Saturday, 25 February 2017

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.

The Ridge

It is two days since Storm Doris passed over us.  The rain was not as bad as expected but the winds were the highest that we have experienced here.

During a sunny interval, at around 11am, I took Millie, our whippet, for a belated morning walk.  She was initially keen to get out but was soon unsettled by the roaring sounds.  I coaxed her down the lane, along the populated and tree-lined section, but once we left the shelter of the foliage and stepped out onto the ridge, she would go no further and I was forced to abandon our outing.  I can’t say that I blame her.  We were assailed by the full force of the wind, which at that time was gusting at about 40mph.  We sped back home with me feeling as if someone had a hand on my back and was pushing me along.

I was sorry not to be able to walk along that section of the lane as it is my favourite.  It follows the line of the ridge and, being the highest point for miles, affords a far-reaching view across the landscape.  It is like a spine on the back of the land.  On the right-hand side the fields curve quickly downwards and then gently up again to a distant wood.  At this time of year I like to stand and watch the white gulls flying beneath my feet as they wheel and turn above the chocolate-brown earth below.  From that point I can see over the wood and beyond to the horizon.  The farmland ripples away and the only buildings visible are a couple of distant farmhouses denoted by the white and pink triangular shapes which have become so familiar to me in recent years.

To the left the descent is initially more gradual until it begins to fall and fold in on itself from both sides.  It creates a sheltered, sloping, scoop-shaped valley.  Walking here every day as I do, I have become familiar with some of its inhabitants.  As one creature of habit I have become familiar with the behaviour patterns and timetables of others.  I know where to see a group of six deer twice daily and the best locations for sightings of hares (yesterday was the first sighting of the year when I spotted six running across the face of a large field).

Meanwhile, back on Doris Day, the winds peaked at 60mph at around 4pm.  I had to stop work and leave the studio because if I hadn’t locked and braced the double doors shut with timber against a parallel step, they would have been ripped open and the bolts broken.  Being of a light build, I found myself knocked off balance and slapped against the outer wall as I faced the rush of air flowing unimpeded across the fields and up and over the garden.  I was glad to get into the house and out of harm’s way.

Waking during the night, it was strangely silent after all those hours of noise.  I spent most of yesterday repairing a broken fence and picking up plant debris from the garden.  We were lucky - no harm done.

This week, hopefully, it will be back to some quieter painting.  I have recently sent eleven pictures off to an exhibition which opens on Friday (3rd March) at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be continuing to produce a series of paintings and drawings inspired by the gardens at Saling Grove in Essex as part of my residency there and beginning work on a couple of commissions.  That should keep me out of mischief.  However, I’ll still find time to go on my daily walks with Millie and to enjoy the ever-changing panorama from the ridge.

All text & images ©2017 Carol Saunderson