stories and illustration


wheatfieldThe wheat is greener than the already ripening barley at this time of year, and the ears are without those long awns, and the grains of wheat are rougher and heavier, less silky, so the fields don’t move in the same way – “The Wind That Shakes The Barley” is a good description within a title. It was a windy day when I went out walking, but the wheatfields scarcely stirred.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harvesting 2013 Harvesting 1940 (Artist’s Impression)


Great machines are shouldering their way down the narrow border roads at this time of year, their sound heralded by what seems a shaking of the earth. I am walking through the little wood above the barley field next to the Tweed, and I think I see rain on the horizon, which is strange because it is a fine day, if cloudy.  Then I think it is smoke, like when that ambulance caught fire last year due to an electrical fault, the heavy dark smoke of which I could see over the horizon.  But this smoke is a fawn colour, and as I continue down the path I hear a thunder of machinery, which make me feel insecure, as this is a tiny path. Though reason tells me, yes, it is a tiny path.  You won’t get machines down here.  Then as I come past the copse where the rabbits run, and the long tailed tits hang out, chittering like truants, a large machine comes cruising noisily down on the other side of the hedge, and I cotton on that the harvesting of these fields has begin:


There are different machines in the field. The crop is cut in wide swathes. The source of the smoke (or dust clouds) is the big machine on the other side of the field. The Main Machine:


As I walk down the path I look down at the still unharvested barley field below, where the heads of the barley, when I walked there yesterday, were heavy and hanging, no longer swaying in the wind:


August is turning towards September, and scarcely any flowers remain, only the husks and seeds of flowers:


The big machine is turning back towards where I am, having cut the top line of the field. I decide to try and take a picture of it as it approaches. As I hear its rumble coming towards me, a black dog runs up behind me, and a small rabbit runs across the path, scared of the dog (which doesn’t notice it) and me. Hopefully the very small rabbit will scuttle way from the approaching machine as well, or turn down the small patch of undergrowth between the field and the path. The machine approaches, and I lean out and watch it:







Walking on down through the high path I come out on the lane which leads back up to the road.  I see tracks on this lane that stretch from one side to the other, and So I listen hard, because I do not want to meet one of these giant machines coming towards or behind me, as there would be nowhere to escape. Back out on the road, I look back at the half-reaped field:harvest19


It really does feel like the turning of the year.  Quite by chance I see in a Postcript catalogue a lithograph by John Nash called Harvesting:


Lithograph by John Nash.

What a different scene.  The bicycles against the hedge (alack for the rabbits, or maybe the hares), the boys idling, the strange shape of the cut crop, the dogs, the lovers leaning against the rick, the energy and human involvement in the scene,  let alone the difference in the way of cutting the field. This lithograph  was made in 1940 as part of the Pictures for Schools project, and even taking into account artistic license, this is a very different, so much more communal a scene than is the case nowadays with these big machines, which just deal with the fields, and then go on their way, so that strangely, for all their bulk, they are hardly noticed.

The next day the heavy clouds are low on the horizon, the fields are cut, crows and pigeons are in the stubble. Next it will be the ploughing, and the new crops put into the earth. The year is on the turn towards autumn.

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Field in the Wind


Along a field beside River Tweed the wind was ruffling the young wheat, blowing it across as if it was an acre of silk.  I took some close-up pictures of the wheat, they were very green, the greenest pictures I have ever taken, dark green between the stalks, then pale ears and the green sprays, and the surface of the field very pale. Green is a colour I have difficulty with in painting, I hardly use it except that deep fir green, or a very dark viridian with blue and maybe sienna added to it, to muddy it up. There was something about the wind moving across the wheatfield that harked back to an earlier time.  Maybe it was the memory of the field of corn that we had opposite the house where we lived near Ardingly in Sussex, when I was a child.  I must be haunted by this field, as I sometimes find I have put it in paintings (and then gold-brown, not green); though it has now become intertwined with images of the fields above Oxenrig, those places of hawk and hare, where I like best to walk.  In that field of long ago, I remember harvesters putting the crop into stooks, in the late summer evening. The field is still there, I Google-earthed it, and the lane beside it, and the farm in the dip at the end of the lane, with its pond – though if I went back, perhaps it would be completely changed, even if from far up it looks the same.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wind Blowing Through Green Wheat 3


July 6, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wind Blowing Through Green Wheat 2


July 6, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wind Blowing Through Green Wheat I


July 6, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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