There is no substitute for working outdoors: the sounds, smells, light and colour all help to create that feeling of being one with nature. The opportunity to represent a particular landscape at a moment in time never fails to stir my emotions. Listening to the sounds of birds singing, perhaps being accompanied by the local heron, duck or swan adds to the pleasure of the moment. The sound of running water splashing against or tumbling over rocks is pleasing to the ear, providing a sense of peace and tranquillity. The photograph shown directly below shows me sitting in a mountain beck being filmed for a TV programme.
The equipment I carry when working outdoors will depend on the distance the composition is away from my car. If I can park my vehicle and jump over a wall to reach my chosen composition then I can carry what I wish. If I have to walk a greater distance then I will need to travel light. If there is considerable walking involved I may carry a small haversack filled with my paints, palette, brushes, watercolour block and water pot and find a rock to sit on and then balance the watercolour block across my knees.
The completed watercolour, plus notes and photographs will be used to transfer the scene on to canvas in my studio.
I think of composition as a means of arranging all the elements in the painting to the best effect so that unity is achieved. When visiting an area looking for that special composition I follow a logicalprocedure. For example, I may walk up and down a river bank looking for exciting possibilities such as a bend in the river, a fall in the water, interesting tree structures, the shape of the river bank or a pleasing rock formation.
If nature is perfect attempt to represent it - if it isn't improve on it. Throughout the day the light will inevitably change. It is not a good idea to continually alter your painting to represent this changing light -much better to visualise the light effect in the composition that inspired you to paint it in the first place and use this visualisation to complete the painting.
In the painting shown below I can be seen painting a farmstead for a TV programme.