March has been a sunny month with only one seriously wet day so far … I made myself do my round walk this week to take photos for painting material, but it was really a bit too much. is it just old age that’s making it so hard to get my strength back after all this long viral infection, or is this virus really more aggressive?

still very sad not to have my woolly little grey shadow with me, she ghosts my walks, such as they are.

at the bottom of Blood hill (apparently there was a civil war action there) there are ditches smothered in primroses

a wet part of the village, where a small shallow valley begins and the wood fills the wettest parts

you look up the hill to a horizon that hides the houses, where the rubbish scattered on the fields of a Romano-british farm turns up as pieces of worn ceramic.

I saw three large hares still in their thick winter coats

I am very sad that this track may soon disappear now the land belongs to a big agribusiness firm. once this huge open field was a patchwork of smaller ones, with trees and hedges, but “improvements” in the sixties removed all that.

cakes lane trees border the plough, there’s a painting in that.

closer in, the pattern of the trees and hedges and the lines of the plough are seductive.

in the green lane there are violets

and more flayed hedge. closer in, this photo invites a painting too.

my current “thing” is all the jackets of ivy the trees wear. it turns them into anthropomorphic shapes in the winter.

there’s a family group here ….

and the primroses are perfect.

another temptation.

here is the beginning of a cakes lane ivy tree painting. I have been using a warm tan base colour for the last few.

a layer of strong blue to help the sky

thickly painted with a knife at the top, green in the sky;

then over again with more blues, and the foreground/lower part very lightly brushed in with thin washes. where the paint is thick it has marks carved into it with the knife.

this scene is from the opposite direction of the first painting I did of the lane after it was flayed – the holly tree was the focal point.

always first the charcoal drawing, to get the feel of the tonal values and the shape of things.

which is simplified in the first pass

here it is, finished.

a close-up of the passage between the holly tree and the hedge tree – skating over previous brushwork with the palette knife …

mark-making and layers of colour

zooming in – the heart of the painting ….

at home, I have snakeshead fritillaries on my table, pots which I will plant out in my tiny wildflower meadow – in imitation of Magdalen college’s famous water meadow in Oxford.