We’re about to hit half-term and then unbelievably it will be the run down towards Christmas. How did that happen?
This September I took on a new class in Churchill just over the border into Oxfordshire. This is an existing group who have been together for a while but found themselves in need of a tutor. Life intervenes in a number of ways and the class started off small but now others are able to join or re-join the group and our numbers are rising.
Preparing for this new class has taken a bit of thought and time, but worth every minute.
‘Harvest’ is our latest project. I can never resist a pumpkin..
Sometimes it’s just not practical to sketch at a certain location – no place to stand without getting run over, nowhere to park a car, too much rain to make watercolour stick to the page… all of these applied to this one, but I just loved the tree and wanted to paint it so I had to resort to taking a photograph.
The yellow-gold on the right hand side of Station Road by the entrance to the Manor House as I headed towards the Post Office in the distance added a bright splash of warmth to an otherwise grey morning. The first time I’ve painted since a few days off with a bad back which is now only sore rather than agonizing. At least I can move, although it’s that moment between sitting down and standing up which is still a problem!
I pass this cottage any number of times during the week, sometimes without really noticing it. Recently as I went by, it was the light on the foliage in front of the cottage which jumped out at me and made me want to paint it.
I couldn’t stop at the time, but the memory stayed with me.
Although the building may be recognizable, it is not accurate. I didn’t want to make a portrait of a particular place. Many liberties have been taken and the background hardly mentioned at all. As it was the tree(s) which struck me, this was where I tried to keep my focus when I painted it later mostly how I thought it should be.
I hope I have caught the feeling of the place.
Once the leaves start to change colour there is no stopping them and soon there will be more on the ground than those left clinging to the branches above, but there is beauty in all seasons and a lot more still to come.
Chestnuts are not the only fruits of Autumn. At this time of year Pumpkins and Squashes start appearing in shops and stalls in increasingly large numbers. They have certainly caught on in a big way on this side of the Atlantic in recent years and are firm favourites to include in a painting. Here I used various mixes of lemon yellow, cadmium scarlet and permanent magenta
We are currently having that tug-of-war between the seasons with some days wild and wet, proclaiming that Autumn is asserting its superiority, and others, mild and sunny suggesting that Summer has not yet quite deserted us.
The wild and wet days knock down the Horse Chestnuts from the trees together with some small branches. Some of the fruits split upon hitting the ground giving us a glimpse of a startling white interior and a flash of mahogany of the concealed nut.
All too quickly the bright colours become dull and one has to be quick to grab the chance of a sketch. This was painted on Saunders Waterford 140lb Hot Press.
Horse Chestnuts, or “conkers” are always a welcome sight and I look forward to painting them at this time of year as they are so evocative of the change in seasons. You would think that they would all be the same size and shape, but I have yet to see two identical.
For the body of the chestnuts I use combinations of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Violet (either Winsor violet or a mixture of French Ultramarine and Permanent Alizarin Crimson). If the chestnut is still bright and shiny I use a brighter yellow. As for the bits on top I make very light washes of mostly the same colours and let them mix together when wet and then go back in later with a few darker washes.
At one time, children used to drill a hole through them and attach them to a piece of string and then bash them against each other’s to see whose Chestnut would “conker”the rest. I tried to keep some of mine in good condition as I regarded them more as lucky mascots rather than weapons.