Tag Archives: plein air

Valley of Bad Paintings

I have a favourite valley for painting. It’s near enough that I can dash there on a summer’s evening, and it’s almost guaranteed that no-one else will be walking there. Most of the time, I go there with my dog. We investigate things: streams and rocks, mainly. Sometimes we just sit, or even lie down on the springy mossy ground. In the winter, it can be a bit snow drifty, and it’s often hidden in mist.  Once as I walked right to the end (it’s a blind ending valley – the only way out is very steeply up) the mist lifted now and again to reveal the vast shoulder of the valley wall opposite. The mist makes things look even more huge than they really are. That valley wall loomed at me, towering up in a way that seemed impossible. It was quite exciting, and very still and quiet.

For some reason, although I love the valley, I can’t paint it. I tried painting there, perched high up on one side watching stormy clouds advancing towards me. It felt thrilling, but the resulting paintings were a bit crude.

oil painting on canvas, Darkness in Crosdale

Darkness in Crosdale, oil on canvas, 6x8

oil painting on canvas, Crosdale storm

Crosdale storm, oil on canvas, 6x8

On a strangely sunny evening a couple of weeks ago, I rushed out because the light was richly golden and I thought it might be hitting the side of my valley. Luckily, it lit up the hills even more when I arrived with my paints, and I tried to capture how it felt, sitting high up alone and looking at the vivid colours all around me.

oil painting on canvas, Crosdale

Crosdale, oil on canvas, 6x8

photo of dog above Crosdale

climbing out of Crosdale

Cliff walk and fells of home

This painted drawing, even though it looks fairly carefully made, was created while sitting on the edge of a cliff during an arduous two-day walk. The mysterious Maidens, strange rock women, seem to move around in the background while the nearer cliffs loom. I think the composition should translate into a really dramatic large painting, in colour.

watercolour sketch of cliff walk view

cliffs and Maidens, watercolour on paper, 12x12 inches, crop

Another painting made on the same walk – not sure if it was the same day, but I remember the sun was shining as I sat by this burn that plummeted down to the sea.

watercolour painting of Dibidal gorge

Dibidal gorge, watercolour on paper, 12x12, crop

A small painted sketch of hills nearer home. Something in the pattern created by the field boundaries and the shapes of the hills is intriguing, and at least part of that pattern needs to become a larger picture, I think.

oil painting of hills and fields

hills and fields, oil on card