I thought it was high time I headed back outdoors to do some painting having spent the last couple of weeks ‘wrestling’ with some studio pieces. For me, painting outside is the ultimate in being connected to the moment. In the studio it can often feel like the plug has been disconnected. It’s as though I need the energy of the subject to feed. It feels much more natural, instinctive and things seem to ‘flow’. I’m looking forward to heading out more and more as the spring weather improves.

This was done in the rain yesterday on the bank of the river Ouse at Buckingham. I thought the weir was interesting but knew it would be tricky to make it balance with the rest of the piece. I searched for a spot that wasn’t dependent on the sunshine as I knew there was some wet stuff heading in. It started raining after about 20 mins so I left the painting by a tree, went back to the car to get the easel umbrella and came back to carry on the session.

Passers by kept looking down at me from the bridge. ‘Look at that crazy guy trying to paint in the rain’ I could imagine them saying. One had a lovely red umbrella which I couldn’t resist. It’s such a great thing when little incidentals like that pop up. Little did they know they provided a nice focal point :o) I had to be careful with values and temperature. The balance is much more refined in overcast conditions. The trickiest part was probably the bridge, owing to the local colour of the bricks which were warm but in the cool light had to be carefully controlled. I wanted it to sit comfortably within its surroundings and try to say something about the moist veil of atmosphere.

The foaming water was also interesting and I was surprised by the amount of yellow there was under the frothy waves. It must come from the base of the river. I was pleased in the end that the painting had a coherence and I’d avoided the dreaded ‘drabness’ that can easily descend. This, unlike some of my recent studio pieces, will thankfully not be filed in the bin :o)