This evening was the first one of the year that has been warm enough for me to sit on the hill and paint without hypothermia setting in. Even so, I’ve been trying to go and paint up there in recent weeks, putting up with the numb and freezing limbs that inevitably result. There is something so tempting about the last hour or so of golden sun that lights up the hills with a bright red glow. A recent conversation with a fellow painter from far away led to the revelation that my landscapes remind her almost of another planet. She doesn’t know this area though, and the fact that it sometimes resembles Mars, particularly when the red glow begins to brighten.
Having become an expert at hiding from the public while painting (I am unable to talk and paint and am envious of those who can – it seems a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time …) it may be difficult to spot the plein air painter’s kit, let alone the painter, in the immensity of the fells.
On the evening when these photos were taken I had been reading a book about David Bomberg and, from looking at the illustrations for the umpteenth time, had realised that there was a similarity of process between his charcoal drawings and his paintings. I decide to paint as if I was drawing just to see what would happen and this picture was the result.
I’ve added the next photo because Andi asked me why there are strange bleached-looking wave forms in the foregrounds of some of my paintings. I think you can see them in the photograph – they are particularly noticeable in front of the painting kit. These are the waves of pale, wind-blasted and sculpted, bleached reedy grass that translate into the more abstract forms in some of my landscapes, like the one below. Who knows, maybe no-one else can see them but me??
Out on the hill, as the painting comes to its conclusion, there is always enough light left to enjoy being alone in the stillness, with just birds (and sometimes curious sheep) for company. Then the day starts to disappear, mist drifts in from the sea and it starts to get cold. It’s time to move.