I have just been lucky enough to travel to Donegal to stay in a cottage by the sea and spend all week painting the spectacular view from the front door. Errigal is the highest mountain in Donegal. When the weather was bad I could paint it from the window. This is a haunting part of the world. Charismatic with an ever changing light. The light not only changed every day but in every part of every day. I began four paintings but ended up concentrating on one. It began on an overcast day and was completed in twenty eight degrees of sunshine when the constant cloud over Donegal lifted. The result is a mixture of all weather.
I am back in residence at The Yorkshire Arboretum after the hurly burly of York Open Studios. It was cold but sunny as I made my way into the woods and everything was lit up. It was like walking into my recent painting 'Wonderland.' It struck me that walking around the Arboretum is like walking into different worlds. At the entrance you are in Ancient Beech land and just over the hill you walk into fruit Blossom land and just before that is the mature Birch circle land. Then there are the sweeping vistas where buttercup hills can be spied, long straight paths and meandering white lanes surrounded by dark mysterious bushes. There are clumps and stalks, round squat rows and tall endless ancients. World upon world of glorious beauty and good company. The company of trees.
This is all preparation, the planning of my next body of work. It is both exciting and frightening. I always wonder how I am going to begin something so immense. How I can possibly do justice in paint to what I see and experience. First I walked and then I took the camera. It was too cold to sit and sketch and whilst I don't approve of working from photographs, a camera is a great resource for contemplating composition. Snapping away enables you to catch the startling effects on landscape of the fleeting English sun. It helps you frame a picture and pick out the images that are strong. Trees that sit together in a particular way in a certain light. I realise that composition is about relationships and juxtapositions, different shapes, strong angles. Gatherings of disparate parts that together are strong enough to make a good story. With this in mind, these are some of my visual insights of the days work and the foundations of the paintings to come.
Life has moved on since the beginning of the Flower Bomb series and my last blog. There was one and now there are five. They were hard won. The making of them extended from the end of winter into Spring so while I was working on these abstract florals I was longing to be out of the studio and into the landscape. Winter work was sneaking into summer. (optimistic I know as we are all still freezing) But nature has proceeded regardless. Suddenly the hot colours inside my studio weren't right as I noticed the gentle brown pinks, greys, lime greens, clean yellows and white blossom of the emerging March landscape outside. It was landscape time and I was still painting florals. I persevered and the resulting paintings were worth it. They are beauties of colour, technique, style and surface.
Colour was not the only way in which I was bringing summer into winter when I was working on these. I now have three flower presses in which to preserve leaves and flowers as they come into season. They are then used as stencils on my winter paintings. So although these are 'inside' paintings as opposed to the plein air landscape, the outside world of fauna and flora is still coming in via my plant press along with the preserve of other seasons.
The depths of winter in England always makes me long for sunny climes and I find exotic tropics begin to emerge in the studio. January in North Yorkshire is HOT. I can’t get enough orange red and fuchsia pink. Lined up in my mind are all the lovely white, black and brown Yorkshire landscapes and bare sculptural trees if I can only tear myself away from the comfort of abstract florals and remembered midsummer Spanish landscapes.
This brings me around to the impact of colour and the fact that it has a mental emotional impact. I think I will bring some of this longing for heat into the winter trees in the Yorkshire Arboretum paintings and the winter landscapes but meanwhile what emerged today was 'Another Land'.