Friday, 10 August 2012

A view of Barrowden

 Oil on Board, 8 x 10 inches

I spent an hour and a half yesterday, looking for a suitable view to paint on site by my local river.  Usually at this time of year, the river is a joy, with lush vegetation, tons of Willowherb and Himalayan Balsam, but this year is very different.  After the wettest drought in living memory, the river has been in spate for so long, that the usual vegetation has been effectively drowned and now the river is finally at its usual height again, the banks are left muddied and virtually bare and a lot of the weed and Water Crowfoot in the river has gone.

So, I tried looking for a more land-locked subject and stumbled across this view from a gateway as I drove slowly alongside a high hedgerow near Barrowden.  I was determined to get something down, so I quickly got set-up and scrubbed in the composition.  After an hour and three-quarters in searing heat the light had changed so that the church was lit-up, but I preferred the slightly more silhouetted  look against the blue backdrop of distant woodland.  Also, my big household brush had got split-ends and needed a trim, and it was a little frustrating not being able to paint the middle distance trees the way I wanted, so I packed up and finished it off at home. I also got sunburnt on my shoulders and chest, not used to this African sun.

Here's a view of the scene with my gear just before packing up:

I've long felt aware that to be considered a good painter, I have to paint more and more plein air work and that's what I'm endeavouring to do. The challenge of getting down the gist of the subject quickly, forces a looser approach, although I ended up getting my usual sort of finish to the piece.  The great thing is, there is no distortion of colour and tone and you paint what's in front of you.

During my walk looking for a riverine scene to paint, there was lots of insect activity in the heat and sunshine.  There were loads of huge predatory Brown Hawker Dragonflies the size of Chinook Helicopters, then this little orange Comma butterfly settled on some nettles in front of me:

Last but not least, I noticed these two Large Whites on the path, the larger female with the dark spots on her forewings, trying to tell the male dancing around her that she had already been mated and was not interested in his advances.  She does this by pulling her forewings back and raising her abdomen up in the air as can be seen in the second two photos.  Bad luck mate, you need to look for pastures new...the lady's not for turning........


  1. So sorry about the sunburn.... Great painting, lovely photos, and fine commentary. Altogether great post! Thank you!!

    1. Thank you Marilyn, that's very kind of you to say so - much appreciated!

  2. Fabulous work as always Peter.
    Best regards


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