Field III

 

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Oil on panel –  25 x 20 cm.

Heat haze shimmers across the wheat fields already by mid morning. Insects buzz in the shade of an ash tree. The burn has slowed to a trickle, exposing rocks and fallen branches. Where have the fish gone ? Easy pickings for the herons that stalk these clefts in the land. Barley nods in the occasional breeze that rises every now and then billowing the shirt from my sticky back.

I chat to Ian while he works with the sheep in the pens. He tells me when a lamb stops being a lamb, when it becomes a hog, and later a gimmer. I hear about cheviots and texels, rearing, lambing, selling, transport, and the challenges involved. He tells me how farming is changing, how once not so long ago farming was a local industry, it is now international. He says wheat prices are speculated on financial markets globally and how technology is making people more and more redundant on large farms. He moves easily and confidently with his sheep. I am left wondering how farming will change for his son’s generation, how much further can we reduce human contact with animals and the land. I walk down the track, a small plane noisily fills the air, flying low over the Law. Cow parsley giddies as the postie’s van drives past stirring up dust in its wake.

Summer

 

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Field, north east – oil on panel – 25 x 20 cm.

 

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Field, looking north – oil on wood  92 x 60 cm.

 

I’m back in the studio after a week away up north in Orkney. I had forgotten how heart stoppingly beautiful midsummer nights are there – ‘simmerdim’, when it never gets fully dark. A gentlest of light dusts the hills and fields, soft breezes sigh, ripple the water on the loch. Time stands still, for the briefest of moments, and memories of this place return.

It is the field boundaries, the edges, that I paint, back home in Fife. The open space is one I am attempting to get to grips with after so long in the complications of a wood. It is a different voice and one that I am starting to articulate. It feels like every painting of a field I make is like a breath.

 

 

 

A field.

 

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Oil on wood – 8 x 10 inch.

 

Dust rises walking along the track. Ragged robin in the ditches, sparrows jostling, clyping in the hedgerows while a thin old black cat slinks in between the barley. The sun is already hot and the the cumulus clouds bounce their way along pushed by the bright gusty winds from the north. A field further along sways a sea of green gold wheat that  folds and bends, rises and falls . With the leaves in the full sailed trees it sounds of waves ssshhhing their way up a shingle beach.

I make a wee film of the field and something in me thinks I am starting to understand a little of this landscape. It is going to take a long time of repetition, of sitting, looking, drawing, painting, filming and writing before I cam claim to know the farm but it is early days and I am on the road. I am going to attempt to write more too, I feel this place requires an extended process of thought, the ways in which people and nature co-exist with the landscape, and my own reflections on walking, seeing and understanding. I will share some of my memories and thoughts.

This small memory of a field is a good place to start.

 

 

Field of barley.

 

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Sun flitting , wind strengthening from the west. Ian tells me about the fields, how many and whats growing at the moment. I walk up the track beside the sheep and young bullocks, who follow me and watch as I make a pencil sketch of the view to the west. A lamb gets its head stuck in the wire fence. I can’t free it so report back with the news. The turbines on the top of the hill are monsters, their short sharp breaths carving the air into ribbons. Swallows whip past my face causing me to start. I spot a black sheep in the field below the farmhouse, walk on. Sitting in a field of barley I paint a line of trees on the skyline with my fingers – I forgot to bring any brushes…

Sea sketch.

 

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A silver rain cloaks the coast as it slips into evening. Fishing boats steam from the harbour mouth to grounds where the shoals dart, flash, switch; weaving their own nets,  to catch the last embers of light from days end.