When I was fifteen I painted the view from my bedroom window across a patchwork of neighbouring gardens. In the years since, I have made paintings, more or less topographical, of many of the places I have lived: Holderness, Suffolk, the Lune estuary, Lincolnshire, the Vale of York, the Lancashire Fells, the Yorkshire Dales, and latterly, Mani in Greece.
These have been fairly straightforward responses to the landscape, but often tinted, I suppose, by a certain native melancholy.
Landscape painting is a more forgiving business, than, say, painting portraits. The difference between right and wrong is seldom clear. It offers the chance to push paint about more freely. I painted these trees on a number of occasions in my mid twenties. At this time I was in the habit of painting over most of the pictures I did, so not much survives from this period. Such an intense, uncompromising creature I must have been.
Rathmell Bottoms, a group of marshy meadows not far from Settle in North Yorkshire, is inundated each time the Ribble river rises above its banks. The flood water can stand for weeks together. A fine atmospheric place to paint.
We lived in this old farmhouse when the kids were small. A remote spot, it stood on the dead level miles of the plain of Holderness on the north shore of the Humber estuary. It was demolished years ago. I painted the picture outside in the snow. Oil paint doesn’t stick very well to wet canvas, I recall.