Against The Sky

A kestrel circles above the trees, gliding and fluttering. It soars higher, twining around the smooth column of the rising air. Above the dark crescents of the swifts it dwindles, feeding upon insects, swerving and half-hovering to catch them in its talons. Swallows rise to mob it; gently it rocks itself up beyond their reach. It floats up till the sky heals over it. It descends, and is visible for a moment, but it rises again to blue. Under and over the blue dust of the air it gleams and vanishes. Then suddenly it turns entirely into light, and is seen no more. I stay in the larch wood, drowsy  and at peace, while the quiet afternoon subsides into song-lit April evening.
J.A. Baker, The Hill Of Summer

A new painting. The first one I’ve started and finished in 2018. Significantly, the canvas I used is the one where I made my disastrous attempt at a painting of Knaresborough Bridge when I appeared as a competitor in the 2017 Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. It had been sat in the loft for months, like an inversion of Dorian Gray’s portrait, and I always intended to one day make good use of it. Appropriately, the painting was inspired by something I saw the weekend before the competition. It had been an unexpected heatwave that gifted Yorkshire with cloudless blue skies and temperatures in the low 30’s. I was sat in the fields close to my childhood home, making the most of the faint breeze that blew in from the hills to the west, and noticed a kestrel air-dancing in the wild meadow that lay between me and the M621 motorway roaring away in the distance. It hovered there for a long time, making subtle adjustments with its wings and tail feathers to maintain its position over whatever it is it was hunting. It was a real Kes moment, and I knew that one day I’d have to make an artistic response to it. I’ve already done my definitive Kes painting – or so I thought – but it’s been a constant presence in my imagination since childhood so why not make another? I’m pleased with the results and it now hangs in my ‘studio’.

A big inspiration in the making of this painting, was listening to this:

Brian Eno, Harold Budd & Daniel Lanois – The Pearl

The 4th track is where I got the painting’s title from.

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