To the memory of happy days


September in Teesdale


There was a period during early September when I sensed a change in the air. A smell of autumn drifting through the woods, fungi and their pungent aroma helping to digest the last few days of summer. I began to think how short the season had been, how few the days spent walking through the old woods, or over the Teesdale hills and river Tees I so dearly love.

On that same day following a long walk along the river, I stopped by a small enclosure filled with plump lambs from spring. The light was beautiful, evening shadows, stretching like arms below the branches of an old oak tree. Aware that summer was escaping I watched the lambs in the field for an age. Squeezing the last of the day, knowing that soon the light would change.

Today at 6.30pm, I drove home in almost darkness from a meeting in Barnard Castle. By the time I stepped into the house, I knew there would be no natural light to work on my large canvas. Instead I would need the lamp and my watercolours to fix that thing inside me. I searched through my photos finding a picture from that very same day in September and painted this sketch. To the memory of happy days!


10 Replies to “To the memory of happy days”

  1. Beautiful how I can envision the scene by your words as well as by the painting. A sigh for the coming darker days… Your painting of plump lambs during the golden hour of a happy day is exquisite as ever! (btw, I’m rather envious that you have meetings in castles) 😉

    1. Amber, Your comments keep the old lamp burning. Some days stick in your mind and tonight driving home, I thought of that day watching those lambs.
      I found the pictures on my camera and started to paint. September filled my studio /spare room. Although I do confess to holding the occasional meetings in castles, sadly Barnard Castle is a small town who adopted the name of the local castle as the name of the town. Still a beautiful place.

  2. Love that huge tree towering over the spring lambs. It sets the scene so well. I could sit there for hours painting. I, too, noticed the shorter days this week. Soon our time will change and even it out a little. Our summer was so hot that I have just begun to enjoy this cooler air. It will, all too soon, be gone. Very pleasing composition, Keith!

    1. Thank you Leslie, When the colder days set in, it often becomes too difficult to paint outdoors. I now make a habit of taking pictures
      before I start. I seem to have so many from the summer! I really enjoy using the pen at the moment, it dries so quickly-its great fun!
      Thanks for the feedback- always very much appreciated.

  3. I can imagine this (and the previous one) in a book along with your writing. I think the pen & ink is quite useful with watercolour because it allows you to work quickly & the strength of the composition comes through the line. Haven’t used this method for AGES! I like the tree with its verticality & contrasting chaos of squiggly leaves;

    1. Hello Sonya, That was such a nice comment to make, I’m touched by your reply. The pen is great fun to work with, plus it really helps bring out the line. I sometimes lack confidence with colour, trying to us my line work to mask some of my frailties. Nothing comes easy to me. I really appreciate your feedback.

  4. Evocative and subtle drawing. Very calm mood and you describe your reaction so Beautifully. I live in the state of Indiana as does Leslie. Our summer was incredibly hot and humid. Very hard to work outside or to do plein air so I really appreciate your effort.

    1. Hello Linda, Our summer was drier than usual, but the long winter meant spring was very short and the summer less so. I’m going to Google Indiana to find out more! I really appreciate your time spent replying to my post. It makes it all worth while. Thanks again for your kind words.

  5. More sheep! They are so peaceful and I can see why you were so eager to paint them. The setting seems so tranquil and soothing, the tree offering the sheep a little summer shade. What a wonderful way to remember a sparkling day!

    1. That’s a big old oak Barbara, over the centuries shelter to lots of sheep, highwaymen and travellers. I read somewhere, if you wrap your arms around the base of a tree each adult span measures 75 years, so if you need to span a tree three times with your arms until they would meet, that would be 225 years. I think this oak to be much older. Thank you again for your post, it was a sparkling day, made more so by your kind reply!

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