We almost succeeded with our tomatoes this year, but they are reluctant to ripen, so the Hovel is scattered with piles of reddening fruits in every corner. Yesterday autumn came moaning down the chimney, cloaked in grey. My heart lifted and things in my head clunked back into place. For the first time in weeks I felt the urge to stomp across the fields and indulge in artistic scribblings. Squeezing out a limited tertiary-ish palette and grabbing a few implements, I almost scampered up the street, as the rain clouds squatted overhead and the air smelled moistly earthen.
There seem to be a lot of cows about this year - more than last. I don't mind cows - milkers are fine. It's bullocks of a Certain Age I loathe. Like fourteen year old yobs, they try to hustle you, belligerently glaring and kicking the dirt. "Oy, you - looking at ME?" . To my dismay, the same herd which had been occupying my favourite walk all summer were still there. But bigger. And with even more attitude. There was a gate between us though, so I decided to turn my misfortune round and whiled away 15 minutes drawing the brutes.
There was a horrid moment when they came right up to see what I was doing. Mutual mistrust on both sides. But I do like the shape of cows; such satisfying bellies to draw. And typically, just as I was starting to enjoy myself, they lost interest and wandered off...leaving the way clear for me to continue.
It's quite odd to go from colourful, tight fantasy illustration to drawing or painting something right in front of you. And something I am much in need of. I had an itch to paint, but wasn't sure what. I was within a mile of the village when I decided just to plonk myself down, stop looking for the perfect subject and 'do' whatever there was in sight. It started to drizzle. I set myself the achievable goal of two five minute watercolour sketches, the only aim being to enjoy myself with the techniques and not get wound up with trying to create a masterpiece.
And they weren't; these initial 'notes' are the bits you don't often see; they aren't particularly pretty, and they certainly aren't minutely and factually observed. But I wanted to capture the atmosphere and movement of the seedheads and grasses, and also to let rip with a bit of freestyle scrawling. These are for me. It was fun. I don't really care about the end bits, it was the getting there that mattered; scratched the itch. Then it got damper and thoughts of a pot of tea began to distract me. An hour later I was sat cosy at my desk, working at my present paying job - a brightly cheerful and eye-bustingly intricate poster of baby mermaids for the 5-7 magazine. I yearned to be back on the edge of the fields in the wind and rain, scratching away in the gloom.