04 Walk round, find a view

Having walked as far as I can along the back garden it must be time to try going the other way to find a scene to paint. So its back along the grass, through the arch and onto the flagged area by the cotoneaster bush.

Here the garden opens up views to the west dominated by the village church with its spire pointing heavenwards. In the foreground there are some small steps, a cobbled area of ground then the base of a hedge complete with bramble bushes the rapidly growing stems of which lead my eye up towards the church spire. I don’t feel that this scene is an interesting picture -at least not today -but elements of it could be developed.

Starting at the nearest, lowest part are the steps. They’ve obviously been there for many years as the vegetation growing round the edge is well established. I should perhaps zoom in on this and do a study of the contrast between the vegetation with the different tones of varied leaves and the solid edges of the stones which make up the steps.

The area of level ground above the steps has been fashioned using placed stone in a cobble fashion. This could make make a nice abstract edge to a study of the steps or be a subject in its own right. The latter presents more challenges than the initial brief suggests. I’ll need to decide on how high my viewpoint is, at what angle I’ll be looking, do I want to distort any of the surface to add interest, change colours, tone or even the shapes. Yes quite a lot of potential here.

I mentioned the new shoots from the bramble bushes. I think this haas more to do with a photographer’s eye than a painter’s. With a photo I might keep the shoots pointing up to the sky in sharp focus and have the church spire out of focus. With the correct lighting this could be nice. More conventionally I could reverse that and keep the spire in focus using the bramble shoots a a frame. But that sounds a bit boring. As a painter I’d probably concentrate on the spire. Whether to include the shoots may depend on the overall effect of the scene. The usual temptation would be to frame using the shoots but this my be an accession where less is more – in other words let the shoots mentally frame the scene while it’s being painted, but don’t include them in the picture. This wash viewers will be seeing the scene focussed on the spire but without knowing they are being persuaded to look at that spot but invisible framing. That’s an idea I’d like to develop further , but not today.

If my idea is to paint the church I’ll need to decide which of three kinds of picture I’m going for. There’s the straightforward record shot which shows what I’m seeing from this viewpoint. Useful for sketches and information purposes. The second approach would be the chocolate box approach where we’re painting a pretty scene which would illustrate something like a card or packaging. The third idea would be to examine the church in greater detail and interpret what one sees . This could produce an abstract scene, a collage from different area s of the structure or an attempt at the message to the building is delivering x perhaps inviting perhaps threatening perhaps kindly perhaps sad. Throw in a change in th e weather and there’s a lot think about. But I find that exciting.

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