David Hockney is known as England's premier painter. He was nearing 70 when this documentary was made in 2004.
Hockney is still extremely productive and always ready to move on to new projects. Leaving behind the swimming pools of California, he returns to the East Yorkshire Wolds where he spent his childhood. His intention is to celebrate this extraordinary English landscape by painting outdoors and catching the changes that come over the place during the four seasons.
Hockney begins by making watercolors of the lush area. He states that he has led a privileged life over the past 40 years doing whatever struck his fancy. At one point, he shares his high regard for Chinese art with its "principle of moving focus" rather than the fixed frame of Western art. Hockney muses on the large role of memory in his art and concludes every artist needs three things to be creative: "the hand, the eye, and the heart."
The Royal Academy invites this busy artist to showcase his Yorkshire landscapes, and we are treated to a look at his preparation for this major exhibition. The final painting turns out to be gigantic -- it scales 50 by 15 feet -- and the painter must take digital shots of each panel and then put all the pieces together in Photoshop to survey the entire work of art. It is more than twice the size of Monet's giant water lily panoramas.
Director Bruno Wollheim does a grand job capturing and conveying the energy, enthusiasm, and brilliance of this septuagenarian master. Hockney has some interesting things to say about art and photography, the importance of the painting styles of the past, the commitment and discipline that is needed to keep creating in a competitive art marketplace, and the humility that is needed when we compare ourselves to the immensity of the natural world.
The DVD includes an hour of bonus material including (1) Hockney at work on Late November Tunnel, (2) leading art figures on Bigger Trees Near Warter, (3) Hockney reflects on art and life, and (4) the making of the documentary.