Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

En plein air

summer•shorts no:03

Did you see the BBC TV programme about David Hockney painting in Yorkshire*? I thought, 'I don't do enough of that - looking and painting outside in the open air'. Art historians call it en plein air, I don't think Hockney uses that phrase. I was struck by the fact that the wild young man of 'Swinging London' and Californian pool-sides had come home; he is a dour, opinionated Yorkshireman in a flat cap and probably always has been – that made me smile.

Today I took my lunch, paints and sketchbook out into the fields. This is a route we walk often and over the past few weeks I've been 'mind-sketching' the softly undulating fields and placing the woods and copses within the space. I'd thought about the colours changing as the summer approaches its climax. It was like a niggling itch in my mind – I needed to put brush to paper.

This is today's painting of Littley Wood under a sky full of scudding clouds.

* the programme is available to watch online until 4 August


  1. I always feel that I should paint outside but somehow the impracticalities of rain and onlookers always put me off. I did manage to do a little on holiday in Italy several summers ago.

    I think you have captured the colours in the landscape very well.

    Did you ever see David Hockney's Tv series about artist's and the camera? It was fascinating, especially when he showed how dutch masterpieces were done with the aid of a camera obscura.

  2. Thank you Acornmoon - Yes I did see that TV series - and I have the book too, it's fascinating and although a lot of art historians thought Hockney had a bee in his bonnet about it, I think it made perfect sense.


  3. Lovely Celia. It makes me want to go outside and paint. Instead I'm bogged down with work and planning... roll on August! I am having a sneaky break to catch up reading my favourite blogs though.

  4. This is exactly how the Impressionists got started. Love it!

  5. Grand to have you share what you saw and captured with your eye, paints and brushes. Really grand.

    You are inspiring me to try to find time to get outdoors myself. Day off tomorrow ... think that rain is in the forecast.

    About DH. I always liked his drawing and his etchings and his way, for a number of decades,of capturing what as what, wherever it was.

    Once I did attend a lecture he gave at the Met here in New York, and somehow was a bit disappointed. By then, he was obviously quite deaf, and carefully chose what he wanted to hear.

    Would have been better to have let his art do the talking. I do agree that he might just not have ever gotten too far away from Yorkshire.

    Let me sign off with more praise of what I see in your photo. xo

  6. I love this picture and I love the clouds.

  7. I saw that imagine programme and it really made me think. I liked the way he put a series of canvases together into one huge image.
    I've sketched outside but never painted -how funny is that- never thought to do it.
    Your picture really evokes the season and the countryside around here.

  8. No, I didn't see the programme, but will try to catch up with your link to i-Player. A lovely painting from a lady who has great talent! x

  9. Love this post. Didn't see our dour, opinionated hero, but I keep meaning to get out there and do it!! In haste, regards F

  10. Hi Gina - go on! get the paint box out :-)

    Hi Ed - I MUST do this more often, working from photos just flattens the whole experience.

    Hi Frances - how interesting to go to Hockney's lecture at the Met - even though he was cantankerous!

    Thank you Kayla coo - I'm pleased with the clouds too.

    Hi Rhiannon - I think that's why I like Hockney - he makes me think about looking at things.

    Hi Louise - it's definitely worth watching.

    Hi Woodland Fay - the landscape is alive and changing all the time, it's an exercise in capturing a sensation and a moment in time.

    Must practice more...



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