'Drawn to the Mountains' Exhibition - Originals by Graham McKenzie-Smith

Graham McKenzie Smith


Graham has created five originals for the 'Drawn to the Mountains' Exhibition taking place throughout October/November in our new gallery space 'Up the Stairs' above Cherrydidi Keswick.


Graham has over 20 years experience working with his artistic skills in areas such as murals, trompe l’oeil, design and photography and has recently returned to his roots in traditional art.

Although based in Scotland, Graham has always had a strong connection with Cumbria having climbed most of the mountains and owning a holiday lodge near Penrith.

This has allowed him to build a library of inspirational images which he uses as source material for his recent works. Indeed, even his preferred medium is the Cumbrian made Derwent Graphite pencil, though he has also recently been working with pen and charcoal, as well as exploring digital painting techniques.

His preference is for monotone pictures where the shades and textures work together with high detail so that the viewer spends time with his drawings rather than moving quickly on from a punchy image. Although his style can appear traditional, he often incorporates his own unique stamp, be it an unusual viewpoint or feature.

He has created a collection of five graphite and colour pencil originals for the Drawn to the Mountain exhibition.

'Ashness Lights' - Graphite and colour pencil - 18 x x25” (32 x 24” framed). Ashness Bridge, just above Derwent Water, is a famed spot in the Lake District and popular with artists and photographers alike with its quaint stonework and the sight of Skiddaw beyond. It’s such a calm setting which may have inspired me to show it in contrast with a magnificent display of the Northern lights. Either way, I loved the bold greens and blues against the dark tones of the stonework and rocks. 

'Little Langdale Aglow' - Graphite and colour pencil - 40 x 32cm (23 x 20” framed”). My fondness of moonlight and night lights is in full force in this well known scene at the start of Little Langdale. I love the interplay of light and dark in pictures like these and graphite pencils are superb at catching the different tones and textures.

'Rydal Shadows' - Graphite and colour pencil - 42 x 30 cm (20 x 16” framed). The main road through the central lakes curves around Rydal Water giving some of the best views in the area. I’ve often been taken by the shadows on a bright day and drew this as a memory of that oft seen light glistening on the water. The empty road is obviously not during the peak tourist season!

'The Morning After'Graphite and colour pencil - 42 x 30 cm (20 x 16” framed) - The title does not refer to a night of revel but to the particular early light that comes after a stormy night. My style of work is to “paint” with pencils rather than focussing on detailed illustrations and this drawing shows that well. I mix colour and graphite so that the viewer is not simply awed by bold colours but taken by the atmosphere of minimal colours and tones. I could create that with paint but I find graphite pencils are lable to produce a better mix of tomes and textures.

'Catbells in Fall'Graphite and colour pencils - 42 x 30 cm (20 x 16” framed). Catbells is the curious name of the hill at the edge of Derwent Water, seen here from Friar’s Crag near Keswick. Autumn is probably my favourite season in the Lake District  when the trees turn to their glorious shades of reds, oranges, yellows and gold. The contrast of these colours against a grey day is a delight to someone with my artistic eye.


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