It always starts with a sketch like this one

This is a picture of a commonplace landscape that most people would not give a second look. We often drive along the A285 in Sussex., characterised by apparently thick woodland. Occasionally this gives way to belts of trees through which you can glimpse the fields beyond. The ground under the tree seems to be quite boggy and full of fallen timber. There are often little ruined sheds or bits of abandonded farm machinery in these places and sometimes there are wild animals as well.


I spend a lot of my time when driving looking out for wildlife,both on the ground and in the sky, so I tend to defocus and look through the landscape for an inconsistency which tells me something is there. On one trip something about the winter light made me want to remember how it looked on this afternoon. I have tried to find words for this: it was a charismatic moment of insight.


Some time later I set down my recollection in an A5 wirebound sketchbook which I use to record visual ideas. So this is not drawn from life in situ but drawn from memory and transformed by unconscious compositional inputs. Usually these drawings are made late in the evening when my mind is relaxed. I find the A5 format more handy than A3 or 4, which I use for more formal, finished drawings. I also use the graphic tools in Apple Notes to sketch in my iPad.Both formats have an immediacy that I like.


The trees were drawn with a felt pen and and the sky was set up with a grey broad tip marker, both standard tools of an architect, which I then was. The browny yellow tint was from the coffee in my mug, into which I dipped a soft watercolour brush, something I have been using since my university days.


I then set aside this drawing for about three years until we were driving on another narrow litttle lane and we had to drive round a dead badger. We came back down that route about an hour and a half later and he was still there. I did not want his body to be run over and defaced so i stopped th car, got out and heaved him into the bushes by the side of the road where other animals would deal with the remains. I happened to look up and noticed how similar this bit of vegetation was to where we had seen the badger on the A285, so I decided to make a apinting from this sketch.


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