I had hoped to have a snowy winter in E
. Being from the S ngland Bay Area, snow is something you have to make an effort to get to. It’s not that it’s terribly far away, it’s just never on your front porch. We used to get driven out to play in the snow as kids every once in awhile, en route to R an Francisco . A bit over a year ago I happened to be in Louisville for an event. It started snowing hard enough that my flight home was cancelled and I had to stay another night. I stood there watching the snow and it occurred to me that I’d never actually seen snowfall before that. I’d only ever seen already-fallen snow. I stood there and like an idiot stuck my tongue out to catch some. eno
Well it did snow a number of times in
, which was great. unfortunately it never seemed to stick, melting upon contact even after a few hours of it. So I never got the snowscape I hoped for, that I was looking forward to painting en plein-air. England
The other problem is that
really is as cloudy as its reputation makes it out to be. That’s never good for lighting even if I like hiding from the sun otherwise. So one sunny day we went for a walk just outside our village. There runs the River Churn, though it is really more of a rivulet at this point. Eventually it joins the Thames. It’s a pleasant little stream that winds its way around the hills. There wasn’t much particularly winter about it though, so I picked a spot with a nice barren tree and got to work. England
This was another occasion where it was really cold out and the wind was blowing hard. Once again my fingers were freezing. Another feature of the weather out there was that the clouds tend to move very quickly due to the constant strong winds. What started out as a sunny day very quickly turned into a patchy clouds day, and before long into mostly cloudy, destroying the light.
The board I used was a leftover piece of Ampersand Claybord. I bought it when I was experimenting with Ampersand boards. Since that experimentation their “Hardbord” line has become my standard support, over which I glue paper. I love it. I’d forgotten how hard it was to paint straight onto clayboard though. Within seconds of laying down a passage of oil paint, the absorbent surface would suck the oil down and your strokes were stuck, you could no longer blend. If you used too much turp on your brush and ran it over a passage that had sunken in like I’m describing, it would obliterate the paint; with the oil mostly gone the pigment wasn’t really stuck together with anything, so the thinner carried it away like a damp rag on a dusty surface. So I was fighting my medium and the weather. Finally I gave up, snapped some photos and went home.
The board sat for a long time as I worked on projects. I rubbed some walnut alkyd all over the surface with my fingers, which sunk in. When that dried I did it maybe two more times until the clay surface was saturated, at which point the paint would stick to the surface and handle like oils should. Maybe 2 months later I had some time and proceeded to finish the painting in the studio using a tighter style more like my illustration. Finally, I had this:
8x16” oils on clayboard