Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Salisbury with the Plein Air Society

A couple of weeks ago I went painting in Salisbury with the UK Plein Air Society. It was a chilly bright November morning. We were about 8 meeting there and after a quick walk around town we all agreed that the sunshine on this archway would be a perfect painting subject:

Gateway, Salisbury, November morning   10"x8"  oil on board


I managed to find a little corner against a wall to get protection from the cold wind and still get a good view of the Gateway:

We all set up behind each others trying to still leave some room on the pavement for the pedestrians. I was so glad I had my proper winter coat because it was pretty cold.

That's me with the beret and the french accent - I just needed a baguette under my arm and a moody attitude to give the full stereotype of the french painter ;) (I've stopped explaining that I'm actually from Belgium as people don't seem to find it as glamourous) 

After a warm soup and a good cup of english tea, we headed for our second and last painting of the day. Although the Salisbury Cathedral in the winter sunshine was begging to be painted, I fancied something a bit more simple so the park behind the cathedral turned out to be the perfect subject. Some sheep across the water really caught me eye so I decided to tackle this typical english scenery:

Sheep, late afternoon, Salisbury   7"x10"   oil on board

This was such an inspiring scene. The crisp subtle winter light and the quietness of the place reminded me of the landscapes in Jane Austen's novels. I almost started to believe that Mr Darcy would turn up from the mist but unfortunately I could only count on the sheep to keep me company!


This was a challenge in the way that the sun was right in my eyes. I felt I almost blinded myself looking at the scene so I made myself only look for a few seconds and paint from memory for a few minutes.

A stylish change of hat to cope with the sun - painting can be fashionable afterall:

Not far from where I was, Andrew Taylor painted a beautiful water scene which he managed to create only in a few minutes...

I'm loving the quality of light in Winter so despite of the cold, I'm very excited about this new painting season. Now, bring on the snow I say...


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  2. Nice works Valerie. You look cold in the picture on the street. It is -18C at my house so I'm opting to paint indoors.

  3. Nice narration of the day. It was a really lovely day with that very clear sunlight. Lovely sheep painting you did, one of my favorites! I'll post my little 'water study', but my town one is very unfinished so probably won't post that. Oh yes! How about the string of onions to complete the Franco/Belgium kit(and an old bike)?

  4. Very beautiful plen air painting!

  5. Very nice work Valerie and well done for taking on the elements! Looks like you had some decent warm sunshine (and sheep) to work with and I know exactly what you mean about the blinding light. I tend to avoid looking into a low sun over water as I find that with the reflection it's too bright to look at. Happy to suffer for my art but there's a limit :o) Hope all is well and you get out some more in the clear winter light....can't beat it!

  6. Thanks you all for the comments! It was cold indeed but I was well prepared;) People make fun of me because I always have tons of food supplies, extra layers and a choice of hats and gloves but really I'm the one having the last laugh;)
    David have fun in Venice - I'm so jealous and wish I could come but it will be for the next time.

  7. Beautiful paintings. The sheep look so peaceful and British and not at all like they have to worry about coyotes like the sheep and other small livestock do in Texas. The highlights on them as well as on the water really give a great feel to the atmosphere in this one. There is something so beautiful about winter light, or is it still autumn? Anyway I love how you portray it in both of these. Of coure you know how much I appreciate your skill with architecture.
    Hope you are starting to enjoy the holiday season. Doug

  8. Both lovely paintings Valerie. The photos are always a treat also. Along with the baguette, a string of onions would complete the picture I think. All the best Valerie.

  9. Thanks Douglas for the lovely comment. Coyotes, that sounds so wild! I bet they could do a good painting though;)
    Thanks Vic, I'll try to remember by string of onion next time to make sure I'm fully entertaining!