Monday, 1 December 2014

Beverley from the expanse of Swinemoor on the banks of the River Hull.

Large en plein air oil on canvas 30"x24" - view showing Beverley from Swinemoor
29th November 2014,

Woke up in the middle of the night, or at least that is what I thought. George was quiet, no barking from downstairs and in the bedroom, with it's window facing west, it  was very very dark. I put the light on, looked at the clock, surprised to see it was 8am. I had slept in! Roll on longer days .... with some sun, hopefully. The deep, dark, dank greyness began to give way to a paler shade of grey, and by early afternoon I was optimistically thinking of doing a painting. We drove round to Swinemoor, walked GEORGE along Barmston Drain returning via the high flood defence path alongside the River Hull . Duty done I decided to try and at least prepare, the ambitiously large canvas as a sketch outline. Walking along the riverbank on uneven squelchy, slippery slimy mud, passing through three gates, secured with binder twine, I reached the Swinemoor pasture. Pleasure boats moored at the riverside looked anything but inviting on this grey day. Towards the west one could see the silhouettes of the three main churches of Beverley. The Minster with it's twin towers dominating the skyline, seeming to watch over both St. Nicholas and St. Mary's churches. In the distance ponies could be seen. Though the overall impression is of water on the meadow. Occasionally flocks of birds took off and wheeled round before settling in the gloom. After a few minutes a well fed, good natured, wire haired terrier appeared sniffing my wellingtons. I exchanged greeting with his mature owner and, as we talked a chugging engine heralded the transient passing of a  pleasure craft . The gentleman with the dog and the owner of the boat, both familiar with each other, exchanged mutual greetings. Looking over towards the river I noticed a small moored cruiser,"Summerjem" an interesting point of reference for my return visit.
Returning the next day, at the same time, visibility was better, with more sky interest. In the distance a gathering of large birds could be seen to my left. Some ponies walked into view to the right, and another dog came over. As I painted a mature man passed heading towards Hull Bridge, later a younger man headed down river, perhaps to a distant mooring? The dog, was with two girls, wearing wellingtons, who were noisily exploring the massive, though shallow, pools of water. They recalled their dog as I walked away, but not before I offered it one of George's biscuits .... which it refused. I also realised that large canvases can easily be caught by the wind which can be tricky when the canvas is still wet, as my padded jacket can testify.
H  A  P  P  Y     P  A  I  N  T  I  N  G


  1. Boy, you Brits are a tough lot! I can't imagine going out the way you do, in all weather, plodding through uneven, squishy, squelchy mud, in near gale conditions, and then setting up to paint (ugh). You are a marvel - I'm thoroughly impressed, but not in the least inspired (smile). Did you paint this scene totally en plain air, or did you finish it back at home? It's lovely, bleak though it is, which is probably what you wanted it to be.

    1. Actually surprised myself in that I pretty well completed it on site. I only added some more birds on the water and a deadish thistle later at home. I decided not to spoil it by over working, and you are right about the bleakish feel to the painting. So, if being clinical I would say 95 percent done en plein air. Indeed the elderly gentleman I mentioned stepped down the bank and commented on how I had got the sky and the water soaked meadow spot on. Anyway hope you are well, just posted you your calendar.


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