The weather outside is frightful

Monday February 21, 2005

We’re having a period of snowy weather just now, with gloomy weather forecasters predicting dire stuff yet to come as the winds shift round from the west to a north-easterly direction, bringing freezing air in from Siberia by way of central Europe and over the icy North Sea.

Which is fine. I’m fortunate enough to live in a good, solid, weatherproof house that’s as warm as I want to make it, so I can look out of the window and dream along as much as I like without suffering cold and wet. Yesterday I was up and about early, to view the world as if from the inside of a snow globe, and there was a good fall, covering houses and gardens with a gentle, visually forgiving quilt of snow.

And then the sun came out. Blue skies prevailed, filled with fluffy white cloud, and the steam started to rise as dark patches appeared in the fields and on the roads, joined together, and drove the melting snow down into the water courses. There was a constant drip-drop-drip, gathering in pace, never stopping, directionless because it was all about us, rather like the quiet movement of a restless contemporary symphony in the ‘concrete’ style.

There were snow showers throught the day and on into the evening, but they were fighting a losing battle.

When I woke this morning the sun was shining again and, though there’d been a heavy frost overnight, rendering pathways and roads treacherous with icy patches, the melt continued. By early afternoon, when I ventured out to Spilsby for the post office, bread and milk, the road was pretty well dry, with only a few dangerous slick parts to catch the unwary driver. There wasn’t much traffic about; sensible people don’t drive on icy roads unless they have to and when, like me, they have to make a trip, they tend to wait for the optimum time and to drive slowly and carefully.

I suppose I ought to have walked up the lane, camera and sketchbook at the ready, and I did try. The going was risky, though, and I didn’t feel at all sure of my footing. So my walk was cancelled, swiftly and wisely. I do not fancy slipping and falling over. As a young ‘un, I thought nothing of a minor fall, picking myself up, dusting myself off and treading onward. Now, a lot heavier in bulk, more fragile in bone and joints, and lacking the muscle tone I once enjoyed, a fall, no matter how minor, is a serious matter, causing me much upset, and leaving me feeling unsure and unsteady for days. Can’t be doing with that.

So I came home, pulled out my sketchbook, and drew some of what I know of snow in the rural and urban landscape. Exercises only, exploring memories, recording shapes and tones for some future paintings. Every time pen and pencil is used, and washes applied, visual memory is enhanced, forming a reference library not just in the mind but in the fingers, too. Somehow, fingers seem to learn the gestures needed to make the brush work as extension to memory and vision. Results are important, but no where near so much as the inexhaustible thrill of creating, of making a statement on paper.

Hey ho. Mustn’t get carried away. Lots of other stuff to do…

 


'96
Art class study: snowy garden, after Utrillo
watercolour, watercolour pencil and gouache on paper


 

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