When looking for landscape subjects to sketch, sometimes there seems to be nothing, at other times everything seems to scream potential. I tend to overlook the obviously pretty landscape in favour of patterns and rhythms that catch my eye – the organic freeform mass of a tree balanced by a neat, man-made straight line for example. In this Hertfordshire lane, sketched in the late afternoon, the tree and pole frame the road
as it winds down the hill and away to the right with hedges either side.
The sun is shining through a haze of thin cloud, strong enough to cast a shadow but not enough to give a bleached out, high contrast. The school run is about to start as a yellowhammer sings from the wire.
Hertfordshire hedges with yellowhammer, watercolour, June 23 Hazy afternoon sun
No time like the present they say, so despite the sun having gone down and darkness fast approaching, when I came across this jumble of poles near a farm in Essex I had to stop and produce a rapid watercolour, racing against both the fading light and the bugs which were giving me no mercy. The roadside vegetation was uncut and shoulder high, and the newly surfaced road had neat white lines at the edges, accentuating the bend away to the left. I used mainly Naples yellow and lamp black with a tiny amount of cobalt blue, spending only five or six minutes on it as the unwelcome attention of the biting insects was literally affecting what I was doing! Actually I think they helped in a way…suffer for your art eh?
This sketch is of a similar arrangement of telegraph poles across a lane as the sun’s orange glow reflects on the hard surfaces. What attracts me to this type of scene is the rhythm of verticals but with obvious imperfection, the control with a little chaos thrown in, held together by the wires (important but kept as low key pencil lines) and in contrast to the mass of the vegetation in all its high summer green glory, turning to blues in the distance.