I had marvelous day yesterday. I woke up quite early and decided to go out to paint before breakfast. There was a bit of a wheatfield not far from the B&b I'd had my eye on. It's nice to have a few nearby spots scoped out to paint easily without a long hike.
Then I went to Rievaulx Abbey. It's my favorite ruined abbey, as well as a special place. I was there for the first time with my grandmother at age 17 on the trip the two If us took around Britain, and I really felt her presence there again. I am so grateful to her for that early adventure and the confidence to strike out alone on a train with no reservations and just see what happens.
I painted at Rievaulx Terrace, a site up the hill from the abbey itself with views down into the valley. I feel like my work regressed a bit, though, with the focus on the architecture. Or maybe I just had an off morning. But a couple of people have kindly pointed out latelythat my landscapes on this trip are a departure from the work I've been doing and that my handling of paint is richer and more layered. I loved being at Rievaulx, but I wasn't happy with the work from there.
I did a quick journal sketch both to loosen up and also just remember this lovely tree. I mostly want to put time and effort into work that at least has the possibility of being exhibited if I like it, but sometimes it is fun to do a little sketch work in my journal just for me.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, and I decided to pack a snack supper and head back out on the moors as soon as I got home. Never waste sunshine in Britain, and I also wanted to get quickly back to the painting that I had been feeling good about.
The sky and clouds were just glorious. I'm still not capturing clouds in watercolor as happily as I can in pastels or oils, but this trip has been good practice, and I do feel like I'm learning a lot. Sometimes getting away from my normal subject matter stretches me and challenges me in ways that remain after the trip itself is over. My summer in Greece eleven years ago forever brightened my palette, and I hope I can carry over the richer paint handling and different compositions to work after I get home.
I've been eyeing this line of trees from every angle and had painted it once already, but I wanted to get it from this vantage point with afternoon light, if possible. It reminds me if a very different line of trees in Bergama, Turkey, that also haunted me and made repeated appearances in my work there.
Walking home was an amazing sunset. I was utterly spent after doing seven watercolors in one day (I think that's a personal record), so I just took a photo to enjoy instead. I couldn't stop smiling all the way home. The beauty out in the moors is incredible, and I feel so lucky to be painting here after ten years of wanting to.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.