Essex Field: September in stages

By Sally Pudney on 23rd September 2020

While I was painting my September picture of the field I took some photos of various stages as it developed. I haven’t done this for ages, but I thought it might be of interest to see how the painting builds up!

I started with a board 45cm square, primed with three coats of Daler Rowney Acrylic Gesso Primer. When this was dry the first thing I did was draw a few key elements on – the horizon, the position of the big tree – with a hard 5H pencil. A softer pencil will smudge off into the paint.

The first paint to be applied is always the sky. A mix of Cerulean Blue Chromium and Cobalt Blue with Titanium White – I use Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic, and Golden Acrylic. Much of the sky will be covered by leaves, but tiny bits will show through and it is important that they are all an appropriate colour for their position and that they don’t look as though they’ve been added later!

Next I painted in the distant hedge between Martins field and How Hill, and the woods in the far distance. This was varied mixtures of Payne’s Grey, Permanent Sap Green, Jackson’s Primrose Yellow and Titanium White. I also added some background colour for the field – Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna with lots of Titanium White – and the grassy field margin – Permanent Sap Green and Jackson’s Primrose Yellow. At this stage I also adjusted the shape of the tree trunk and the position of the foreground post.

Next came some background colour for the tree trunk – a mix of Burnt Sienna and Indanthrene Blue. I wanted to make it too dark at this stage so that I could add lighted coloured layers over the top and scratch through, to get the effect of the deeply fissured bark. I also put some background colour on the foliage to the left of the tree with varying mixes of Indanthrene Blue, Permanent Sap Green, Lemon Yellow and Jackson’s Primrose Yellow. This was all applied with a piece of sponge. Again, it was deliberately too dark at this stage.

I continued to add the foliage on and around the tree, introducing more Lemon Yellow, and Yellow Ochre into the mixes, and using both sponge and small, fairly ruined brushes which I keep for this purpose! They give a nice random mark which can imitate the random look of leaves.

In the foreground I used a dark mix of Indanthrene Blue and Burnt Sienna to put in the darker shadows in the foliage, and scratched through it while still wet to indicate thin stems catching the light. Once this was dry I added various mixes of Yellow Ochre, Titanium White, Olive Green and Nickel Azo Yellow for the rest of the jumble of foreground foliage, scratching and adding little touches of oil pastel over the top once the paint was dry. I also adjusted the tree trunk colour, with lighter mixes which included some Olive Green, and when this was dry lightly touched in some highlights with a pale green oil pastel. I lightened the foliage on the far left and also on the branches at the top of the picture.

Using a ‘sword’ brush and a dark mix of Indanthrene Blue and Burnt Sienna I painted in the thin saplings on the right, and then sponged in some sparse dark leaves on these.

At this stage I took the painting inside the house and had a good long look at it. I came up with a few things I wanted to alter: get rid of the post in the field – it draws the eye in a distracting way; add some lighter foliage to the saplings to indicate the afternoon sun catching them; lighten the foliage on the left of the tree trunk – again!; reduce the light area on the immediate left of the tree trunk and get rid of that odd dark spot on the very edge of the picture; emphasise the shadow cast on the main trunk by the small branches; clarify the post in the bottom left corner; and emphasis the branch coming out of the main trunk high on the left.

So I worked my way through these alterations, and the painting was finished. The photo of the painting below was taken in very good light, whereas the ones above were taken on the easel in my studio, usually at the end of the afternoon when I finished working, so that accounts for some of the changes!

I hope that was interesting!

And finally, the good news is that my builders are back today and are fitting the door as I write this! Things are looking up!

Hope you’re all OK and having a good week. 🙂


Essex Field: September and Snippings

By Sally Pudney on 22nd September 2020

Just finished this morning – here’s the ninth painting in my Twelve Months in an Essex Field series.

Essex Field: September

I went through the metal kissing gate in the corner of the field by the railway bridge, and walked down the edge of the neighbouring field for a few yards. I really liked the view looking through the field boundary towards my field, with this wonderful old oak tree marking the boundary.

I actually took a series of photos of this painting while I was painting it, showing the different stages as it developed. I haven’t done that for a while! I’ll post them soon in my next post when I’ve got them off my camera . . . in case you are interested.

The snippings this month were all rosehips from dog roses and field roses growing in the hedge alongside the railway cutting. This was a really nice one to do with all the shiny clusters of hips.

They are in a jam-jar from Wilkins & Sons at Tiptree – as all the snippings drawings are.  Little Scarlet this time, which seemed particularly appropriate . . . .

Someone asked the other day whether these drawings are charcoal – no, I actually do them with a propelling (mechanical) pencil with 2B leads in it, onto Bockingford watercolour paper, and they are all 18cm (7 inches) square. When I’ve finished them all in December I shall re-photograph them all in the same light, and have a set of cards printed. The images will also probably be used for a set of coasters. The original drawings – or some of them, anyway! – will be mounted and framed.

It has been a beautiful sunny day here for the Autumn Equinox. I went down to the Sentinel Gallery this afternoon to a show of wildlife art. Richard Allen, whom some of you will remember from the Lexden Arts Festival days, was exhibiting his work, and I was delighted to have the chance of buying the first in the edition of his new badger print. It will hang in my new extension – if it is ever finished . . .

Also exhibiting was Brin Edwards, who I was so pleased to meet! Brin is showing with us at our (postponed) Anglian Arts Project exhibition at the Naze centre, and although we have exchanged emails I had never actually met him. The show is on until Thursday, open 11-5, and is well worth seeing if you are in the area.

And on the subject of AAP –

Anglian Arts Project news: I have been liaising with the Naze Centre and they have agreed for us to hire their education room in September 2021, for the corresponding week to that which we would have had this year. So Saturday, 4th September to Saturday, 11th September. In the next few days I will be contacting all the artists that we had booked, and hoping they will all be able and willing to show their work with us next year.

Happy Autumn Equinoctial Wishes to you all! 🙂


The Field in September

By Sally Pudney on 17th September 2020

Today it was a really lovely September day – sunny, warm, but not too hot. The roofers had finished work on the extension by lunch time, so I took the opportunity to spend the afternoon at The Field.

As I walked along the edge of the maize field – or what was the maize field before it was harvested, I could hear a sort of roaring rattle! I stopped to watch the buzzard circling slowly over the stubble, but then, as I came over the railway bridge I saw that a tractor was circling The Field. I’m not certain what was happening, but I think possibly sowing. Adam told me that the field is to have rye in it next, so they may have been planting the rye seeds. It definitely looks like a hopper of some kind, don’t you think?

I had already thought that I might paint one of the big mature oaks in the field boundaries this month. I walked through the metal kissing gate into the adjoining field, and did some drawings looking though the boundary line of trees and scrubby hedge back into my field. The lower afternoon sun was lighting up the bark and the undergrowth beautifully!

The noisy tractor had certainly scared all the birds, as I saw none at all in my field, although the jackdaws were ‘chacking’ away in the horse chestnut trees by the barn owl’s nest box, and partridges were pecking their way through the wheat stubble fields, accompanied by wood pigeons.

The birds may have been scarce but the insects were out in force. Grasshoppers, crane flies, butterflies and lots of dragon and damsel flies including this beauty posing on the blackthorn in the sun.

The hedges are simply laden with haws, hips, sloes and blackberries still.

The hips from dog roses and field roses were so plentiful, and such a stunning colour that I decided to make them the subject of my ‘snippings’ drawing this month. I am also planning on doing a small painting of a jam-jar full of them – the colour is just asking to be painted! – and I also brought back a twig of oak with some acorns which may turn into another small painting.

Extension news: The roof is finished and looks really good! The bad news is that nothing else can happen now until probably next Wednesday, due to a delay in the delivery of the glazed doors. Apparently the manufacturers are waiting for ‘a part’ . . . . Until the door is in the plaster board which butts up to the door frame cannot be finished, and the building is not water tight, so the plastering cannot be done, and neither can anything else, as the next stage – skirting boards, floor, fitting the loo and wash basin, fitting the toilet door, final fix electrics – all need to be done after the plastering. I am treating it as a little holiday from having the builders here all the time! I suppose the day will come when everything is finished . . .

Hope you are able to enjoy this wonderful September weather. 🙂

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive my monthly email newsletter but adding your email address to the box at the bottom of the home page (you may need to scroll down a bit to see it). I shall be sharing two bits of exciting news in my September email which will go out on the last day of the month! You can unsubscribe at any time if you get fed up with hearing from me!


Viaduct – and cards for Autumn

By Sally Pudney on 15th September 2020

At the weekend, while the builders were absent, I finished off a painting of the railway viaduct at Chappel.

Landlines 11: Viaduct

The viaduct crosses the valley of the River Colne, North West of Colchester. I had a recommendation from one of you lovely blog readers that if I turned up this particular lane, and walked across the footpath over the field I would get a good view of the viaduct – and you were right! – thank you!

The viaduct carries the branch line from Marks Tey, where it leaves the main London Liverpool Street to Norwich line, and goes to Sudbury. You may remember that in the early spring my last Landlines painting was of the actual track, as it runs along the cutting at the top of My Field!

Greetings Cards for the new season: I was struck by how some of the trees were already looking autumnal as I painted this picture. It reminded me to remind you of my Essex Wood Autumn and Winter Greetings Card pack. This contains cards showing my September, October, November and December paintings from my Twelve Months in an Essex Wood series.

There are two cards of each design, with envelopes, and the pack is available to order if you hop over to my SHOP page.

Extension news: A lot has happened over the last week! The plaster board, floor, Velux windows in the vaulted ceiling, first fix electrics and plumbing have all been done now, and this morning the roofers are here and the tiles are going on! There seems to be an awful lot of noisy tile cutting taking place! My builder has gone to pick up the glazed doors and window, and the guttering. Progress is being made. Photos soon.

A beautiful September morning here – just about my favourite month! Hope you are able to enjoy some sunshine! 🙂


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All images © Sally Pudney 2020