Coombe Hill Series
During 2011/12 I created a series of paintings of the same view, painted at roughly weekly intervals throughout the year, a collection of images recording the changes in the seasons. I chose a view out across Coombe near my home. Each painting is 40 X 50cm and took a couple of hours to paint working on the hill in oil paint directly from life. Below are the images in the order in which I painted them. Click on an image to see a larger version and a description of that day's working conditions.
'Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience; to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it.
He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind.
He ought to recollect the glare of the moon and the colours of the dawn and dusk.'
From 'The Earth' a poem by Navarre Scott Momaday
Some Thoughts On Reaching The End
I get rather emotional thinking about finishing the project, it has been so close to my heart and brought together so many of the things I hold dear, I have loved every minute of it. I know I will return to record exceptional weather events. It is ironic that in a year that has seen record levels of rain throughout the summer I never made a painting in the rain, not knowing how to fix up some kind of temporary shelter, I must put that right and add a rain painting to the series.
There is news of a new disease affecting ash trees that has arrived here in Britain from the continent. When starting this series I had no idea my record of the landscape represents it as it may never be seen again. If the disease takes hold here many of the trees in my view will disappear.
You may also be interested to hear news of my companion on the hill, the big black Welsh bull. Despite assurances from the farmer I have always been a little nervous of the bull, especially when he has decided to come close and sniff and snort at me and my painting equipment, but he has never been more than curious. Now I hear that he escaped from the hill and out onto Adey’s lane. A friend saw him steaming and snorting, pushing through the hedge into the field above Streamsfield where there were some cows. Not quite so docile after all.
The paintings are to be exhibited along with the text at Under The Edge Arts, Chipping Hall, Wotton-under-Edge on 12th and 13th January 2013 and at Newark Park (National Trust house) Ozleworth near Wotton from 2nd March to 28th April 2013. They are to be featured in Country Living magazine some time early in 2013.
I am not selling the original paintings as I hope to continue to exhibit them at other venues in their entirety. I am making oil painted copies of the originals for sale and have already completed many. Ironically, although it takes just a few hours to paint the originals the copies take several days. When painting out in the landscape I have to be true to my subject but painting at such speed there has to be an acceptable margin of difference. When painting a copy every mark and colour has to exactly the same as the original whilst still capturing it's energy and spirit, in some ways it requires much more skill. If you are interested in having any copies made then do get in touch through the contacts page of this website. Each painting is painted in oil on canvas and the size is the same as the originals, 40cm x 50cm.
Thanks for accompanying me on this journey.
It is now February 2019 and I have just given away the entire set of Coombe Hill paintings to the Met Office Archive in Exeter. I have made and sold 20 copies from the original paintings but it is unlikely I will find a buyer for the complete set of 52 original pictures. 10 years ago I visited the Met Office to research a project to do with climate change for the National Trust, it was a beautiful new building with art about climate and weather all round the building. I recently offered the paintings to the Met Office and am delighted that the pictures are to become part of a huge archive of of weather related treasures including weather charts used in planning the D Day campaign, records from Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition of 1911 - 1912 and Captain Cook’s illustrations to his voyage to the Pacific Ocean from 1785. I am delighted the set of paintings will stay together and available for research and display and accessible online for the foreseeable future.