another winter stuck out in the sticks; or how i have endeavoured to evoke a fleeting sense of this winter landscape, in pictures.
what follows are some of my small sketchbook paintings (on paper) from the months of january and february.
[flooded corner of a field, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 7" x 10"]
these small paintings will probably mean very little to those who do not live or work in the countryside, but perhaps to some of those who do, it might look slightly familiar: of dreary rain-drenched days, the flustering blustering wind which blows this way and that, or the earthy dampness of a foggy grey morning, the veil of mist or frost on fields, or days when the air is piercing and clear, freezing the landscape into a tundra-like quietude.
i am always drawn towards the skyline, where a thicket of skeleton trees or the raggedy fringe of a hedgerow meets the open skies.
and how, at this wintry time of year when this landscape seems even more bleak, earth and sky are still ever-changing in their hues (because of the weather)… on a bright winter’s afternoon when an expanse of dark brown field turns a shade of rippled bronze, or when a sulky leaden sky flattens the mired landscape with a melancholic hue.
[dimly dusk, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 5" x 7"]
[rain on the marsh, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 7" x 10"]
it is also curious how the rural landscape in winter can give a [false] sense of being in a wilderness, because there are few houses, and in these modern times, very few people are needed to work this agricultural land.
this landscape can appear desolate at times.
[remains of snow, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 5" x 7"]
it’s always the little things that catch your eye: the vibrancy of green when framed by the gap in a spindly hedge, a puddled corner of a field glinting silver in the low sun, or the last traces of snow melting in the long shadows… insignificant, transient things.
anyone who cares to notice might want to tell you about these incidental things, never mind trying to take a picture…
[snow melting, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 5" x 7"]
[shingle hill, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 7" x 10"]
each painting ’sketch’ took about fifteen minutes, so cumulatively this amounts to only three hours of field work.
here, inside the pages of a sketchbook (or two), i was aiming to express, very loosely in paint, what the rural landscape looks and feels like on some days in winter, from observation, memory and experience. everyone will have their own point of view: nothing really changes, every day it changes.
it is interesting that buildings and people (or animals) do not interest me here, so perhaps i was only looking to seek that elemental sense of a wilderness in winter, isolating the isolation, finding solace in the solitude.
this is what i find myself returning to at odd moments when it seems i have made little headway in my other work. i hope one day to get better at expressing the thoughts and ideas in my head…
Where little pictures idly tells
Of nature’s powers & nature’s spells,
I felt and shunned the idle vein,
Laid down the pen and toiled again
[John Clare, The Progress of Rhyme]