In the latest catalogue, Journeys, Glenn Fuller invites the reader to ‘consider the journey’ that each painting in their collection may have taken. As an artist, I thought I would enlighten you on the journey that some of my paintings took in their creation. Not only is it a journey of the paintings, but also a journey of the area and surrounding countryside they depict.
My studio is at East Haddon Grange, near the village of East Haddon, Northamptonshire and is set in rolling countryside. A very short distance in my Land Rover on the A428 towards Long Buckby takes me to a turning and track into fields. It is fairly high so there are good distances. Turning off the road, I stop and immediately see a composition which I draw. Later I make studies in a book which is leather bound and made up of Amatruda watercolour paper, which was made in Italy.
You can see a scene and say “that would be good" and there it stays. Making a drawing, however slight and quick, captures that scene and gives it the potential to be further explored and developed. This composition I worked into a full large painting and two more smaller variations.
One composition such as this can be portrayed in many ways. With different light, as the light changes through the course of a day with each day being different, as well as the changing seasons. Also, in terms of scale; moving slightly to the left or right also alters the composition.
In my watercolour book, I note that the tree to the left of the composition whilst appearing as a bare winter tree is in fact dead. It has now fallen and in some way I consider these paintings a tribute to it and a statement about the changing landscape. I did in fact paint it many years ago, and looking at it now the tree does seem to be in decline.
Continuing our journey, driving down the track it turns right and following on the landscape opens up to the left looking Southwest. When engaged and thinking about what may make a painting I see many compositions which may or may not finally become paintings.
The pine trees to the right of the last painting are to the left of the next and carrying on and looking back we see the trees featured in the last painting as the subject for this. The trees to the right were the subject of two of the previous pictures just illustrating how subjects can be found.
Continuing on our journey, the track twists and turns and we come to where I found a very moving view. The sun was setting and I made my way up a hedgerow to look down and made what I consider to be a very significant drawing. It actually has the sun in different positions as it set and in drawings like this I also try out the positions of flying birds which adds some life and movement. Birds are hard to draw and paint in flight and I am keen to make them seem believable. Thoughts run through my head when sitting quietly in the countryside and drawing like this. I write them down into the drawing and later rework them up as something more poetic.
The tree to the right of this drawing which appears quite apparent here, is smaller and less significant than in the final painting though quite key to the composition. However it is is the tree which features strongly as the central tree in the painting which finishes this journey.
The Last Leaves of Summer
"Somehow the birds fly
through the mass of tangled tree
I share this day with you.
Cold biting wind, dark and matted
the last leaves of summer cling,
hanging on helplessly
to that warm season fading,
as the sun loses it’s heat
sinking behind that grey cloud,
It chills, yet your cold sustains me.
The more complex you are,
the more beautiful.
The more I look and see
the more I understand.
Then ever giving, you give me a sunset
and with one icy blast we’re done."
With access to the countryside laws changing and fly tipping, I do understand how it is a matter of security that we safeguard the countryside. It is the inspiration for my work and there are still many footpaths and tracks to enjoy.