When I was in that, I was carrying on painting because I loved to paint and sketch.

"In 1988 I decided to take a career change after some good response to a little exhibition I'd done in the Cotswolds. I decided to take the plunge and move back up to North Yorkshire and become an artist. If I hadn't come up with the idea then being an artist would have been a real struggle. It's not easy now but the Wainwright project has given me a focus."

During the course of the project, Mr Beck did two rounds of the 214 Wainwright fells and said that he became a true fan as he delved deeper into the guides.

"The sense of achievement of actually standing where Wainwright stood," he said. "Getting to that location - every single time, that was a 'hair stands up on the back of your neck' moment.

"The way Wainwright did it was in his own unique style. There are other people who try to do guidebooks and pen and ink drawings but this was totally unique.

"The intricacy in his work, the detail in his drawings was just pure dedication. I just admire him for the way he did it in his own unique style and I don't think that the original guides can be bettered."

The book will officially launch in May at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal. There will be a limited edition run of 5,000 copies, individually numbered and signed by Mr Beck.

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