Thursday, 31 January 2019

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


January started crisp and bright, with blue skies and little air movement.  During that first week, we watched a covey of partridges, and numerous pheasants, taking off on the sloped fields, followed by much gliding downhill.  Both breeds seem to prefer running to flying.  This is not always an asset.

We walked the airfield route and, whilst coming back through the tree tunnel, saw a white barn owl float in at the other end, before it turned to our right and disappeared silently into a perpendicular hedgerow.

The following week was largely grey and mild, but now bright and cold weather has returned. 

17 January 

The first snow of winter.   Large flakes begin to fall heavily, just prior to 8am, creating a light covering.  I have to scrape the frozen remnant off the van windscreen at 10am.

En route to Hartest I see a herd of 12 - 15 deer, standing stock-still in the sunshine at the top of a sloped field, in the lee of a high hedge.  Snow is still on the lawn, when I return at 12.30pm.

18 January 

A hare, running across the green, curved surface of a spelt field.  We are high up, and beyond it are layers of land, receding into the misty distance.

19 January 

A large bird of prey, sitting in a small tree, in a scraggy hedgerow.  She surveys a field below, which is a regular haunt of hares.  We’ve been a bit confused recently by raptor sightings in which the bird’s body seems equal to a buzzard, but the wings look too short.  Now that we’ve had a closer look at the white face and barred markings, we are wondering if it is a goshawk.  There have certainly been sightings in this area.

20 January 

Frost today.  A good covering of rime that has refused to budge, even by lunchtime.  It will not disappear now.  Sparkling sunshine and very little air movement, which makes it much more comfortable to be outside than yesterday’s windy, grey gloom.

Tonight there is a supermoon due, which is combined with a total eclipse.  This should create a blood moon, which will be at its reddest between 5.45 and 6.45am tomorrow morning. It has been called a “super blood wolf moon”.  The “wolf” bit apparently refers to the term for full moons in January.

21 January 

Having set up the camera and tripod before going to bed, I rise just after 5.30am to find that a cloud layer has completely obscured the sky.  Only ten years to wait until the next one.

24 January 

A trip to Snape Maltings to meet the gallery manager, who had contacted me just prior to Christmas.  We are to discuss the possibility of me showing some work there.  Before setting out there is a snow shower.  The old van chugs off toward the coast.  When we park at the arts centre, the weather is FREEZING cold and damp.  Great slabs of fractured and tilted ice cling to the river bank at the water’s edge and there is a cutting breeze.

After a tour of the gallery and a brief chat, I agree to provide some paintings for May/June, before heading briskly to the coffee shop in order to warm up!

25 January 

After lunch, the photographer Lucy Toms arrives.  She has asked if I will participate in a project to record and exhibit images of artists in their studios.  She is genial and lively, and makes the whole experience enjoyable.  I begin a new piece of work, whilst she gets on with hers – doing a brilliant job of negotiating the confines of the very small, packed, studio.  Millie-the-whippet is curled up amidst cosy blankets in the armchair, and appears to take her modelling job totally in her stride.  All in a day’s work!

27 January 

Just after breakfast, we are looking out of the kitchen doors, when we see two hares running across the face of the hundred-acre field.

The sunny start gives way to cloud and strong winds.  The garden birds bustle about, perching on the swinging feeders and taking white berries from the shrubs.  The speeding air roars through the skeletal trees on the other side of the lane.  The swaying branches look like great hands, clawing desperately at the grey sky.

30 January

It snowed overnight and then froze.  Down by the Hall, Brock-the-badger’s footprints are preserved in crystalline white, meandering in and out of the small wood.

31 January

In addition to the lying snow, the morning mist has turned to hoar frost on the hedges and leafless trees.  It glitters in the sunlight.  Patches of fog persist in some places, smudging the blue sky.  By the airfield wood, a heron, flying slowly through one such area, becomes gradually visible above the surface of an adjacent field, before melting again into the grey.  It is silent and ghostly.

All text & images ©2019 Carol Saunderson