In my previous blog I showed the church at Lydiate which I passed on my recent walk. This is the start of that walk.The low winter’s afternoon sun picking out the fence wires and forcing shadows across the path and field caught my attention. I also liked the bare oaks leaning away from the prevailing wind. Enough, I thought, to try a painting. So here it is.
We have been having some unseasonably warm weather of late and last Saturday the sun came out as well. I almost gathered the paints together to grasp the last opportunity, this year, to do some open air painting – almost ( I dont mind the cold – I just lack the temprement to wait for paint to dry) Besides, it was well into the afternoon, so, instead, I grabbed the camera and cycled off to the local woods at Ainsdale, which back onto the dunes and shoreline,
At this time of the year, with bright sunlight, the birches glow yellow and gold, almost like lightbulbs against the dark foliage of the firs behind. I then came across this copse of birches that pressed the footpath, before it opened out onto a clearing. The shadows cast by the trees, like fingers of darkness tugging at the remnants of the day.
I had to paint it and I thought I might try a small series of paintings from my ride that afternoon – so there may be more coming.
I worked this up from a recent sketch which I posted here week or so ago. I’m not sure whether this moves on much from that sketch. What I loved, though, was the reddish hue against the deep greens and the glimpses of light at the far end of the clearing. I tried to go in loose with dark greens over the first red wash used for the tree trunks. Then I built up tones to give depth and texture.
After the Christmas indolence, a walk was proposed. Organising a walk in our family can require diplomatic skills far beyond my capabilities. My wife wanted to walk by the canal which meant we wouldnt get lost and me get angry at the lack of signage. She also reckoned that it wouldnt be too muddy. My daughter didnt want to go too far to get to the walk and I wanted to go somewhere to see some different scenery. I think my daughter’s partner would have preferred to stay put.
I selected a route which, I hoped, met all the specifications. After an early lunch, waiting for the rain to subside, we set off. There was a low winter light which gave great contrasts and shadows and suited me well.
We came up a low hill to a wooded area where there is a derelict Chapel, originally built in the 1500s. The farmland surrounding the site was waterlogged and had lovely glistening puddles made by tractor ruts. With the light illuminating the grass of our footpath and the puddle reflecting the post and trees I thought it might make a great subject to paint even though it is a bit on the dark side.
We completed the walk without getting lost, though the canal tow-path did prove to be the muddiest part of it.
A view from my recent walking holiday in Portugal. We had been on the top of the sea cliffs for most of the day when the path turned inland, into a wooded area. It twisted and turned and came out along the edge of a field with the trees on one side. Walking along, I spotted this gap in the trees, revealing the coastline and sea.
I was well ahead of the group and contemplated the opportunity for a quick painting. So I entered the half lit glade looking for a spot to settle down. As I dropped my rucksack I heard rustling off to the left. There was a guy in the wood moving around. Not sure what he was up to, I took a few photos, picked up my bag and headed on my way on the path alongside the field.
The path dropped down the high ridge towards a river which I knew we had to traverse. As I sat on the banks waiting for the rest of the group, the man in the woods came down and waded the shallow river. Perhaps I had spooked him as much as he had done me.
Wednesday was a sunny day so I cycled out to get some more information for a painting I was planning. This park was close to my area of interest, so I stopped by and I couldnt resist this contra jour scene of the old Victorian gatehouse to the park and the people enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
Outside our house, along the road, are sycamore trees and against a bright blue sky they recently displayed a vitality I felt compelled to capture in paint. They looked good, despite the problem of all the seeds that come down with the leaves, leaving me with a year-long task of uprooting seedlings as they emerge.
Now, after a few autumn gales, the title should be Fell – but the display was good whilst it lasted, though I notice bunches of seed heads still hanging onto the otherwise bare trees, taunting me with their presence.
Looking over recent output I realised I hadnt done a pastel in a while, so here is another view of the River Wear, in Durham. This one was glimpsed as I was hurrying past to do some painting in fields alongside the river, downstream. I suppose I could have done this scene, but it would have meant sitting in the road – and whenever I do that a lorry or tractor comes along, so I took a few photos and proceeded onwards.
I was struck by the light on the grasses and foliage which made them stand out against the shadows and reflections of the trees. I did some thumbnails of this and decided on a portrait format, but now its done perhaps a landscape format would be better.
In this painting I blocked in the darks with acrylics before starting out on the pastels. It does save a lot of time, and pastel, getting variegated darks in with paint and gives a great base to build up texture.
I`m working on a commission at present so here are a couple of paintings I did a while ago but didnt get around to posting. This one above is from a set of photos taken earlier in the year when it was too cold to paint outside – well for an impatient wimp like me who spends sunny, summer mornings waving paintings in the warm air getting the washes to dry.
I had posted an earlier version of these autumnal birches in our local woods, but decided to have another go. Lots of spraying and splattering, but not much progress. It seemed to go downhill from the start with a pallid sky which I had hoped to to use to accentuate the warm autumn oranges.
As winter draws to its cruel close I came upon this view over the Brede Valley in East Sussex. It was from a dark photo, into the sun, looking over a church cemetery – where some of my maternal family are buried, and on into the valley beyond. I liked the skeletal tree and added another on the right. I lightened the foreground up and created some rough ground instead. Winter coming to an end.
The creation of the branches was a therapeutic exercise, with rain thrashing the window and a spot of Bach on the stereo. It filled a wet morning perfectly.