Tuesday, 11 September 2018


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


11 September


I’m currently working on a wide, narrow, panoramic landscape painting.  Today, therefore, I am particularly focussed on the shapes of distant trees and the surface of the land.

The morning is warmer than I had anticipated and, by the time that we get near to the Hall, I am beginning to feel very over-dressed.  The small windproof jacket, that I have put on over a t-shirt, is making me steam as the sun shines on my back.  I feel as is my torso is cooking en papillote!

Millie, meanwhile, is rootling in the hedgerow, fascinated by the many scuttling noises therein.  I coax her along the bridle path and pause beneath an oak tree.  That invisible force, the wind, is making its presence known by slowly rocking the heavy boughs back and forth.  The roar of the power passing through the leaves is like the sound of heavy rain or the churning of the sea.  Two black rooks fly above me, repeatedly heading into the rush of air and then pausing, like tethered kites, until they tilt..... and allow themselves to be blown backwards to start again.

I turn to my left and watch the light pass over the compact shapes of distant woods, large solitary trees and undulating hedgerows.  The colours and tones change from moment to moment, as bars of shadow run down the stubble fields and ploughed work.  The hues intensify and dim from second to second - lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off.


All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 6 September 2018


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


6 September


The kestrel is back in the meadow today.  I haven’t seen her for months.  Looking out of the studio window I spy her balancing on the top wire of the stock fencing.  Nearby some crows sit on the posts and the gate.  After a while they decide that she is not welcome, and mob her until she leaves her precarious perch and flies off to the shelter of some nearby trees.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Tuesday, 4 September 2018


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


4 September


Unexpected bird sighting this morning………………




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Monday, 3 September 2018


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


3 September


Peering out of the window at 3.20am, I see thick fog blanketing the village.  By 6am it has thinned and continues to lift, to give a warm, bright and still morning.

Vans from the electricity company are gathering at the end of the lane, as they prepare to begin work on replacing the line of posts and wires that travel across two large fields.  The new ones have been laid out beside the old, looking like giant matchsticks on the earth.

Walking along the southern edge of the wood, I spot two hares running on the stubble field opposite.  They are so busy chasing and leaping, that it is a while before they are aware of us, enabling Millie and I to stand transfixed and watch the show.

There are still quite a few white butterflies around – both on the field margins and in the meadow.  The hot summer has apparently been good for their numbers.  Another creature that may have been enjoying the warmer weather, is the grass snake.  I have found two whilst out walking, and two neighbours in the village have each said that they have found the same number in their respective gardens over recent weeks.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Friday, 31 August 2018


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


31 August


The mist on the windows this morning denotes two things - that the overnight temperatures are dropping and that we don’t have double glazing!

Summer is surreptitiously transitioning into Autumn.  The mornings are darker, the field colour has become a soft, pale, mauve-brown, and the intense heat has been replaced by a more traditionally temperate climate and steady rainfall.

Today, however, Summer seems to be preparing for its last weekend.  The sun is warm on the shoulders and the sky a cloudless blue as we walk.  In a nearby field, the clay is being broken down by a large tractor which is pulling a disc harrow.  Gulls are flying in, attracted by the turning soil, and swallows are diving and low-flying along the lane.  No doubt they will soon begin their exodus.  I shall be sad to see them go.

The oak trees, I notice, are beginning to produce acorns and the hedgerows are decorated with blackberries (not quite ready yet) and jewel-like sloes - each tiny ovoid a glossy aubergine colour, overlaid with a dusting of mid-blue bloom.

The sheep have been moved closer to the farmhouse.  I saw them being walked back on Wednesday; a long line of woolly ovals, trotting along the track, followed by one of the farm staff driving a small vehicle similar to an Italian Ape, and tooting the horn.  The sheep, of course, kept stopping to grab mouthfuls of green en route, as is their wont!

I have been busy preparing for an exhibition requiring 25 paintings, and have just finished a commission.  The show opens tomorrow.  In the studio today, I reorganise the space and begin to get back to the routine of regular painting, in preparation for the next event.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 19 August 2018


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


19 August


The recent rainfall has put the newly cleared field drains to good use.  Two or three heavy storms have deposited large volumes of water in a short space of time.

I am considering the water level in a smooth, wide, clay ditch, when I notice a shape on the left-hand bank.  A slender pinky/brown bird, with a thin pointed beak.  It is sitting perfectly still and is so camouflaged that it is difficult to see against the colour of the soil.  I watch and wait.  Suddenly it takes flight over the surface of the water, revealing its electric blue back and wings.  A kingfisher!

It travels speedily and elegantly along the face of the brook, turning at speed around the sharp right-hand curve of the bank and then up into the cover of some overhanging branches.  It cries out and then flies up into the air again, looping back to the shelter of a dense area of bushes that are growing on the bank near to its original position.

I have seen a kingfisher no more than four times in my life, making this sighting something special.



All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 2 August 2018


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


2 August



One of the benefits of walking early on a summer morning is the potential for an encounter with wildlife.


We are heading downhill, the dew still on the coarse grass.  I am admiring the pale blue of chicory flowers, newly opened in the field to my right, when suddenly there is a sharp tug on the lead.  Millie has picked up a scent and is earnest to pursue it.

She is beginning to pull determinedly now and, being attached by a running lead around my waist, I have little option but to pick up the pace!  I half stumble, half jog my way down the rough track until she comes to a sudden halt.  I manage not to somersault over her (just) and regaining my composure, follow her gaze.  There, to our left, through a hedgerow opening into an adjacent field, are two roe deer.  A male and a female, facing each other, but with their heads now turned towards us.  They can be no more than fifteen metres away.  Backlit by the rising sun, which is peering over the upslope behind them, they are all chestnut glossiness with glowing edges.

We stare at each other for a moment, before Millie’s excited whine sends them to seek cover.  A running roe deer is the most elegant of creatures.  They appear to be weightless – leaping in long, low arcs, hardly touching the surface of the earth before alighting again. They are gone in the blink of an eye. We do not see them again, although I continue to look as we make our way along the path.


The author Diana Athill, writing in her 97th year, describes the experience of sitting and thinking in old age.  Rather than a pitiable state, she finds that it is surprisingly enjoyable – discovering, when her mind relaxes, that events from her past float into her consciousness.  Instead of the lovers and achievements that she expects to focus on, she finds that it is the most beautiful places and things that she has experienced that return to her.   What gives her pleasure in her last years is her rumination on the paintings and views that she has stopped and stared at.  They have been stored away unknowingly, to be paraded before her again and fully enjoyed once more.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 26 July 2018


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


26 July


At 5.30am I open the windows and doors of the old house to let half an hour’s worth of cool air drift through, before setting out to walk.  I will open them again at 7.15am when we return, but by 8 o’clock the blinds will be drawn for the day and the interior of the house kept dark until twilight, when they will be flung open once more.  This daily pattern has become the new normal in this most unusual English summer.

Just up the road, near to Bury St Edmunds, a weather monitoring station has recently recorded the highest temperature (33.3°C) and the lowest rainfall (55 days with less than 1mm) in the UK.  Tomorrow, it is suggested, may break the British record of 38°C, and today looks like it will be a good practice run!

But this morning, at 6am, I am grateful that the open neck of my old linen shirt scoops up the fresh air. There is a musty, damp smell rising from the ground, where the dew is still on the grass.  The moisture sneaks into my battered running shoes, through a hole in the toe.  Can’t say I mind.  The last remnant of a layer of mist is disappearing above the western horizon.

Amongst the trees, the tapping of a woodpecker echoes in the stillness.  It sounds like a lone, distant workman, effecting some unseen repair.

Out on the dusty track, a farm vehicle passes me on its way to deliver more water to the sheep.  The tractor bumps along and the driver greets me with a sleepy wave.  From the droppings on the path it looks as if the deer recently travelled this way too.  I wonder if they attempt to share the rations?

The hares are about as usual and a couple of partridges run ahead of us.  They look like two misty little skittles, wobbling their way hurriedly uphill towards the light.

Just before home, we pass one of the sheep fields.  Some are already tucking into a pile of hay.  It would normally be their autumn/winter rations.  This really is turning out to be a year of extreme weather!




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


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


17 July


Last night, alerted by a tapping sound on the roof, we opened the kitchen doors and were met by the earthy smell of rain.  It was 10.30pm.  I walked the length of the garden and stood in the twilight, looking out over the fields at the narrow, orange arc of the moon, and let the heavy droplets fall on me.  It was over all too soon, but was so good while it lasted!

This morning is breezy and blue.  Small white fists of cloud scud across the sky and the air is cool.  We set out just after 7am and walk approximately three and a half miles.

On the dusty bridle path near the wood, I observe the dark polka dot pattern of last night’s large raindrops still evident on its surface – as if the soil has held them there, just to treasure them for a bit longer.

By 8.10am the sun is already feeling hot, but I have planned our route so that the last section will be in shade. A buzzard flies languorously above us, casting the shadow of its great wingspan onto the land below.

We reach the lane at the bottom of the hill and wind our way along.  Millie stops periodically to check out flattened areas of the verge, where the deer have crossed from field to field.  There is still some water at the bottom of the deep, tree-covered ditch.

Further along, the land rises again, and here the drainage is being improved.  It may not seem relevant now, but when I think back to the winter, it is all too necessary.  A digger has cleared another deep, narrow ditch (it looks as if it descends steeply about three metres) and three dead trees have been removed.  I can see the open ends of two large pipes (the land drains) jutting out of the smooth, cut side of the opposite bank.  Before being cleared, the bed of this deep-set brook ran between gnarled tree roots and was overhung with lianas and twisted branches.  In parts it looked more like a sunken lane from a hobbit adventure.  Now the base and one side are composed of shiny, compacted clay.  They will speed the autumn rains on their way.

As we reach the top of the hill, the swallows are skimming the surface of the cropped clover at high speed, in pursuit of their in-flight meals.

We head back home and I into the studio to begin again a day’s painting.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 15 July 2018


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


15 July


The last time that I seem to have recorded any rainfall was on 12 June, and that was just a light shower, refreshing an already parched landscape.  I have almost forgotten that earthy smell of long-awaited rain when it falls.  I’m hoping that this week I will experience it again.

The harvest has begun early, with some straw already baled.  Everything is bleached and tinder-dry – the crops, the lawns, the verges.  The leaves of the huge horse-chestnut tree on the green are hanging limply and many are covered in brown scales.  It all needs rain.

The butterflies, however, are loving the warm sunshine.  Small blues, large whites, peacocks, red admirals, small tortoiseshells, ringlets and gate keepers abound.  They especially love the pinky/purple flowers of the oregano, both in the garden and that which has escaped into the meadow.

Mrs Blackbird lands noisily on a post in front of me.  She does a pirouette, whilst nabbing an insect.  As she turns, I can see that the feathers on her rear end are scruffy and loose – no doubt she is moulting.  The only birdsong on this baking hot afternoon is the cheep-cheep of sparrows and the rippling little voices of the goldfinches.  Meanwhile I sit in the shade and write my notes, dive-bombed by butterflies and listening to the electrified “zzzzzz” of the grasshoppers.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 8 July 2018


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


8 July


Lepus the hare is out in force this morning.  We see seven on our early walk, including two separate incidents in which the individuals come lolloping down the dusty track towards us, only to be surprised by the presence of two people and a short-sighted whippet!  In what looks like a “yikes!” cartoon moment, both pause, stare, and then swiftly do a 180 degree change of direction, showing us the soles of their long, narrow feet.

The crops are ripening rapidly now and I saw the first harvested field yesterday.  It seems as if the entire landscape is turning to the colour of pale straw.

In the meadow, a few ox-eye daisies are still to be seen, now accompanied by the occasional splash of red from a newly opened poppy.  Mauve thistle heads are providing food for the goldfinches and the spikey, purple flowers of knapweed are beginning to appear.  We have laid out three shallow water bowls, refreshing them daily.  Butterflies have been sipping delicately from them and the blackbird with no tail (now growing again) helps himself to a drink before foraging amongst the tall stems adjacent to the path.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Monday, 2 July 2018


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


2 July


Millie and I are still employing our “earlier and further” walking routine.  The hot weather continues, with no end currently in sight.  The grass is cool and dewy in the shadow of the hedgerow, and we can keep up a comfortably brisk pace without breaking into a sweat.

Much to Millie’s disappointment, rabbit-ville is devoid of occupants this morning.  She still performs her low “stealth” walk – just in case!

We take in the sights from the meandering little lane at the bottom of the valley, and I am pleased to note that the stream that runs beneath the old cart bridge still has water in it.  No doubt this is due to the enclosed tree tunnel which sits above it, providing constant shade.  Watering holes for the wildlife must be getting sparse by now.

On the way back uphill, towards the church, the sheep in the field on the left are huddled under the shadow of a large oak.  They fit themselves together, like a woolly jigsaw, in order to form its exact shape.  They always remind me of the paintings of Samuel Palmer when I see them thus.

By the afternoon, the meadow sounds as if it has been plugged into the mains.  The continuous, electrified “zzzzzzzz....” is being emitted by innumerable grasshoppers, whilst velvety brown Ringlet butterflies flit over the surface of its biscuit-coloured stems.

Thankfully, however, there is a considerable breeze, and looking out beyond the grasses and wildflowers, a vast field of pale green barley on the opposite side of the valley is being combed by the wind.  It is flicking over the surface and forming almost white waves.  We have an inland sea view!




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Tuesday, 26 June 2018


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


26 June


When I look out, shortly before dawn, there is layer of mist floating just above the earth.  A band of soft-focus, hovering between grass and sky.  Our little valley has become a sea, and the wood, an island.  The billowing green of two large oaks that pierce the grey, appear as the sails of galleons.

The sunrise brings bright light and saturated colour.  Millie and I go out earlier than usual, in order to avoid the heat and to walk whilst the hedges still afford some shade.  The paths where I once slipped and slid through mud, are dry and dusty.  They crumble underfoot.  There is a crunching sound as I walk. 

Other sounds – the jingle of Millie’s harness; the light tap of her little feet on the pale clay; the chirping of hedgerow birds and the song of a wren; the grasshoppers “zzzz-ing” and the deep “baaaaah” of distant sheep, interspersed with the higher-pitched “beh-he-heh” of maturing lambs.  They have stripped the pasture of every stem of clover.  They will soon be on the move.  But for now they cluster around the bowser, or gather beneath the trees for shade.



All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 24 June 2018


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


24 June


Everything is beginning to dry out in the heat.  The tops of the meadow grasses are golden brown and many of the corn crops look as if they are starting to turn.  With high temperatures forecast, and no rain for the foreseeable future, it looks as if the harvest may be early this year.

There are more butterflies than ever amongst the grasses.  As I sit here, writing, they are fluttering haphazardly across the tops of the seed heads and flowers in the field.  In the distance, there is what my father would have called a “heat wobble” - a visual disturbance, just above the surface of the earth, caused by the high temperature.  The butterflies look even more erratic, as they waver through it.

Some scuttling, to my left, most likely signifies the presence of a mouse rummaging around in a heap of ivy-covered logs, whilst our resident blackbird (the one with the missing tail feathers) is singing his fruity little song in the holly tree.  He has grown so tame, since raising his family in the garden, that he dares to come very close.  He has taken to sitting on the fence, just above my head, and to serenading us. On a garden table, 2 meters away, we have set out a water bowl.  He appears on the fence opposite and then flies over to the wooden surface.  His egg-yolk yellow beak is open, as if to let out the heat within.  With admirable boldness, he hops across the tabletop and onto the edge of the ceramic container, to enjoy a lengthy drink.  Then, with his thirst quenched, he moves to the shelter of the blousy, perfumed Philadelphus, in order to perform his song-cycle once again.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


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


20 June


Grey clouds blowing across a verdant patchwork of landscape.  Different shades of softness, illuminated here, and then there.

Every day threatens rain, but none comes.  The earth in the fields is cracked - openings as wide as my thumb.  If we don’t get some moisture soon, crop yields will be down.  Especially after the snow-delayed Spring.

A buzzard glides above the sheep field and finches chatter in the hedgerows.  The air is temperate.

As I leave the lane behind and set off uphill, I hear only the skylarks and the wind.  The wood sounds like the sea.

On a path along the edge of an oat field, I count five Meadow Brown butterflies - alighting, ascending, alighting, ascending - ahead of us as we walk.

Then home through the barley; the wind rippling the green, velvet surface.  Waves passing over us.




All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

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


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

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


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

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


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

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


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/

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


http://anartistinthelandscape.blogspot.co.uk/