Autumn drawings, tracing movements, chasing light…

A last minute invitation to join an early evening cruise on Lake Windermere. Mid-October, light drizzle. I did a series of very quick watercolour and charcoal sketches on the boat. Fading light and low cloud made for a fabulously ambiguous atmosphere. The hills came and went, one minute appearing from the mist the next merging with the sky, and all the time a sense of urgency…trying to capture the scene moving past and the changing light. I find it so exciting to draw at this time of day when forms are barely discernible and imagination makes up the sections eyes cannot see. Here are some of the sketchbook pages.

This half-light holds so many possibilities. So much is hidden, but perhaps that allows more to be revealed in the painting process? There is a lot to explore in the grey areas. The challenge is to work with all the different speeds – moving water, changing light, shifting cloud, birds flying, the speed of the boat. My little drawings plant these ideas in my head. I love this merging of forms and slip sliding from one moment into the next… also the mystery of semi-darkness and barely visible things. I would like to explore this more in larger paintings.

Over the last few months, I’ve been drawing at Derwentwater at different times of day. Superb autumn colour, a cold sharp spell of clear light, crisp mornings, glassy water and intensity of colours magnified by snow-capped mountains (and perfect reflections). Watching the birds come and go, they highlight a difference in time, their lives are lived at another speed and their flight make visible the “unseen”. They point to an invisible world where movements hang in the air, traces and echoes are left. I am fascinated by these tensions that you can only just sense.

And now to the studio… where concepts, ideas and experiences join together in paint. I sometimes think putting the painting trousers on is like stepping into another world! Here I find the perfect speed, weight and fluidity of marks and colours to represent some of these moments. I like the idea of isolating brief snatches of time and overlaying them with other bits. A sort of “timelapse” idea, tracing movements through the air, making the unseen visible. Rather like passages of time translated into paint… and then suddenly disturbed by a faster mark, or sudden stop. Like the way birds move across the water, marks move across canvas.

Some work in progress shots of the studio today.

Lots of slow building up of layers and marks. Working on several paintings at once to allow the paint to dry between layers. As well as helping me to be patient and wait for layers to dry ,this method of working allows a dialogue between the pictures, they start to relate to each other and have a sort of “conversation” between themselves.

One or two close up photos to show the history of marks that are starting to build up.