At first thought late November is an unusual time of year to begin talking about the joy of nature and landscape painting. We are experiencing the first really cold weather of the autumn, with heavy downpours, and it is difficult not to long for summer days painting outdoors.
We recently had the perfect example of a wet grey November day, and it would have been so easy to stay in, perhaps tidy up the studio, maybe do some paperwork. Instead, having dogs who have never yet met weather that defeated them, we braced up and took a good walk. And it was so worth while. As we walked our local tree lined streets in light too poor for photographs and too cold and wet for sketches, I concentrated on fixing the emotion of the scene in my mind. The trees will not vary too much for another few weeks, the view will remain factually the same, I can draw or photograph it another day, but what will distinguish this day from any other is the soft grey light, the drizzle, the texture of the shining yellow leaves underfoot and the drama and contrast of those still hanging on the darkest of wet branches.
A limited palette, Paynes’ Grey, Raw Sienna and deepest darks of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine, an overall softness with the dramatic contrast of grey and yellow. I was glad I hadn’t been defeated by the weather and I now have in my mind both the emotion and the colours of the paints that I will use back in the studio. Later that day, the skies cleared for a brief but beautiful sunset which lit up those same yellow leaves to a searing brightness. It was gone in five minutes but from one unpromising day there was rich inspiration for future landscape paintings.