We have been getting some decent weather of late, even though it has got colder. On Saturday it was still warm enough to get on the bike and do some more outdoor painting. My plan was to attempt more complex subjects – subjects I would normally attempt in the studio. The one above is of a small bridge over a drainage ditch. I liked the counterchanges from light to dark and back again. In the end I had to to the railings in gouache when I got home – as I didnt take any with me. Whilst the gouache was out I added some stalks and grasses on the near bank. Despite the austere subject it made an interesting painting and might be worth doing bigger.
The next subject was daffodils in a small coppice. The flowers were away from the trees, but I wanted to use the darker trunks as a foil for the flowers. Normally I would use masking fluid, but outside, without any, I had to work around the flowerheads. I find daffodils difficult at the best of times because the yellow isnt a very imposing colour. In hindsight I should have pushed the flowers back further against the trees and used the contrast for all it was worth and, at the same time, reduced the complexity of the background – but that is what sketching is about – working out the best options.
Whilst I sat working on this picture, at the edge of the wood, a hare came slowly towards me. It got to within about 5 feet. I wanted to photograph it, but reaching for the camera would have disturbed it. In the end it realised I was there and bolted off into the woods.
Back on the bike and into the morning sunshine. This is a cottage on Plex Moss Lane. Further down the lane I stopped on a grass verge and did these farm buildings across the fields,
They had an incongruousness about them – a ramshackle collection of buildings.
A few days later I ventured down another, parallel, lane that crosses the moss and here are (above) some of the same buildings I painted in the previous image: the two buildings on the right of the painting of the farm across the fields.
And finally I love this cluster of buildings, half in and half out of the shadows with posts and cables sprinkled about – although the barn on the right looks like it could be subsiding.
There might be some things worth working up into a proper painting. It’s certainly good to get out again into the morning sun and the cycle ride gives me some exercise.
Rose cottage seems a misnomer for a farm complex, but that’s what Google said it was when I checked it out. Actually, it wasnt the farm that initially attracted me – though the building acted as a superb foil – it was the gloriously yellow rape seed growing in the field in front, with the illuminated spring foliage on the trees. That was what made me take a photo or two on one of my recent cycle rides.
With Boris’ latest edict I might now get back to painting outside in the coming days – though the temperature has taken a nosedive of late which is a hindrance, as I am too impatient to wait too long for paint to dry; not advisable with watercolours.
Another view from my cycle outing on Monday morning across the Moss situated behind Southport, north of Liverpool. The single track lane shuffles across the reclaimed marshland, dodging the scattered farms. The tilled fields ready to sprout barley, cabbages, carrots and potatoes.
I thought that I would do this on a half imperial sheet, rather than the quarter sheets I’ve been using recently.
On Monday morning I decided to try and lift the lethargy I described in the previous post, by getting out on my bike and seeking out new material. Normally I would have taken my painting gear, as it was a bright, if blustery morning, but I felt that that might upset the locals, so I put a camera in my pocket instead, and headed off along Plex Moss Lane – the lane defined by the posts in the watercolour above, past the farm you can see, and across Halsall Moss. Taking pictures as I went.
The land rises as you come off the Moss and there was a line of trees.
I did this one in pastel, of the trees bursting into leaf.
And I got a few more images that I can work up during lockdown.
As well as collecting images, a trip like this also allows you to pick out some possible places to paint when life does return to normal. I can waste a lot of time finding an interesting subject when I go out. If I have a few possibilities in mind before I set out it can set me off in a much better frame of mind when I settle down to paint.
There isnt much across the moss – drained marshland behind the coastal dunes. Even less when the lowland is blanketed with mist and all you can see is a ghostly tree and a row of staggering poles. This was done with loose washes and then a bit of drybrush in the foreground.
Another one in the series of paintings I’m not happy with since I first did them. In this version I hope I adequately captured the chill mist you get in autumn on the low lying reclaimed marshlands. The switchback road, the tilting poles and the scrubby verge which falls away into a deep ditch, all contribute to a feeling of other worldliness where some bring the ghosts in their heads and give them free rein.
In the late rush for replacement paintings to populate the exhibition, I reworked this image which I posted a few years ago. I tried to better meld the buildings with the landscape and simplify the foreground to enhance the feeling of stillness. Whether I did or not, who’s to say, but it’s up on the wall now and a feeling of calm has descended upon my studio allowing a tidy-up for the second time.
Temperature inversions on the low lying land behind Southport causes mist to hover in the morning. The fields drop because of the drainage, but the buildings and roads remain at their original height on their foundations – well most of the time – so you see buildings and roadside trees popping up like figures in a mirage surrounded by haziness.
Another from my early morning ramblings. It was around here later that my tyre got punctured and I was faced with a 3 mile walk home when I found out that my repair outfit wasn’t complete and I didn’t have a spare tube. I suppose that’s what can happens on your first outing of the year. I think I’m more organised now – even had the bike serviced.