Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Gloaming A painting of Edgeworth Woods in Lancashire

This is another painterly meander, thank god not many people read this blog...The subject in my head was   "The Gloaming a Northern mood" , when I sat down and started blogging this entry yesterday on my ipad.  I've just walked around Entwistle reservoir ia regular walk of mine in the West Pennines or Lancashires Hill Country, Whilst I walked I pondered as one does on how the act of painting the Gloaming for me, relates to other expressive art forms namely poetry, prose and music? I am writing this in the gloaming, whilst I look out on a quintet of music makers, the wind, the misted trees, the tall wet grasses, the sound of distant seabirds  and huddled birdlife which chatters around me. I 

The Gloamin is a very Northern, mid winter, January affair. It's a melancholic, seasonal trip that we, Northerners have got to submit to almost daily without choice and that others in particular the English southrons have not got. For the Southrons have little choice of loving or joining in. The January Gloaming gradually  strips away any feelings of Christmas euphoria and no-hell and dumps us back into its place which is  a very real enclave, a dungeon of damp cold earth, cold snow, freezing wind or just a monotonous grey,warmish dark, that endures day after day, after day and radiates no change noon or dusk......

So .here we are then I'm painting a picture in my head and on paper from a memory of a moment in the landscape that informs me..

The Gloamin MIxed media on Paper by Rob Miller RSA

All the while since starting the writing of this blog, I've also been listening in my kitchen at home to an amazing Irish-American  Band The Gloaming whilst I make the tea, and whilst listening I do admit that I became unsure what the word gloamin actually means. I did some reading and and came across  Merriam Webster  who writes that If "gloaming" makes you think of tartans and bagpipes, well lads and lasses, you've got a good ear and a good eye; apparently we picked up "gloaming" from the Scottish dialects of English back in the Middle Ages. The roots of the word trace to the Old English word for twilight, "glōm," which is akin to "glōwan," an Old English verb meaning "to glow." In the early 1800s, English speakers looked to Scotland again and borrowed the now-archaic verb gloam, meaning "to become twilight" or "to grow dark." I don't think the northern English looked to Scotland for anything that description is just to separatist. Moreso the interchange of trade, seasonal work and shared experiences make gloamin a Northern expression which is borderless as are the cold and the misted evenings....

I then looked back at my attempt at 'Edgeworth Woods The gloaming' and here is a potted description of our roamin in the gloamin event as it happened.  

"We, my partner and I, walked together. It was on a late January evening or still teatime in Lancashire if you would. We needed to get away from the small damp flat that we lived in above the shop. After a hasty Mediterranean tea of  pan fried Salmon, Garlic and Asparagus purchased from Bromley Cross Coop we donned our boots and winter gear and set forth in the car like arctic explorers.  A few minutes later we were parked and disembarked high above the Lancashire village of Edgerton.  Walking through crisp fields floundering across damp ditches and loving it  when our feet hit the solid paths. It was still last light, sheep baar'd and birds chattered as they found their sleeping and roosting spots. On coming over the rise we saw  three deer down by the waters edge, just their white behinds. We both stood looking at them grazing and them up at us staring for too long. Lights going. We all moved on made aware of how quickly day fades and ebbs to a blue grey dark night. This is especially so in the conifer woods that make up Edgeworth Plantation, lying in a deep valley, long since damned and  flooded. Around the trees edge of dark black, a break of complex branches twinned paler colours within the foliage. Lower still from the water a silver moon shone dimly, shone gleaming, shone yellow shone bright from a last light of a  winter's sun broken back. A pale yellow through a stand of black grey trees

In the Gloaming — a Tuesday poem

Today's poem was written by Meta Orred, active as a poet in England in the 1870s and 1880s. Entitled "In the Gloaming," it comes from Orred's book, entitled simply Poems. The words were set to a tune "in the Irish style" by Annie Fortescue Harrison, later Lady Hill. The words were first published in 1874, and the song was tremendously popular in the United States in 1877. The poem is cross-rhymed (ABAB CBCB) and in a hymn metre (8-7-8-7). I think the words themselves are lovely, particularly if read aloud (and somewhat slowly). But they are lovelier still when sung to the tune Harrison wrote.

Whether Miss Orred knew the story of the composer's life or not, the facts are (purportedly), that Annie Fortescue Harrison, daughter of a Scottish MP, had been in love with Lord Arthur Hill (County Down, Ireland), but the marriage was frowned upon by his family. Miss Harrison went to England and became a composer, writing the music to this song (as well as instrumentals and musicals). Lord Hill married another woman named Anne, who died the following year. A few years later, at a concert in England, he heard this song performed and the lyrics and tune strongly reminded him of his lost love, so he tracked her down and reader, he married her.

In the Gloaming
by Meta Orred

In the gloaming*, oh, my darling!
When the lights are dim and low,
And the quiet shadows falling,
Softly come and softly go;

When the winds are sobbing faintly
With a gentle unknown woe,
Will you think of me, and love me,
As you did once long ago?

In the gloaming, oh, my darling!
Think not bitterly of me!
Tho' I passed away in silence
Left you lonely, set you free;

For my heart was crush'd with longing,
What had been could never be;
It was best to leave you thus, dear,
Best for you, and best for me.

*gloaming is the twilight that occurs at dusk and dawn; I'm reminded of Yeats's line about "The blue and the dim and the dark cloths/Of night and light and the half-light"

Heres a great Irish band  performing a sound that locates us in the now of 2017 and the the then of the middle ages.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Paintings and Drawings of Whalley Abbey by William Turner RA and Rob Miller RSA

Whalley Abbey Cloister Arch Calder River  Path
oil on board 24x30cm

More mental meanderings of a plein air artist:- It had escaped my memory whilst I was painting at Whalley Abbey last year that William Mallard Turner had been there drawing and painting about 226 years before me. I had turned up at Whalley 2016 in the rain clutching my pochade box and bag of tricks in search of a coffee in the Abbey coffee shop. After refreshments the rain had gone its way and I decided to explore the grounds and found myself a dry spot by the river. Turner 1799 on the other hand had been commissioned by the Abbot to make sketches for a book on the Abbey. I don't really want to go into the history of Whalley because this blog is concerned with the visual and the act of someone looking at the landscape and recording what they are seeing. But I thought that this time lapse was worth mention as a personal question. Does Turners visit to the Abbey make the place a better place for me to paint? If I follow Cezannes advise then visually no it shouldn't I should paint what I see and not what I think I see. Okay, but there's still something in my mind which fascinates me about mine and Turners joint visit across the centuries.  If you take a look at Turners second drawing below you can make out the shattered wall of the cloisters on the far left. Meaning that if we were both drawing there today we would be looking at each other across the river. Ha ha, how brilliant an event that would have made  for me and what a finer story I could have told you. Or maybe I watched to many late night episodes of Jamie and Claire in outlander on netflix.

Whalley Abbey and Whalley Bridge
William Mallard Turner Graphite on paper

Whalley Abbey William mallard Turner
Graphit on paper

Turner went to Whalley, near Blackburn in Lancashire, in the autumn of 1799. He had been commissioned to design illustrations for the Rev TD Whittaker's History of the Parish of Whalley published in 1800–01. This sketch shows him exploring the picturesque potential of the medieval abbey at Whalley. By the time Turner visited it, the building had fallen into disrepair.
Gallery label, August 2004
Drawn with the page turned horizontally, this was used as the basis for the finished watercolour (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),1 engraved in 1800 for Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s History of Whalley (Tate impression: T05929). The Abbey was a Cistercian house, first consecrated in 1306, with construction continuing throughout the fourteenth century. The view is taken from the Long Walk on the left or town bank of the river. The inner, or north-east, gatehouse, of 1480, is visible at the right, beyond the mill. The house to its left is known as the Abbot’s Lodging. Further drawings of Whalley Abbey in this book are on folios 31 verso and 35 verso (D01961D01969), and folios 44 recto and 45 recto (D01983D01984; Turner Bequest XLV 43, 44).
Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.332 no.289, reproduced.

Andrew Wilton, ‘Whalley Abbey: Arches of the Dormitory 1799 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2016,, accessed 11 January 2017.

Artists network

Artists Network

Birks Farm Longridge Acrilic on Board
24x30 cm  Rob Miller RSA


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See and buy the Birks farm by Rob Miller RSA from Alisdair at The Longridge Gallery    

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A painting of Sunrise at Black Knowl New Forest UK 61x122cm by Rob Miller RSA

A painting of Sunrise at Black Knowl Brokenhurst New Forest UK
61x122cm by Rob Miller RSA

Black Knowl heath land lies on the outskirts of Brokenhurst it is a fine place to be painting early in the morning when the suns first shaft of light glitters through the ancient  trees.  I imagine this to be true whatever the time of year.  As with all forests the New Forest  morning nothing stirs except a sigh as a breeze caused by the release of  oxygen from the the trees stirs the leafs  awakening birdlife and deer who graze peacefully.   All this quiet despite the hoards of Londoners fresh from the city still sleeping by the hot  embers of their barbeques in the caravan site. This amazing wild place of  beauty shows the importance of our national parks in conserving our national treasure, especially so in the current climate of fracking and land exploitation. More details on the New Forest can be found  in an article by the Independent Newspaper