Sunday, June 10, 2012

Valley, Box Hill

oil on canvas 51 x 51cm

We were in Surrey visiting my brother in November, and he took us to Box Hill to get some photo references. I was busy snapping away at the sunlit areas when I remembered the landscape Golden Rule – ‘Look Behind You’ – and there was this cold little valley.

The sharp ‘V’ was slightly uncomfortable, and asymmetric; the dark fir trees seemed quite threatening, but you’d have to pass them to get to the sunlit area further on. I needed some scale, so I got Madam to walk along the path while I took more pictures, and when I looked at them later, I realised that I had a complete idea. I added the foreground sunlight and small scary bushes from other photographs of the day, and that was that.

Technically this piece is quite interesting. For some reason, there was a three-month gap before the finishing session, and the paint had dried hard. The new thin oil application beaded up on it and didn’t sit happily. I had heard of an old remedy for this which I’d never tried – wipe the surface with a cut onion (or garlic). However unlikely this sounds, it does work, and the new layer goes on like a charm.

As far as I know, goblins don’t exist, and there haven’t been wolves in England since the 15th Century. I get the impression though, that Madam, in her Big Red Shawl, isn’t so sure…

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