It is easy to stick to a well-worn track – and why not? It is a very human response to life. There is safety in what we know. It is convenient. It is good to be sure we know how to do something. Every time we do it, it builds our confidence. As painters we want to make a niche for ourselves and stick to it, whether it is painting trees in a landscape or a floral still life. We are happy with what we know. Try something else and danger could be lurking all around.
Sometimes things happen – like 2020. Suddenly, the world as we know it and feel safe in, changes. Things we took for granted are whisked away and are no longer viable. Art classes are a case in point. We are no longer able to meet others indoors and sit or stand together, companionably painting from life. We all have to keep our distance.
An old word adopts a brand new meaning. For example, ZOOM !
Who knew we would have to find a new way of meeting each other? Find a new way of teaching which, hopefully, remains meaningful and enjoyable? Who knew we would have to adapt to the new technology which makes it all possible? For some of us, a whole new language to go with our new world.
It is good to change. As painters it is something we should always bear in mind. When it is forced upon us it is only natural to resist as long as possible. But really, we have to accept the inevitable and instead of fighting it, see it as the ideal opportunity of starting anew – the chance to look at things in a different way – to dare to step off the beaten track and face whatever dangers may be there. They may not be as scary as we thought !
I painted this after a visit to the National Trust property at Canons Ashby. The house is still closed but the garden is open. You have to pre-book the date you want to visit and the time of your arrival, but it really isn’t difficult.
The day we were there was the one day of the week without constant rain, and the only time we did have a shower we were sitting safely under a large parasol enjoying a cup of tea!
There are plenty of things dotted about the garden as though the gardener has just gone off to collect something and will be back in a minute, or in this case perhaps forty minutes! This gives one the chance to include relevant ‘extras’ in the composition even though they may not actually be that close to the centre of interest. In other words using your ‘artist’s licence’ to tell a story. Likewise you can also omit things which are there if you think they do nothing to add to the story.
After so much rain recently, although thankfully no thunder as yet, I thought a reminder of sunnier days wouldn’t be amiss. It really isn’t fair for some people who are just beginning to feel safe about being outside,that the weather turns either too humid or too wet for it to be comfortable to venture far. It’s a case of having to snatch the chance of freedom while you can.
A meeting with family recently at the National Trust Hughenden estate with enough parkland for everyone to socially distance. Even though the house is closed for obvious reasons there are enough parkland walks and beautiful gardens to keep everyone fully occupied for many hours.
St Michael and All Angels church is very paintable from many angles with no fear of being in anyone’s way.
This week was a good choice to paint the lavender fields as the weather is set to deteriorate by the weekend and the lavender harvest is usually around the end of the month, so who knows how much longer it will be there this year ? It is always a ‘must paint’ moment in the calendar.
One of the greatest joys of the year is to see the fields of lavender in July, and this year is no exception. It is confirmation that Nature carries on regardless. One compensation of this strange year is that it seems to have been a good one for the garden, whether you grow flowers, fruit or vegetables. It is a reminder that such simple pleasures can do so much for our well-being and mental health in difficult times.
This little sketch was done from the side of the road in my small moleskine sketchbook. Check back soon for more from this location.
The rain does have it’s good points. The vegetables are thriving. They are lovely to paint, even though I realized afterwards that I got the angle of the little patty pan squash wrong. Vegetables are often overlooked as subjects for sketching as their fruity rivals are somehow seen as ‘prettier’ or more colourful, but I like them just as much.
I hadn’t intended to paint a poppy today, chiefly because I didn’t know it was there, hiding at the back of a border in the garden. In weather such as we are having at the moment I know it is unlikely to be there long before its petals drop. I think it is an Oriental poppy, but how it came to be where it is, I don’t know. However it got there, it turned out to be a survivor, fighting its way up through the other more established plants, pushing its head up with a determination to be seen. It warmed my day.
A sketch of a little geranium and friend in the garden between rain showers. I am hoping to paint another version of this to turn into a greetings card in due course. The plant was found looking very bedraggled and weary on a forgotten shelf at the garden centre for only a few pence. Since it found a friend in our garden it looks as if it is going to be a lot more cheerful!