Winter field

Painting the landscape during the present lockdown restrictions reminds me of the accounts of artists working at the time of the first world war just over one hundred years ago, when anyone who was seen wandering in the landscape taking notes, was regarded with deep suspicion and immediately identified as an enemy agent gathering information to help an imminent invasion.

Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) was in Cornwall at the time and later recalled painting ‘Spring’ when she had to “lie on my stomach under a gorse-bush or other convenient bush in dread of being taken off to prison, to make a line or two in a sketchbook, memorise – rush back to my studio and paint.”

There is a similar feeling that wandering through the landscape during one’s daily exercise, making a line or two in a sketchbook, is still regarded as suspicious behaviour and must certainly mean one is up to no good and must be given a wide berth at all costs.

Luckily, given the weather conditions, I did not have to find a gorse-bush to lurk under in order to draw some lines for ‘Winter field’ (below), but stopped the car in an unusually convenient field gateway on my way home from a legitimate local journey – and the only person I met was a young lady upon a fine horse who gave me a wide smile and seemed not to have any concerns about my being an enemy agent.

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