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British Weather Epitomised

A rainy day in August painting Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex.

One cannot help but smile when the weather lives up to its infamous best. And that is exactly what I got for this day out painting Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex. From a thick mist to piercing streams of sunlight and eventually the inevitable downpour, it was spot on Britain.

It is the middle of Summer and an early morning alarm has been set in anticipation of an exciting painting outing by the River Arun in West Sussex. Arriving to a heavy mist, the sunrise is just barely showing through the blanket of cloud hanging to the east.

"First Light" Oil on Board 12" x 10"

An open expanse, distant cows grazing and an eerie sense of calm greet me as I set up my easel. The familiar salutes and pleasantries are exchanged with the local walkers exercising their dogs and I outline the scene in front of me with a quick sketch on the 12" x 10" board chosen for the scene. As the sun begins it's swift summer climb over the horizon, the clouds respond with a delightful fiery orange glow that dutifully intensifies as I work to capture the unfolding glory. Whilst my responses to the passing ramblers become ever the more curt in an effort to offer the rapidly changing light my full attention, a beautiful streaming light emerges, bathing the distant fields and grazing cows in an ethereal soft glow.

On to the next stop...

I continue on my journey around the Brooks and chance upon a charming narrow stone bridge with a nook just about able to take me out of any vehicle's path. It seems a pity not to capture the structure within the painting, but it has certainly been earmarked for a future outing here. What strikes me at this moment is the looming sky above, twice seen in the reflection of the gentle river.

It is a quiet scene, one that is at a stark contrast to the drama of the early morning though the sky continues to try its hand at drama in a more formidable way as the dark skies gather. At this point it seems the adage "red sky in morning, shepherd's warning" is holding water, but I suspect there may be just enough time to capture the charm of the river.

Working on a 10" x 12" board I get the key elements of the painting blocked in. Of course, it wouldn't be a plein air painting adventure without the obligatory chats with passersby, and in this particular setting it meant a rather odd yet amusing greeting regime. Cars pull up, wind down the window, ogle, compliment and then drive swiftly off as the next vehicle waits to pass over. Still, the lovely scream of "that's wicked bruv" from a delivery driver is as welcome a compliment as any as the clouds begin to fortify and I scramble to close out the painting in the rain.

"Rains Across the Brooks, West Sussex" Oil on Board 10" x 12"

Whether the timing always seems to be just right or just wrong depending on your side of view, I made it to the car as dry as if I had just jumped in the river but a smile on my face nonetheless as I cast an eye on the painting and the memory just made.


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