The track past the allotments and desirable north Winchester residences leads to a footbridge at a farm gate. Beyond this the path is narrow between fence and stream. Un-gloving my hands I make a quick sketch of the northern end of Winnall Moors.
The fingers are too cold to allow more than a sketchy impression. A magnificent Buzzard quarters the field to my left, close enough to see the colours and patterns on its broad variegated wings and fanned tail.
I'm reflecting on my studio output - not enough for my liking - and wondering where my work will take me next.
I have made some charcoal and oil 'paintings' on primed paper experimenting with observational drawing/layering and surface.
Quick drawing in charcoal, achieved with a few strokes of the charcoal stick over an old piece of letter-press, primed with acrylic primer and washed over with oil washes, diluted with turps.
(From overhead, a female Sparrowhawk flies down the hedgerow and settles in a tree about 80 metres ahead. She is looking at me. I am looking at her).
I used a similar approach in the red painting - then layered over the top some text and drawing in crayon - based upon images from the '15-day process' project and woodcut/letterpress work.
The next monotype over a dramatic painted canvas took this idea further. 'GREENWOODPECKER' Has been a constant companion for a few months. Once the time has been invested in carving letters for a woodcut block it is hard not to use them everywhere. In this case I reversed the text onto a photocopy and then drew onto the back of the canvas, laid over almost-dry relief ink to impress the letters and drawing onto the surface of the canvas.
(I think Long-tailed Tits are among my favourite birds. Matt Sewell has described them as 'tiny clouds in track-suits'. In the winter they hang around in gangs and are constantly on the move. A bunch of them is feeding close to where I stand.)
There is a long way to go in thinking-through my creative process. In the last three months it has taken-in aspects of the random to generate compositional strategies selecting elements by random numerical process. I made some progress when I tried to scale this up to a room-sized installation.
This brought together a lot of the ideas into one place. I need to extend this to bigger work and also to extend the vocabulary of my mark-making to emphasise and contrast the variation between fine-drawing and gestural painting, clean lines and dribbly splashes of colour. I was pleased when I took the sheets of paper off the wall that some stood up as compositions in their own right.
Reminiscent of Freud's work 'on dreams' - the image is made up of disparate, unrelated elements.
(Returning across the playing fields, onto the Wildlife Reserve, a Water Rail is squealing in the snow-draped sedge-bed. Although I have seen them elsewhere, I have never set eyes on a Water Rail on Winnall Moors. I hear it often but it's just about being in the right place at the right time - and being there regularly helps increase the chances).
I am really pleased that this random-process drawing and the small monotype on canvas will be included in an exhibition in Bracknell, in February - about which more later.
The other thing I am contemplating is how walking and experiencing the landscape influences and informs my work. There is a conference in Sunderland this summer that looks at this subject. I want to investigate this more closely and integrate my outdoor and studio work.
(39 bird species found in a two-hour walk, not bad - but several obvious suspects are missing - House Sparrow, Starling, Reed Bunting, Rook!)