I am looking back at my creative year and goal setting for 2017. This is helping me keep track of the way my work is trending. I’m very keen to work at contemporary landscape this year and with this in mind, took numerous photos of one of our daily views which I titled ‘The Lone Tree’ – actually an isolated clump of trees on a large hill, or barrow. The site is called Brightwater Barrow and it is next to Wittenham Clumps.
My format for this series will probably all be square with a ‘Big Sky’. I wanted the sky to be more expressive, so I painted a series of watercolours 38cm x 38cm of dramatic skies. Below is the same tree from the other side in the evening.
I drive past Ardington fields on one of my shopping routes and kept driving past, waiting for the harvest to be baled. And then just after harvesting, it rained and the sky was a dull grey. Suddenly at sunset the sun emerged and we rushed over to take photos. There was a mackerel sky…
and the next day the bales had been taken to the barn. Below is a view from a different angle with sunny sky culled from another photo.
Two smaller studies – one of the harvest fields in Dorchester and one of a cloudy weather in France, both 19cm x 19cm.
I looked through some photos from our holiday in Lindisfarne in 2014 and tried to recapture the strange late afternoon winter sunlight between storms.
If you are a landscape artist living in Oxfordshire, Wittenham clumps (my painting of the clumps is still going to happen), Brightwater Barrow and the White Horse are all obligatory. Paul Nash (1889 – 1946) painted all these views and of course mine pale in comparison. There is an exhibition of his work at Tate Britain at the moment and I’m off to visit it on Wednesday.
For our wedding anniversary in September, we walked up to The White Horse of Uffington, an enormous Bronze Age chalk horse carved onto the hillside – . I did some scrappy sketches (in the wind) and took many photos. In the aerial view of the horse, the X marks the spot from which my painting is taken.
So, now I have some material for my paintings. I am looking at lots of contemporary landscapes in oils by other artists and am torn between luscious glazing filled with subtlety or wild impasto palette knife paintings. I may even try to compromise with a mix.
I know I’d like to do lots of small palette knife and impasto paintings and I have completed my first one. You can see the photo of the scene. I painted the fourth view from life, while sitting at my son’s table in their home in Sweden, looking out over the Baltic.
It had snowed the day after we arrived and by the time I did the painting, the snow was melting; nevertheless, the sea was turning to ice. It looks like a lake, but it really is the sea because Sweden is an archipelago.
I was a bit daunted by the snow view, (so many whites) but also found the melting snow view that I painted, really tricky because of all the detail of the bare trees. The sunset has lovely tonal masses, but a) Sunsets can look so twee and b) It’s hard to paint under artificial light and sunsets are fleeting. This is the far North, and it was only 3.30pm.
This is just a beginning. It was my third attempt at this view and you can see that I am developing the technique of heavy impasto and palette knife work. I think 2017 is going to be really exciting. Thank you for patiently following my 2016 artistic journey.
I’d like to wish you a wonderfully creative year, good health and prosperity.