Tag Archives: snow

another winter, in pictures

Friday 1 March 2013

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 field landscape sketch painting

[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.

winter landscape sketchbook paintings

[sketchbook paintings]

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.

dark dusk field hedgerow sketchbook painting

[dimly dusk, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 5″ x 7″]

marsh rain landscape painting sketch

[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.

winter landscape sketchbook paintings

[sketchbook paintings]

remains of snow field landscape painting

[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…

suffolk winter landscape painting sketch

[snow melting, sketchbook painting, acrylic on paper, 5″ x 7″]

 field hill landscape sketch painting

[sketchbook paintings]

winter landscape sketchbook paintings

[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]

on landscape photography

Monday 26 September 2011

these landscape photographs have all appeared in previous posts, from 2005-2010 (part of an ongoing recycle & reuse images whenever possible philosophy due to the sheer number of images accumulated). i decided to collate this small selection of photographs of the east anglian landscape in one ‘place’ as it were as a simple means of a personal review, having been lost & buried elsewhere in the ‘blog’. these photographs were all taken from a humble point ‘n’ shoot perspective. there is the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words but here the apparent air of mundane detachment or plain objectivity contained therein means they are perhaps unworthy of many words…

suffolk fields, old airfield, passing place sign
[a field, a ‘passing place’ sign]

from previous post: passing places part ii may 2006

old airfield, overgrown by fields, suffolk
[edge of old airfield, with rubble]

from previous post: beware of banality december 2005

suffolk fields, old airfield, passing place sign
[old airfield track and fields, a misty winter morning]

from previous post: farmscape painting february 2010

[field, late afternoon]

from previous post: on vacant and empty landscapes april 2010

[stubble field in winter, with ground frost, norfolk]

from previous post: some secrets revealed november 2010

on a train, passing through the fens, winter fields
[fields, seen from a train, the fens, winter]

from previous post: passing places april 2006

[misty morning by the lake, winter]

from previous post: mist opportunties again may 2010

[early morning mist, reflection of trees in lake water]

from previous post: winter solstice december 2009

[high snow drift, a field, two trees and a farmhouse, winter]

from previous post: from white snow to grey earth january 2010

[snow on ground, meadows, ditch, late afternoon light, winter]

from previous post: walking, in winter, wander land december 2009

[hoarfrost on trees next to the lake]

from previous post: the art of making soup january 2009

winter field, misty morning
[field, early morning, winter]

from previous post: mist opportunities january 2010

[the north sea, a view from dunwich cliffs, suffolk]

from previous post: on vacant and empty landscapes april 2010

[covehithe cliffs, suffolk]

from previous post: on vacant and empty landscapes april 2010

[salthouse marshes, north norfolk]

from previous post: salthouse surveyed march 2009

[on southwold beach, the north sea]

from previous post: two pebbles, a drawing october 2009

i used to take quite a few landscape photographs but i have not been very inclined to do so in more recent times. these landscape photographs seem no more ‘vital’ to me now than having just a memory of the time, place or location to draw upon. perhaps it is just photography fatigue. not only does it become all to easy (with digital cameras) to take yet another photograph but one feels simultaneously guilty for not taking a photograph, for not framing the moment as witnessed there and then. then, much later, one wonders whether it should be kept or erased, whether it has any lasting use, significance or meaning.

from previous post: taking the scenic route april 2009

to swiftly conclude, here is a photograph (not really a ‘landscape’ per se) of a lone seagull on a roof in the pleasant seaside town of aldeburgh, suffolk – all appears to be quite innocent, peaceful and calm…

‘thinking should be done beforehand and afterwards, never while actually taking the photograph.’

henri cartier-bresson (as quoted in on photography, susan sontag)

snowbound in a sketchbook, once again

Sunday 5 December 2010

it was the early morning shock of seeing a thin film of ice on the inside of the windows that prompted a couple of snowy walkabouts this week… for some exercise, some fresh air, to warm up, an excuse perhaps to think more about and reconnect with this rural landscape…

suffolk snow landscape painting - sketchbook

a hill and some snow, acrylic on paper, 8″ x 12″

i carried with me a sketchbook (or three!) but, for a change, i took some small tubes of acrylic and a few offcuts of card. why on earth go out sketching in this inclement weather? well, the intention was to go for a bracing walk and the opportunity to do some outdoor sketching seemed like a good idea at the time… i just needed some white, brown, blue, a little yellow ochre… (you can view last week’s before the snow winter field sketches here)…

these three small sketches are about 5″ x 16″

suffolk snow landscape field - sketchbook

suffolk snow sketches - sketchbook

suffolk snow fields horizon - sketchbook

[click to view larger]

i discovered a new footpath which i had not seen signposted before, perhaps because all the surrounding vegetation that would have concealed it had died back. some farmers, it seems, don’t like to draw attention to the public rights of way that circumnavigate their fields. this particular footpath began at the roadside – it was a quick scramble up a steepish, stepped incline through a small thicket of elder, hawthorn, briar, bramble and the like, which soon thinned out onto a small footbridge across a ditch, which opened into the corner of a large field – regimental stalks of harvested maize pricking through the blanket of snow..

suffolk field snow landscape sketch

winter field with stubble, 8′ x 22″

i walked a narrow path between the hedgerow and the broken lines of sown crops, minding the occasional black hole which indicated a rabbit burrow. in the snow i could see the pitter-patter pattern of animal footprints, probably a dog i thought but i could see no human companion footprints –  were they the trail of a hare, a fox or muntjacs perhaps? the hedgerow seemed to have shaken off most of the recent snowfall and so it exhibited an interesting patchwork of textures and colours when viewed against the snow – from the sepia hues of damp, dead wood to the musty grey-black of dead nettles, small patches of fading green to grey, the auburn brown of tall docks, shades of bronze and tarnished copper on the edges of leaves, the prickly hawthorn branches dotted with red berries…

suffolk snow field hedgerow - sketchbook

field and hedgerow, acrylic on paper, 8″ x 12″

the line of the hedgerow led slowly uphill, then turned an abrupt corner at an oak tree – and hereabouts, sheltered from the chilled midday air with a scattered carpet of acorn husks underfoot, it afforded a clear view of valley ahead. smooth white fields, lightly traced out by their boundary hedgerows, sloped gently to the south and east, a distant cluster of trees merged into a mist of many layered greys. to the north the field’s straight crop lines seemed to converge at a point near the flat horizon, with only the faintest delineation of trees to suggest where the land ended and the sky began…

snow winter field sketch painting - sketchbook

winter field, acrylic on paper, 8″ x 12″

some people assume that suffolk is, in the main, quite a flat county, but this is because the most travelled routes follow more even ground. walk a little off the beaten track and the vistas become much more undulating and expansive – made even more appealing to the senses when there is snow on the ground. all seems for a short while quite serene, quite still. snow softens the sounds and disguises the blemishes, it sculpts, smoothes and redefines, drawing out the best features of a seemingly natural geography…

perhaps on reflection it was not such a good idea to use acrylics as they did not dry properly in the ice cold air. to stop the sketchbook pages from sticking together i sandwiched them with maize leaves, powdery bark and even clumps of snowy soil, all of which had added some interesting textural effects by the time i had headed back. something of real substance to work with, so i applied more white acrylic here and there, the remains of soil and the blurry smears of paint became the tangible traces of walking. i rather like that they turned out this way, incomplete and unrefined, within each rough gesture or mark is a brief thought or memory that relates to the experience – exhibiting the very spirit of a brisk walk in the wintry, white landscape…

these two sketches are 8′ x 22″, on black card – it is (or was) a photograph album…

field snow landscape sketch

suffolk fields snow - sketchbook

[click to view larger]

so, these small studies have really become remembered landscapes, they no longer exist, the snow has now vanished, but we have been warned that the snow will return…

i often remind myself that i have become something of a cave painter – i see things (discarded, redundant or dead things, mostly!) and then i retreat to the studio cave to make art out of the experience. sketching in the landscape seems to be a means to re-engage but also to step back a little, to take in the wider view…