....... or the adventures of 'Treeman' in Silpho Forest.
Where do like to be on hot summer days - on the beach...lounging by the pool? Well I love being in forests (some of you may have noticed by now!) - there is always a feeling of calm and serenity when you are surrounded by trees and of course plenty of shade on a hot sunny day. In the middle of of our recent hot spell I set off with Merice and Bonnie to visit Silpho Forest in North Yorkshire. I have been many times but am never disappointed by the endless variety of light and shade in this ancient place. It's a great place to set up camp for the day and a great place to paint - especially if you like trees of course! So after a delicious picnic (and a short.... well....actually quite a long rest) I decided to set up my easel and start to paint. Painting outdoors is great fun of course but it has its drawbacks- the first being- just how do you decide what to paint when confronted with so much beauty and nature in the raw?Silpho Forest - pencil sketch
So how do you set about choosing your subject? I look for the light mainly, as this is the very core of my art. So I chose this particular scene because I loved the way the path leads you into it. It has a tree with a very strong shape to act as a focus and the light was casting nice shadows onto the path. The path was well trodden and covered in old leaves from last Autumn so it has a nice warm red/brown colour to it. This pencil sketch would provide the basis of the painting and I would need it as I knew I would not have enough time to finish it on site.... too old or too lazy...take your pick. I chose not to take a photo but decided to work from the sketch and my memories of the day.
That's why it is so important to visit the scene of a painting even if you are intending to paint it back home in the studio. The time taken to make a sketch imprints impressions on your brain in a way that no photo can. You absorb the smell and the sounds - things impossible to capture on the camera (well not yet!). Your memories help you to put onto paper the whole impression of 'being there'. Real places make real paintings. So the next step is to do the drawing onto my paper and then get out the brushes.
That was as far as I got outdoors. Fish and chips were calling, and at my age - have to be answered - no point in rushing. It had been a great afternoon and I had made a good start on the painting. Altogether a very liberating experience and what can be more liberating than peeing outdoors in a forest! Anyway back to the studio to finish off the following day:
So...would you like to see the finished painting? I hope so - but here it is anyway!
Professional artist now semi retired and enjoying being eccentric!