Wednesday, 13 June 2018

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

13 June

The morning is still and mild.  On the lane, a member of the farm staff is putting up an electric fence around a clover field, to prepare it for sheep pasture.  The sound of stakes being hammered into the ground echoes across the valley.  I hear it still, as I reach the bridle path and turn uphill towards the wood.  From an oak tree, half way along, a buzzard languorously floats out and begins to circle above the adjacent crop.  I have skylark voices in stereo.  

Walking along the edge of the wood, the sound of our feet on the dry ground disturbs a number of pigeons.  The sudden burst of noise, as they hurriedly take flight, makes Millie jump, as it echoes from tree to tree across the clearing.  I can see that the paths have been cut and have turned to the colour of drying grass.

The cloud layer is slowly sliding back to reveal a pale cerulean sky.  There is something both beautiful and moving about its clarity.  It looks fresh enough to dive into – a hopeful, pure light.  I wish that I could capture it in a painting, but I know that it is impossible to do it justice.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Friday, 8 June 2018

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

8 June

The small meadow is going through a growth spurt.  The grasses seem to have shot up – a bit like when you discover that your hair has become too long overnight!  The wind moves across them, making their tops sway back and forth, like gentle waves on the sea.  It is very relaxing to watch.  And if they are the waves, then the ox-eye daisies are the spray.  Patches of white, star-shapes, moving to the same rhythm, their faces turned toward the sun.

Cutting the paths, I find Small Blue butterflies fluttering ahead of me, and have to stop the mower several times, in order to avoid a casualty!  I am always amazed how much life inhabits such a small area - and I’m sure that I only know the half of it.  The goldfinches, rooks and green woodpecker are still daily visitors, and last week I spotted a female pheasant crouching nervously amidst the stems.

Today I spy numerous small orange/brown moths(?) and notice that one of the bug hotels is doing a brisk trade, with potential new clients investigating the narrow-bore holes that are drilled into its lower level.  Welcome.  The rates are reasonable and the service is really quite good.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Monday, 4 June 2018

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

4 June

Looking out at the twilight before dawn, I see that a layer of thick mist is wrapped around the trees and draped over the grass.  Opaque, pale grey.  A silent landscape in monochrome.

The mist gives way to light cloud.  A still, cool atmosphere, perfect for walking.  The blue/green blades of the young wheat are covered in tiny water droplets.  Everything is growing so rapidly now.   Some of the grasses on the field margins reach my eye level, and in places on the path, Millie disappears - her location denoted only by swaying seed heads.  

The grasses have a fragile beauty.  Many of them are in flower now, with powdery explosions atop their slender stems.  There are so many varieties; I love their names - Meadow Foxtail, Cocksfoot, Meadow Fescue, Quaking Grass and Yorkshire Fog!

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

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

22 May

Bright light and a clear sky, but a strong breeze.  The tops of the oaks rustle and sway; the scented hawthorn moves like a wave.  Out of sight, but nearby, the croaky call of a pheasant, followed by the short, muffled drumbeat of its wings.

An Orange Tip butterfly haphazardly crosses our path - like a scrap of dip-dyed paper, blown by the wind.

Buffetted by the vigorous air, a sounds like the sea in my ears, we press on down the path.  In a sheltered spot further along, the waterfall song of the skylark drips over me, while the first swallows dip and dive and skim the surface of the green.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

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

16 May

The meadow is alive with goldfinches.  These bright little birds are so tiny that they can hang onto the dandelion stems and eat the "clocks".  The flit around with their undulating flight, chattering away with their high-pitched voices.  I count ten.  Their collective noun is a "charm"  –  a suitable word on so many levels.

The scent of the may is sweet and heady.  The hawthorn hedges are thick with white, refulgent blooms.  Turning a corner, I suddenly hear a strange cacophony coming from the sky on my right.  It's all happening!  The clicking/gurgling sound is being emitted by two crows that are trying to see off a buzzard.  One flies above it, the other below.   Their commotion sets a hare running directly beneath them.   They are engaged in a display of aerial acrobatics, like two spitfires above the curve of the earth.  The large bird turns this way and that, but eventually gives up and glides off to perch on a telegraph pole in the middle of the field.

This great field has been sown with "green manure"  –  clover, bird's foot trefoil and chicory.  Also in abundance –  the ubiquitous dandelion clocks.  The buzzard, who has been sitting like Simeon the Stylite, suddenly dives into the green, resulting in the immediate rising of a little cloud of noisy and excited birds.  They form one shape, whose elements move around each other like atoms.  The bird of prey is unlucky again, and with a flap of its great wings, it returns to its post, while the little cloud chitter-chatters away, as if blown by the breeze, over the surface of the sward.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Friday, 11 May 2018

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

11 May

Suddenly the leaves of the apple trees and the beech hedge have appeared, to fill the space in front of the cottage.  They are interspersed with the narrow batons of a collapsing fence.  The bright, morning light is filtered through patches of luminous green.  In the bed at their feet, irises have bloomed.  Rich, luxurious purple.  I examine them closely.  The petals are striped with white at their bases, contrasted with yolk-coloured pollen that sits atop the slender, white stamens.  Fabric is a beautiful thing, but could any woven silk really be as magnificent as these flowers?

In equal measure to this grand display, I am attracted to the buds of the iris.  The furled, compact petals are a deep, dark indigo – one of my favourite colours.  They sit on their stems like tall and elegant sculptures – the Vogue models of the flower world.

It is windy and bright out on the lane.  I pause beneath an oak tree and look up at its structure.  Then I just stand and listen to the powerful rush of the air, moving through the tender leaves.  It sounds so fresh.  If only it could blow between my ears and clear the fuzziness from my head!

Deep yellow dots of buttercups are beginning to emerge from the growing grass verges, and where the snow once lay, there are great drifts of cow parsley.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Monday, 7 May 2018

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

7 May

There is a deep crimson skyline to the east, and above it a pale cerulean, turning to deep cobalt at the zenith.  It is 4.25am and we are walking across open fields towards the nearest wood, in order to listen to the dawn chorus.  The sun will not rise for almost an hour, but the twilight affords visibility enough to find our way with ease and the blackbirds and robins have already begun to sing.  The weather forecast promises a glorious day, and certainly there is complete clarity in the atmosphere and not a breath of air movement.

As we cross from one field to the next, and turn along a hedge line, we put a pair of partridges to noisy flight.  Then, as our silent little procession passes beneath an oak tree, a tawny owl launches itself into the blue and floats away beneath the half moon and the morning star.  When we reach the edge of the wood, the wrens have joined in and the occasional pheasant call is echoing eerily across the surrounding valley.

Within the wood, the lush grass is drenched with a heavy dew, which soon passes through my old leather walking boots and soaks into my socks – it is pleasantly cooling.  My trousers wick up the moisture and the damp climbs towards my shins.  It is darker in here.  The moon peeps at us between the trees.  In the densest area, we disturb slumbering pigeons, who leave their roosts with a deep clapping sounds.  Not wanting to alarm them further, we move back into a more open area and pause to listen to a song thrush singing mellifluously, high up and to our left.

We are outside the wood now, following its southern edge.  Suddenly B spots something loping along ahead of us.  It is a fox.  Its coat looks thick and rough and glows a deep red in the rosy light. 

Taking the bridle path to out left, we hear warblers in the hedgerow.  Three hares run along the far edge of the field to our right and then three to our left.  They chase each other along the horizon line, under a pale pink sky.  

As we near the cottage, shortly before 5.30am, we are walking due east and into the face of the fully risen sun.  We are forced to avert our eyes in deference to the fiery globe, which is covering the landscape in liquid gold.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Friday, 4 May 2018

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

4 May

Two Orange Tip butterflies are nosing the white flowers of a patch of nettles, and from the grassy path ahead, a Skipper rises up and alights on a clod in the newly cultivated field.  It all but disappears against the pale, brown earth.  Three Small Whites ripple down the line of cowslips as we walk, and a Peacock butterfly seems so enamoured with Millie that, at one point, I think that it is going to land on her head!  The heat is bringing out the butterflies and, I notice, the small mauvy-blue flowers of the Self-Heal - a contrast to the vivid dandelion yellow.

At a high point along the path, I stop and sit down.  It is a step above the field margin, and thus provides a ready seat.  The air is perfectly still.  It is silent, save for the “hummm” of bees and flies, going about their business.  I gaze into the hazy distance, watch the flight patterns of birds and absorb the warmth of the afternoon sun.  I can feel it soaking into my bones.  Millie snuffles about in the grass – eating dandelions and rabbit droppings, if truth be told.  The peace is welcome and therapeutic.

As we reach the first dwellings, on our way back along the lane, the smell of a barbecue scents the evening air – the first outdoor cooking of the year has begun.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

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

2 May

Millie and I are out early, in order to avoid the oncoming rain.  I’m aware of the increase in open flowers that have begun to decorate the verges and bases of the hedgerows – some paths have literally hundreds of cowslips along their edges.  I see also patches of tiny, blue, forget-me-nots, newly emerged red campion, primroses, garlic mustard and still partially enclosed bluebells.  There are dog violets too, and soon the sides of the lane and the field margins will be frothing with white cow parsley.  And then there is Bellis Perennis, the “everlasting beauty”, the “eye of day” – it closes its petals at night and opens them every morning.  A rather underrated, cheery little flower, in my opinion.

The trees are coming into leaf too.  The views across the landscape are changing accordingly, as they put on their garments and take up more space.  Gaps are closing and light is filtered through the tender green.  The weeping willow, by the village hall, cascades down in a rush of pale, slender leaves.  Together they are so dense and full of movement that it looks as if spray from a great wave is about to break over me.  But there, in the centre of it all, sits a pigeon, perfectly still and eying me warily.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

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

25 April

The wind is sending the clouds scudding across the sky as we take the footpath across a newly planted field and uphill towards the wood.  We travel carefully along the narrow ribbon between the tiny green shoots until the path disappears though an archway in a high hedge, frothing with may blossom.

Once on the other side, Millie pulls on the lead towards the field ahead of us and stands up on her back legs like a meerkat, emitting a whine of excitement.  What has she seen?  There seems to be only brown earth, until.....something moves on the skyline.  I drop down and squat on my haunches in order to put the object directly into my eyeline.  There is only the sound of the wind and the low-toned handclap of rooks leaving the boughs of a nearby oak tree.

In this open landscape, on this bright morning, there seems to be only we three creatures on the earth - Millie, me, and the running hare.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Monday, 23 April 2018

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

23 April

Since the beginning of the year I have produced over twenty paintings.  Today I am allocating them to four groups, in order to send them to four shows which are coming up in May and June.  I have been deliberating for a while, but now I make my final decision and carefully wrap and stack each one. There is little room to move in my small studio.  All spare work surfaces and hanging spaces are full.

Before beginning the associated form-filling, I give myself a break in order to cut the meadow path.  Although it is only eight days since the field was mown, the grass has grown so rapidly as to make it almost indistinguishable.  I am keen to re-establish it.  Its sinuous edge and neatness emphasise the beauty of the wild areas.

Edges are also very important to me in my work.  In a painting, a well-crafted edge enhances that which lies on either side.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Friday, 20 April 2018

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

20 April

Last night’s sky provided two spectacular light shows: 

The full orb of the setting sun, coloured with the deepest crimson, sitting on the line of the horizon.

Later, the moon – a bright, narrow arc in a cloudless, starlit sky, appearing like an acorn in vivid silver cup.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

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

18 April

I awake at 4.30am with an all-to-familiar sensation of sore and sickening pain in my face, my forehead, and at the base of my skull, accompanied by a loud ringing in my left ear.  I slip silently out of bed, gently stretch my neck and back, and take my medication.  I return to bed and fall quickly into a sleep composed of short, vivid dreams – another symptom that I recognise as an indication of migraine.  Fortunately, I have caught it soon enough, and I awake at 6am to find that a summer-like morning has arrived.

It is already 18°C at the top of the hill and the gentle breeze and warm air soothe my fuzzy head as we descend the undulating path.  At the bottom of the valley, a buzzard flying lazily overhead, begins its high-pitched and elongated “mewww, mewww”.  We step onto the small wooden bridge, accessed through a gap in the hedge, and cross the brook, which chatters over pebbles, beneath the sulphur explosions of willow catkins and slender, unfurling leaves.  We pass through rabbit-ville and out onto the road…..

….Well, it’s hardly a road really.  Along the bottom of this picturesque little valley, a lane snakes and slithers its way between rising fields.  The views are stunning.

The only aspect that saddens me, is the litter which has been thrown from passing vehicles and which finds its way into the ditch and beneath the hedgerow.  I collect as much as I can.  It is mostly plastic bottles and cans for “high energy” drinks, and cardboard and plastic wraps for sandwiches and burgers.  I feel sad that the hands that discarded these objects, belong to eyes that do not see the surrounding beauty, hearts that do not appreciate it, and minds that do not think of the potential harm to nature.  Many people are now, quite rightly, concerned about how we can rid the environment of plastic.  It is ironic that it is being put there daily, by other people, who do not share their concerns.  One hand gives and the other takes away.  There are clever technical solutions currently being proposed, but really it all comes down to the blind eyes being opened and that, as we know, takes a miracle.

The warm air is bringing out the blossom – the hawthorn hedges are decked with small, white flowers and the cherry trees with pink.

When I return home, the magnolia tree in Barry’s garden is shimmering in the sunlight.  This most ephemeral of tree flora often falls victim to frosts, which scorch its delicate petals, causing them to turn brown and die.  Today, however, there is no such danger.  It basks in the morning sun, soaking up the warmth, which is predicted to rise to 26°C tomorrow.  After the chill fog of last week, it feels as if we have been sent to the Mediterranean for a couple of days – and no queue at the airport!

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Sunday, 15 April 2018

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

15 April

The meadow has been cut, about three weeks later than I would have liked, due to the weather.  I asked Farmer Graham to leave a field margin, approximately 2m wide, near to the garden.  This was because there are a number of cowslips growing in this strip, and I wanted to save from them from decapitation!

The first brimstone butterflies have appeared, flitting between the garden and the meadow margin. For me, they are the real herald of Spring.  I can only describe their wing colour as “refreshing”, as they are a pale, lime-yellow.  It makes them look like fragments of sunshine flying around.  I also saw a lone peacock butterfly.

The newly cut grass has attracted a pied wagtail, which alternates between bobbing up and down on a fence post and feeding amongst the fallen stems.  Other birds are also gleaning – goldfinches and blackbirds.  The green woodpecker has reappeared, feasting on the occupants of the newly disturbed ant hills.

I have been in the studio, varnishing 8 small paintings, which I will take to the framers on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, indoors, we have been redecorating the guest bedroom, introducing fresh new colours – artist’s day off!

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Friday, 13 April 2018

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

13 April

The opaque veil has lifted at last.  The evening sun is warm and golden.  As we drive back from Lavenham, a sense of relief washes over me - I am able to see into the far distance once more; the claustrophobic lid has lifted.  From this point so much of this verdant landscape is visible.  And just as an extra treat, we see a barn owl “quartering” a meadow, beside the road.  As we draw level, it alights on a branch; so close that we can see its heart-shaped face and dark eyes staring directly at us.

I know that I am privileged.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Thursday, 12 April 2018

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

12 April

Today, on day five of the mist, and on the edge of a newly planted field, we find an area of earth and verge heavily patterned with deer prints.  I have never seen so many together – it must cover a strip 100 metres in length.  They look like the impressions of roe deer feet.  They have also liberally scattered their droppings all over the parallel road surface.  Hundreds of small, black, shiny pellets strew our way.

When I look at the short, green stems of the young crop, I can see four flattened paths, where they have emerged from the field.  There has been quite a gathering here in the past 24 hours!

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

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

10 April

This is the third day of heavy mist.  It hangs damply over the trees and fields, hugging the contours of the earth.  Pink blossom stands out against the grey.  There is no air movement.  All sound is muffled.  In the distance, the low-toned explosion from a bird-scarer sounds baffled and shortened – like a small cannon with a sock in its mouth.  My neighbour’s Hebridean lambs, whose enthusiasm for life is not dampened by the weather, skip and butt each other as their mothers munch hay from the feeder.

Millie and I pass close by an enormous pile of cow muck – it must be 50m long.  It is organic manure for the fallow field.  Steam rises slowly from it and merges with the mist.  I like the smell – it reminds me working on the farm as a child.  It is reminiscent of the scent of the potato fields in Autumn, when the crop was harvested.  Mud and rotting potato tops.  It’s funny what can be comforting and familiar.

Beyond the heap, I spy two hares.  They have appeared from the grass bank beside the lane and are chasing and stopping, then chasing again.  Another courtship dance, no doubt.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Saturday, 7 April 2018

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

7 April

There seems to have been a sudden acceleration in nature over the last week.  There is a noticeable increase in both flowers and birdsong.  Suddenly the banks of the lane are covered in open daffodils and the first cowslips have appeared beside the hedgerows.  The birdsong is richer and more complex – more voices are singing, and for longer.

Walking downhill from the church, I spot two kestrels sitting on adjacent posts.  There are large fields either side, one of which has been fallow for some time and looks as if it might be a suitable source of voles ( it has certainly been a successful hunting ground for a barn owl of late ).  In the hedgerow, in front of them, sits a yellowhammer, lit by the morning sun.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

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

4 April

A small flock of yellowhammers moves down the hedgerow ahead of me.  One or two settle on the top of the closely cropped structure.  They allow me to draw alongside, before advancing approximately 5 metres and taking up almost identical positions on and amongst the blunt, thick stems.  And so the pattern goes on down the line, with their high-pitched song piercing the silent morning.

The sticky buds of the aged horse chestnut tree, that stands on the green, are opening to reveal the new green leaves — tiny umbrellas unfurling.   The catkins of a Goat Willow have burst open to extend their stamens.  They look like small yellow bottlebrushes, floating above the silver grey layer of the dried grass stems beneath.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

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

28 March

Through the drizzle I can see some marks moving on the far side of a field.  They are almost identical in tone to the growing winter wheat.  Suddenly one of the pale brown marks elongates as the animal turns sideways on, and I recognise the long, lean shape of a hare.

I walk a little further along the concrete road and then stand still and wait.  The three or four are actually eight in total, running around in an oval shape, weaving in and out of each other.  I am guessing that one is a female, a Jill, that is in season.  There will be many sitings like this over the next few weeks.  Suddenly, one leaps into the air and kicks out its back legs — a pale hyphen above the line of the earth.  These are the mad, March hares.

As I stand beside the easel, mixing paint, I look up and am amazed to see that the kestrel has come into the garden.  She is sitting on the fence, which runs parallel to the building, about six metres from the studio window.  I can clearly see her large, dark eyes and sharp, hooked beak.  No doubt she is scanning for field voles, whose holes are all too evident in the small lawn in front of her.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Friday, 23 March 2018

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

23 March

I spot a couple of roe deer in the distance this morning.  They notice us, but don’t seem unduly bothered.  They soon return to eating, before skittishly trotting off down the field.

A few metres further down the lane, in a sunny, sheltered spot, there is a scattering of dog violets.  A bit early to bloom?  And just beyond them is a yellowhammer, sitting atop the hedge.  They always make me smile, as their bright yellow heads make them look a little like escaped budgies!

There are colourful birds of a different variety on the afternoon walk.  As we come clomping down the track, we disturb two jays.  They fly from the hedge and across our path; their dipping and rising flight taking them to the safety of a line of small trees.  

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

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

21 March

When I open the curtains at 6.30am I see the wonderful combination of sunshine and frost.  The trees across the field opposite are partly obscured by mist.  On the lane out front, a rook is busy looking for food.  There’s no obvious target - he just capers about in his pantomimic style, checking first this and then that spot.  He is soon joined by a second rook, in his intense scrutiny of the tarmac junction.  When two or three vehicles pass, they lollop a metre or so back, with their comical sidestep, and then immediately return to the site of their intrigue.

The mist soon lifts, and after breakfast Millie and I set off on one of our favourite walks - I like the sweeping views across the farmland and she likes the proliferation of rabbits!  Before we even get near to Rabbit-ville, she begins her low, crouching walk: head, back and tail perfectly aligned, stealth on four legs!  The rabbits, on the other hand, are very blasé.  They are used to frequent human and canine walkers crossing the field, and continue to sit in the Spring sunshine, at the top of their burrows until the very last minute when - *pfff!* - they disappear, like the reverse of a magician’s trick.  Millie sticks her muzzle down a hole and sniffs.  Drat!  Got away again!

We turn right along the lane.  Whilst I am looking at the field patterns, there is a sudden tug on the lead and some rustling on the other side of the hedge.  A grey heron rises above the blackthorn and flies off across the grass field.  He must have been hunting in the ditch.

The lane descends steeply and crosses a brook, by an old, abandoned, cart bridge.  On again and then uphill, towards the church.   About halfway up, as I am looking up at some fieldfares, I feel another tug on the lead.  Millie has found something in the grass.  At the bottom of the bank lies a dead barn owl.  It is possibly a male; it’s hard to tell, as I cannot see its face, but the tail bars are quite a pale grey.  There is little air movement, but a light breeze stirs a layer of exquisitely fine, white feathers.  The bird appears so weightless; as if I would feel nothing on my palm, should I pick it up.  A few more feathers are strewn around and I cannot see the head amidst the crumpled form - was this damage done before or after death? 

Barn owls have few predators, but at this time of year, in periods of harsh weather, many starve to death for lack of prey.  I sincerely hope that this is not the case.  Even in death, it is a beautiful and noble creature. I cannot bear the thought that it grew weak from lack of food.

So much meadowland has been lost since the 1930’s - 97% in the U.K. We are luckier here than in most areas, but still, competition is fierce for that which remains.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson