Saturday, 18 October 2014

Into the woods ...

Well it has been another busy week with a couple of particularly crazy days, but more of that later. 

In the meantime, as it was yet another lovely shorts day - ie warm enough for me to be wearing shorts in mid October (!) Charlie and I went for a walk in the woods opposite the cottage and I took my sketchbook and watercolour box along.

And this is the result:

I always find when I'm painting from life that at the moment I am doing it I am very critical of what is appearing on the paper, but actually when I look back an hour later I'm quite pleased with the result.  It's almost as if one has to gain some objectivity by stepping back from the image and revisiting it when you are no longer in the throes of creating it. This one took about 30 minutes, could have done with a thicker pen (I never use pencil, I like the fact that pen means you can't retract the line once you've made it so you just have to work with it) and I'm a bit low on my indigo pan colour (I never use black paint, black pen yes but never black paint, old habit from art school and I am a natural colourist - ooh Ken Kiff RA said that to me many years ago, I was so thrilled) but it's not bad.

For many years I did no drawing from life until I did a part-time MA in children's book illustration at Cambridge School of Art from 2009-12.  In fact my interest in children's books wained but what did blossom was my love of drawing in the landscape, in particular trees and buildings. So I have embarked on a series of watercolours of chateaux and treescapes in France over the last year.  You can see some of these on my website at

As Turner and Constable, the trailblazers in painting en plein air discovered, it is so important to actually be in the landscape, to experience the atmosphere and one feelings and emotions of being in the place at the particular time, engaging with the elements around one and the scene before you. Can't beat that even if it is a bit windy and rainy sometimes.

I did this painting, Les Noyers prés de Sorges at Easter this year on a very blustery morning in early April, with rain spitting at me as I sat by the road up from the cottage where I now live. The day might have been grey, but the little walnut trees stretched across the field just waiting to burst into life looked to me like little ladies, taking their positions on a ballroom floor ready to commence the dance.

No comments: