Another painting worked up from my sketchbook and photos in readiness for an exhibition at my framer’s shop. I posted the sketch earlier in the year after doing it. This lane is so typical of the roads which crisscross the moss behind Southport where I live. Rich agricultural land is divided up between deep ditches. I’ve seen a few cars in them, due to driver inattention or intoxication. You dont get out without a crane – always assuming you survive.
The roads – one of which you see here – tend to sink over the years resulting in roller-coaster ride as you drive along them. As I worked on the original sketch a couple of fellows came along on their bikes, past the houses you see, and up towards me. They were also taking advantage of the first good day of spring we had this year. They paused to see what I was up to and I showed them what I was working on. Apparently they had spotted me earlier on a similar lane, as I was painting another view. Now they were now on their way home when our paths crossed again.
On Monday we decided to visit a hill called Rivington Pike. It is on the western edge of the Pennines and is visible from where I live in Southport. I’ve never been there before because, even though it is fairly close, the roads to it aren’t direct. So here is a sketch from the top which will save you the effort of scaling it yourself, even though it is only 1200 ft high. This view points to the direction of Southport, but with the clouds on Monday, you couldnt see too far.
Above is the Pike viewed from Southport on a sunny morning from a painting I posted in January. In the first painting we are sat on the purple point at the top on this view.
The strange building you can see on the first painting is part of Lord Leverhulme’s ( Billy Lever of yore – founder of what is now, Unilever) country getaway, built on the side of the hill in the early twentieth century with ornamental lakes, gardens, bridges and a bungalow; somewhere the poor man could wander around and think undisturbed. This strange, incongruous tower was built for ornamental pigeons and doves that roosted on the first two floors and as a sewing and music room, for his wife, on the top floor. Whether he locked her in there wasn’t revealed. That may have been what he was thinking about – where he had left the key.
When you descend from the pike you go through Lord Leverhulme’s Folly and into a country park. In this park I was taken by the lush, verdant greenness enhanced by the sunshine. I thought that I would pause and paint the path leading down to the carpark. However, once I got started the clouds came over and ruined the dappled effects created by the sun and foliage and trunks of the oak trees which lined the path. I managed to get some of the shadows in on this one.
I suppose this could be worked on a little more, but I took a photo of it to see how it was looking and decided to post it. Apposite as they are opening up shops and other non essential outlets tomorrow in our neck of the woods. However, cafes and pubs can only serve customers outside – so those inside on this painting are mere reflections., and with our weather, those on the outside will soon be wrapping their coats around them – but for now it’s sunny – it could be France – but it’s Parbold.
As practise for future plein air work I did this quickly on the back of an old painting, so I may not have got the proportions of the hill correct. I had an old photo and pretended that I was sat in a field getting it down with the minimum of washes. I also took the opportunity to jazz up the light at the same time. I was pleased with the result and I think the sky helps; along with ignoring a lot of the detail in the landscape. Its something I need to do more out in the field, putting in just enough detail to capture attention, but not getting bogged down.
This is a morning view from Churchtown -part of Southport, where I live, – across the flat Lancashire plain to Rivington Pike and the start of the Pennines. As I paused on my bike on a spring morning, I was taken by the lines of trees and buildings enveloped by the morning mist and the crisp purple line of the hills beyond.
I have also been doing a bit of meddling. I wasnt completely happy with this watercolour – Fall – I put on the blog a while ago. I thought that the tree looked constrained and unnatural so I added some more branches and messed up the lines of the foliage, whilst retaining the blue/orange contrast. It took some scrubbing and scraping of the sky area to get back to clean paper allowing me to achieve the transparency and vibrancy of the new leaves.
Hopefully it has retained the freshness of the original version.
Sitting outside the pub, I was taken by this view of Tarleton – a village to the north of Southport, where I live. We were enjoying some refreshment on a walk along the River Douglas and sat in the afternoon sunshine. It was soon after we spotted the errant geese I painted for the previous blog. Probably one of the last days of summer and now only a distant memory.
I had taken a few photos, so was able to cobble together a wide format painting with the lead-in of the red brick houses, cut with shadows, and the view past the trees to the local church. Pity about the car park on the right, but it was a challenge.