The ‘Climate’ Project #2: In the Studio

posted in: The Climate Project | 0
Screenshots taken from a video recording, you can watch the clip on my instagram: @alysiawebster

This week I started to working on a few canvases I’ve had prepped and ready to go for a while. I thought I’d experiment with priming the canvas using clear gesso instead of standard white. I’ve used it before on a couple of paintings (see ‘Somewhere Along the Way’ and ‘Following Gritstone’ from 2019). There are a few properties of clear gesso that I want to take advantage of for my ‘Climate’ inspired paintings:

  • Through thin layers you can still see the speckled details of the canvas, which I really like
  • It means I can start with a natural mid-tone, instead of stark white, which will compliment the earthy colours I intend to use

I started work on these paintings after spending the weekend hiking and exploring in the area in the Peak District between Edale and Hayfield. On the first hike I got off the train at Edale, and set off on my hike towards Hayfield taking the path onto the moor via, Ringing Roger and the iconic Wool Packs before descending down via the old mule path to Hayfield. This was also the weekend when the heat wave hit! I’m sure the majority of people can recall it being absolutely scorching! As I set off from Edale at 9am, the sun was already beating down. My plan was to race out of the sweltering valley and high up into the Peaks where I hoped there would be a cool breeze. There was! It even rained on the plateau? Along the trail I didn’t notice the heat too much, and I hopped from one rocky outcrop to the next. Every time I walk through the woolpacks I think it would be  interesting and a challenge to draw all of the rocks, simply because some of the shapes are so unique… but then I think about how many there are… hundreds and hundreds! Maybe one day I’ll commit to it… 

The view from Ringing Roger looking over Grindsbrook
Rocks found on Kinder Plateau

A few days later I set off on my return journey from Hayfield to Edale, via South Head and along the ridge to Mam Tor. Hayfield to South Head was my favourite section of the hike! It was very quiet, and it’s such a beautiful area to explore (definitely recommend!). I had the whole day, and plenty of time to get my sketch book out, with plenty of iced tea breaks.

I reached the top of South Head, rounding the corner only to be immediately blasted by the wind. As well as the gorgeous views I found some rocks just out from the edge of the ridge that reminded me of surfboards (pictured to the right). 

Found rocks near South Head, Peak District
Prepared Canvas, ready to go!
First layers in the studio

I have a few colours in mind from spending the weekend in the Peaks that I want to experiment with; taking inspiration from the gritstone, the brooks, heather and ferns. I think the first layers have gone well (see first images, and above to the right), they’ve dried really nicely and I can’t wait to work over them in parts and build on what is already there. 

My aim is to allow each layer to show though, reflecting on the ‘Climate’ and how it changes with time. While these paintings dry, I also want to upgrade my tools in the studio. Focusing on mark making, in addition to translucent layers in the paintings. There are so many textures in the Peak District at the moment, from the rocks to the moss and heather. As it stands I have some well loved paint brushes but nothing large apart from the odd squeegee. So I’m going to make some new tools out of whatever I can find, and see what works and what doesn’t. 

Here’s what I have at the moment: (plus a handful of paint brushes): 

So I think it’s time to get a little more inventive… In the next blogpost I’ll share what I’ve put together and how the paintings are developing. 

I also just wanted to end the post by saying, thank you so much for the wonderful support so far!