Last week we stayed in a cottage in Settle on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. In the main the weather was overcast, particularly in the morning when I went out to sketch. Towards the afternoon and evening the sun broke through the clouds. Here is a sketch from, memory, of a view I saw as we drove back from a walk in Hawes – another Dales’ village. High on the moorland these isolated farmhouses dotted the road and as we climbed the hill the silhouette of the buildings stood out against a break in the clouds.
I did another version, even more sparsely:
This was at a stage before I started to add detail and ruin it.
Because of the flat light my morning sketches disappointed me. I was also hindered by drizzle and inquisitive cows which nearly trampled over my painting gear.
The middle sketch above shows similarities to the first sketches, except that the building was a small electricity substation. I sat balanced on a dry-stone wall painting it, packing in when a light drizzle started to fall.
I took the opportunity to play around with colour on this painting of a country lane close to Little Crosby. Blocks of discrete colour arranged according to tone. In the shadows it allowed some quite diverse and strange selections which added punch and when completed, surprisingly, looked quite natural.
I was also pleased with the feeling of light I achieved which reflected the the bright summer’s evening with the wheat ripening in the field beyond.
The process is quite time consuming. Normally I can cover big areas with quick brushstokes – but not on this one. The methodology slowed me down and made me consider the placement of colour more analytically.
I added the dogwalker at the end as an afterthought, subsuming them into the landscape as I had been that day, painting in the evening light.
I had previously mentioned a number of paintings I have been struggling with of late and this is one of them. It started out as an evocation to lush swaying grassland but the final result left me unsatisfied. Instead of getting the gesso out and starting again I thought I could use the movement I had created and so pressed on to bring it to this, its latest manifestation. It’s taken on a topographical feel – like the view you might get moments before impact. So here it rests in my studio – at least I feel more satisfied now.
And whilst on the subject of reworking here are a couple more paintings I’ve shown of late having undergone further tweaking. Firstly, Early Crops Under Clieves Hills: