I know the date because I had recorded it on a series of sketches I made on the day in preparation for the painting. The actual focus of the work was to be the Foss itself, a place where the River Ribble tumbles down a series of cascades, but I made drawings of the surrounding area as well, including this delightful Packhorse Bridge just up from the Foss. Sketches are so important. The time spent doing them implants not just the scene in your mind but also the ‘feel’ and the emotional response to the day. A photograph would have captured the details, but the sketches captured the essence of the area. I had made a few notes which brought back how soggy it was that day. We arrived in the afternoon, but it had been raining all morning. We were glad of our walking boots as we squelched our way to the Foss. We crossed over the bridge on our way. Because of the rain, everything was sparkling and sharp to the eye. The sky was clearing rapidly, and we ended up with a warm end to the day.
This week then, I decided to concentrate on the bridge sketch. I used five colours – French ultramarine, Antwerp blue, Payne’s grey, Windsor yellow and brown madder – and painted it in one sitting in a couple of hours (All right- I might have had a break or two for a cuppa!). But if I get asked the usual question – “How long did it take you to paint that?” – then I can truthfully reply – “Fourteen years.”
I’m looking forward to having another perusal of that old sketchbook to see what else I might find.