Thorp Perrow Residency 2024 January Late winter
The arboretum glistens with raindrops. My first visit is shrouded with heavy rain. The downpour persist all day and so I find myself walking in silence through the park bearing witness to the emergence of a trillion awakening buds .January 31st is all about promise .
New life is everywhere it peeks along nets of straggly bare branches , it graces the ground in carpets of skyward shoots , it sits dormant and eager for its day beneath sodden soil on a rainy Monday. That threat of the imminent explosion of colour to see off the harshness of winter has me excited , I am so glad I caught this because it fits so perfectly with the beginning of a new project . With every image on the camera I see a painting. the colour range is vast but the pallet of this month is clear to me there's russet , browns, golds, purple it's rich and cold all at once and i'm wildly inspired to get back to the studio and put paint to canvas.
The weather clears and for the next days I am free to paint en plein air. I work with my oils on scraps of linen and Fabriano paper sketching in the tapestry of colours and shapes I see all around. The vista is huge and overwhelming the scene busy and chaotic yet all the while completely harmonious. I find myself occasionally stepping back to enjoy the graphic simplicity of the twists and turns of branches silhouetted against the sky and relish the reaction others are having when they too see the signs of Springs approach.
As I work on my sketches , alternating between the cool grey of the linen and the stark white oil paper I am already beginning to make decisions about background , composition and grounds for my final series . I love the sense of freedom I have found in the total absence of a horizon and find joy in the energetic and expressive rhythm that flows so freely from the brush.
Before I leave I stray off the beaten track to investigate the hunks of freshly turned earth heaved out by the roots of a fallen tree .Just as I hoped , there I find my colours. I discover chunks of yellow ochre that's beautifully rich and soft enough to process and tomorrow I will begin transforming it into the first of my Thorp Perrow earth paints .
Late January was enchanting , hopeful and bursting with snowdrops I have loved my time here and cannot wait to return in Spring now iv'e seen the trailer.